When hiring labour, no one should assume that someone else is taking care of health and safety. Everyone in the chain is required to know who is doing what and work together so risks are eliminated or minimised.
With major construction and infrastructure projects all over the country requiring large workforces, industry is increasingly turning to labour hire to fill the gaps in the workforce.
So what are your WHS obligations to labour hire workers?
Safe Work Australia has published a guide titled ‘Labour hire: duties of persons conducting a business or undertaking’ which provides information for all parties on complying with their health and safety duties for labour hire under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws. This is for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), and those involved in the supply of workers (labour hire PCBUs) to work for another business or undertaking (host PCBUs).
Essentially, when hiring labour, no one should assume that someone else is taking care of health and safety. Everyone in the chain is required to know who is doing what and work together with other duty holders so risks are eliminated or minimised as far as is reasonably practicable. What is reasonably practicable will depend on the circumstances.
According to Safe Work Australia, before you engage labour hire workers to carry out work, PCBU’s should consider:
- Providing the labour hire PCBU/s with detailed information about the nature of work to be carried out, including details of, and where possible supporting material, relating to:
- The work environment/s
- Tasks to be performed
- Accommodation arrangements
- Any known hazards or risks
- Any plant or equipment to be used
- Organisational and WHS arrangements, including supervision arrangements and any other organisations responsible for the worker during the arrangement
- Health and safety risks associated with the work, and
- Any skills, knowledge, licenses and qualifications required to safely undertake the work.
- Verifying, in consultation with the labour hire PCBU, that the selected worker/s have any necessary qualifications, licences, skills and training to carry out the work safely. In limited circumstances, you may be required to verify the worker/s are medically fit to carry out the work (see regulations 168 and 417(3)(b) of the model WHS Regulations)
- Discussing with the labour hire PCBU, arrangements for health monitoring and vaccinations
- Consulting with the labour hire PCBU/s on WHS matters including information in relation to who will provide any necessary equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and relevant points of contact for health and safety between the organisations
- Ensuring that general health and safety information about the work, workplace and work environment has been provided to the worker/s. Check that you have provided this information in a way that is suitable, adequate and readily understandable for the worker/s
- Eliminating or, if that is not reasonably practicable, minimising risks in the workplace
- Establishing, in consultation with the labour hire PCBU/s, a review process for ensuring the ongoing WHS of workers, and
- Any more you can do to ensure the health and safety of all your workers.
The guide also covers what PCBUs need to do while labour hire is engaged in the project, as well as the obligations of those of the PCBUs involved in the supply of workers.