Duties of employers

Employers have a duty to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

An employer's main responsibility is to make sure that the workplace is safe and that anyone working in or visiting the workplace is not exposed to hazards or harmed by the work.

For example, the employer must:

  • make sure that work areas, machinery and equipment are kept in a safe condition
  • organise ways of working safely
  • provide information, instruction, training and supervision of employees so they can work safely
  • make sure that employees are aware of potential hazards
  • provide protective clothing and equipment where hazards can't be avoided
  • consult and co-operate with health and safety representatives and other employees at the workplace
  • inform employees about hazards in the workplace, and improve their understanding of safe work procedures (the information does not always have to be written - it can be spoken, or in the form of videos and tapes)
  • provide new employees with specialised induction training to help them become familiar with their new work environment, procedures, equipment and materials so they can do their job safely. Induction should be much more than having a chat with your supervisor, completing a few forms and being introduced to your workmates.
  • provide information about hazards and the actions taken to control workplace risks (including the use of personal protective equipment where necessary)
  • provide supervision to ensure that employees are not exposed to hazards. Supervision should include regular checks to make sure health and safety instructions are being followed.
  • consult with employees to identify and control hazards in workplaces. Employees who are experienced in a job will usually know what can go wrong, and why.
  • consult with employees and health and safety representatives on health and safety matters
  • make sure equipment and materials are used, stored, transported and disposed of safely.