Your duty of care is your legal duty to take reasonable care so that others aren’t harmed. If you identify a reasonably likely risk of harm, you must take reasonable care in response. It is a concept common to all modern occupational health and safety (OHS) / workplace health and safety (WHS) regimes.
As employers are in control of the workplace and workplaces can have significant risks to health and safety, employers are required to organise their workplace and their work systems to ensure people at work are not put in harm’s way.
Occupational Health and Safety, or OHS/WHS, is an essential component of the management system in any workplace. Not only is it required by law, it is simply the “right” thing to do to protect the health and safety of people working for you. Based originally on common law “duty of care”, and now enshrined in statutory legislation and numerous regulations, it is a legal obligation for employers to provide a healthy and safe work environment.
Australian state and territory OHS/WHS Acts set out the requirements for creating a safe and healthy working environment while OHS/WHS regulations explain the duties of particular groups of people in controlling the risks associated with specific hazards. Both Acts and regulations are legally enforceable. Codes of Practice provide advice on how to meet regulatory requirements and as such, are not legally enforceable, but they can be used in courts as evidence that legal requirements have or have not been met.
State and territory OHS/WHS regulations under the relevant OHS/WHS Acts generally impose duty of care obligations on an employer to:
State and territory OHS/WHS Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice can be accessed through State and Territory Codes of Practice
Diving is universally recognised as a high hazard and high risk activity – inherently dangerous, and with a disproportionate number of fatalities per person employed compared to the general workplace. However, with the implementation of well developed systems of work, procedures and practices, Australian construction diving is one of the safest in the world.
In the occupational diving industry it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the employee (diver or supervisor):
An ADAS certification is an approved diving or supervision qualification in accordance with the competencies contained in Australian Standards 2815, ensuring a diver or supervisor is competent and safe to work at the time the qualification is awarded. The rigorous quality-controlled nature of ADAS certification offers a high degree of certainty as to a diver or supervisor’s competency and helps employers meet their legislated and common law duty-of-care requirements.
Regulatory authorities are given significant powers of inspection and prosecution, and there is a potential financial impact of breaching your duty of care. If you have any queries about your duty of care requirements contact your state or territory OHS inspector.