Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety
Workplace safety is governed by the Health & Safety Employment Act 1992. This Act entitles employees to work in a safe environment and requires you, as an employer, to provide a safe workplace. It was amended by the Health & Safety Employment Amendment Act 2002, which came into effect on 5 May 2003.

Briefly, the Health & Safety Employment Act 1992 requires you, as an employer, to:

  • Identify and control hazards in the workplace.
  • Train and supervise all your staff.
  • Provide all staff with a safe environment.
  • Keep all staff informed and involved in the health and safety issues and processes.
  • Record all accidents and report any serious injuries to OSH (Occupational Safety and Health Service).

Everyone in the workplace needs to know their rights and obligations if they are to be adequately protected and kept safe and healthy. The need to know what to do if an accident or a “near miss” incident occurs.

Establish Rules for the Workplace
One of the great things about running your own business is that you get to set your own rules. This may sound attractive, but with the freedom to be your own boss, comes responsibilities. If you set up bad rules they can be oppressive and cause inefficiencies, whereas good rules will help your employees be more productive, as well as avoid conflicts and problems in the workplace. The correct rules for your business will depend on the type of business you have and the type of work you do.

Some general guidelines applying to every business include:

  • Workweek: Your business workweek should be fully defined, including the hours the employee is required to work.

  • Salaries: Full details of salary guidelines should be made available, including when employees can expect reviews.

  • Vacation: Time off for vacations, or illness, or funerals etc, should be firmly established.

  • Drugs, alcohol, etc: Rules regarding consumption of alcohol and smoking should be clearly set out so employees know where they stand.

  • Sexual harassment: Employees need to be aware of what constitutes harassment, because many people do not consider sexist jokes or unwanted physical contact to be sexual harassment.

  • Use of Internet and email: Put in policies that will administer and control the use of email and the Internet, because these areas can result in lost production and increased costs.

  • Reviews: Your employees should be very clear on the period when their job, as well as their remuneration, is reviewed.

Substance Abuse in The Workplace
Substance abuse in the workplace is a multimillion-dollar problem for any county’s economy. Many larger companies address this adequately, but most small businesses do not provide a policy for control of and dealing with substance abuse.

Substance abuse includes alcohol abuse as well as illicit drug use. The goal of your anti-drug abuse policy should be to deter drug use as a whole, but certainly make sure it does not occur on your premises. The sad fact is that many small businesses invest a lot of time and money training their staff and if they become involved in drug abuse, production will be affected and other staff members will suffer.

Employment Regulations in the USA

Who is an employee and who is not?
It is important to be clear about whether your employment relationship is an "employment relationship" or some other form of relationship. This is because the law for employer-employee relationships is different from the law for other types of relationships.

Here we cover the main rights and obligations of employers and employees who are in an employment relationship. We do NOT cover rights and obligations relating to other types of relationships, such as those between principal and contractor or contractor and sub-contractor.

An employee is...

  • An employee is anyone who has agreed to be employed, under a contract of service, to work for some form of payment. This can include wages, salary, commission and piece rates.

An employee is not...

  • a volunteer, who does not expect to be rewarded and receives only a reimbursement for their expenses
  • a self-employed or an independent contractor
  • a sharemilker
  • a realtor who has a contract that says they are an independent contractor.