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Work Health & Safety for Education Support Staff

Non-teaching staff work in many different environments such as: offices, laboratories, libraries, classrooms, maintenance workshops, school grounds and buses.

This exposes them to a wide range of health and safety risks including:

  • extreme weather conditions
  • hazardous chemicals
  • infections
  • lack of resources for the requirements of the job
  • machinery and equipment
  • managing special needs students
  • manual handling
  • poorly designed workstations
  • workload
  • workplace bullying

and the list goes on.

The most important thing to acknowledge is that every worker has the right to a safe and healthy workplace and the primary duty of care rests with the employer, the school.

The Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation spells out the responsibilities of the school, the Principal, managers and supervisors in ensuring the health and safety of workers while they are at work.

This must be done through:

  • having or attaining a good knowledge of the hazards and risks that workers face
  • using appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety
  • providing information, training and supervision necessary to protect workers from risks to health and safety
  • providing safe machinery, equipment and systems
  • providing adequate facilities for the welfare of workers at work (eg suitable dining and toilet facilities)

Workers also must take reasonable care of their own health and safety; make sure that their work doesn’t adversely affect the health and safety of others; and comply with WHS policies and procedures.

So how should the school be meeting its responsibilities to you as a staff member? Some of the more important ways are:

  • training you in your rights under the WHS legislation
  • training you in recognising the potential hazards in your work and the policies and procedures that the school has to control the risks from the hazards
  • informing you how to report hazards and incidents and the importance of this
  • consulting you when proposing changes that may affect your health and safety or making decisions about the adequacy of facilities for your welfare. That is, providing you with information in time for you to express your views and to contribute to the decision making process.
  • informing you of who the Health and Safety Representative and Health and Safety Officer is.

If you need any assistance or have any questions, please contact our office: 8410 0122 or enquiries@ieusa.org.au