What is your role and responsibility?
Duty of care requires everything reasonably practicable to be done to protect the health and safety of others at the workplace. This duty is placed on:
- all employers
- their employees
- any others who have an influence on the hazards in a workplace.
Your key role in OHS as a trainer/assessor is to ensure the health and safety of your learners. This responsibility towards others is referred to as "Duty of Care". A definition of this is:
The key factors relating to duty of care generally are that:
- it applies wherever there is special relationship - this may be employer to employee, RTO to client, facilitator to client etc
- it applies to all circumstances of the relationship
- an individual's duty of care cannot be delegated but roles and functions may be
- it applies personally to individuals
- it applies to all risks that are foreseeable and preventable, and
- it includes the concept of 'reasonably practicable'.
The RTO and individual designers, facilitators, assessors also have a duty to ensure as far as is reasonably practical that the learning or assessment process does not create risks for the learner or others.
Specific rights and duties logically flow from the duty of care. These include:
- provision and maintenance of safe plant and systems of work
- safe systems of work in connection with plant and substances
- a safe working environment and adequate welfare facilities
- information and instruction on workplace hazards and supervision of employees in safe work
- monitoring the health of their employees and related records keeping
- employment of qualified persons to provide health and safety advice
- nomination of a senior employer representative, and
- monitoring conditions at any workplace under their control and management.
These are representative of the employer's specific duties in all Australian States and Territories.
The 'hierarchy of control' refers to the range of feasible options for managing the risk to health and safety. The hierarchy normally ranges over the following controls: elimination of the hazard; its substitution with a less harmful version; its redesign; engineering controls; isolation of the hazard from people at the workplace; safe work practices; redesigning work systems; and the use of personal protective equipment by people at the workplace.
Remember, you won't be the only one responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment. Occupational Health and Safety is a shared responsibility, so depending on your situation, there will be a number of people involved.
These might include:
- your (or the learning environment's) manager, coordinator or supervisor
- the director of the training/assessment organisation
- the employer
- the Health and Safety Advisor in your workplace or training/assessment organisation
- Human Resources personnel.
Don't forget, your learner has a role to play too but only at the level of their control, and thus any responsibility may be minimal. Look at this situation below to see how this translates into an OHS situation.
In this scenario, was the trainer at fault? Did she neglect her duty of care... or was this accident the learner's fault? Select from the answers below.