The basics: your rights at work
If you are a temporary working visa holder, a permanent resident, or an Australian citizen, you are covered by work health and safety laws that apply to everyone in Australia.
As a worker in Australia you have rights.
The right to be shown how to work safely
When you start a job you should be:
- shown how to use any equipment that you will be operating
- trained in how to use equipment safely
- provided with safety equipment, also known as personal protective equipment (PPE) and shown how to use and wear it properly
- shown around the workplace including entry and exit points, amenities and first aid areas
- told about emergency evacuation procedures and shown the emergency evacuation point/s
- introduced to your immediate supervisor, health and safety representative and people you will be working with
- told about the safety policies and procedures in place, including how to report problems or injuries
- clear about everyone’s role and responsibilities for safety in the workplace.
This is called a workplace induction. If you are not sure about something during your induction or while you are working, ask your supervisor for help. If you are still concerned, your health and safety representative (HSR) may be able to help.
The right to appropriate safety equipment
You need to be provided with safety equipment appropriate to your job. PPE needs to be in good condition and you need to know how to use it and to wear it properly.
The right to speak up
If you are not sure how to do something safely, ask your supervisor for help or training. If you are concerned about a health and safety issue, talk to your supervisor or HSR. Remember, health is both physical and psychological. If you are not satisfied with their response, contact SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50. You may request a translator to help you communicate.
The right to say no to unsafe work
You have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you are asked to do something that you think may be unsafe, stop and talk to your supervisor or HSR.
The right to be consulted
Consultation is a legal requirement that gives workers the opportunity to participate and share information about work health and safety.
Consultation must take place on all work health and safety matters including:
- undertaking risk management activities
- proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers
- making decisions about any work health and safety procedures
- the adequacy of facilities for the welfare of workers.
Using the knowledge and experience of everyone helps to identify safety hazards and risks easier as well as finding and communicating practical solutions.
The right to workers compensation
Your employer must be insured so if you get injured you can get the medical treatment you need and compensation for loss of income. This is called workers compensation insurance. If you get injured you need to make a workers compensation claim through your employer. Remember to ask your boss about this as soon as possible, and fill in any forms you need to apply for workers’ compensation.
If you are hurt, do not be afraid that you will get into trouble. Even if you have made a mistake, you should report the injury and ask for help.
Find out how to make a claim or call 13 10 50.
The right to a fair and just workplace
You have the right not to be bullied at work. Bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed at a worker or group of workers. If you are being bullied, you should first talk to your supervisor, HSR or another impartial person whom you trust. If that doesn’t work you can contact us to make a complaint.
If you think you are being bullied for a discriminatory reason (such as your gender, sexuality, race or religion), you should:
- visit the Human Rights Commission website for information
- speak to the anti-discrimination board in your state or territory.
For mental health support:
The right to fair pay and conditions
In Australia, there are minimum wages and working conditions. For information about rates of pay contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94. You may request a translator on 13 14 50.
Your safety responsibilities at work
As a worker you are required to take reasonable care of yourself and not do anything that would affect the health and safety of others at work.
You must follow any reasonable health and safety instructions from your employer. It is important that you:
- ask if you are not sure how to safely perform the work
- follow instructions and work safely
- report unsafe and unhealthy situations and injuries to your immediate supervisor
Remember, HSRs play an important role in representing the health and safety issues of a work group and can talk to your employer on your behalf. If you work through a group training organisation or labour hire agency, you can also report any work health and safety concerns to them.
Your employer’s responsibilities
Your employer must provide:
- a safe and healthy workplace (both physical and psychological)
- safe equipment, structures, and systems of work
- adequate workplace amenities and facilities
- induction and ongoing access to information, training and supervision
- the opportunity for you to talk about work health and safety.
We can help
SafeWork NSW is the State's work health and safety regulator. It is our responsibility to educate and ensure compliance with the work health and safety legislation in NSW. For more information about work health and safety, call us on 13 10 50.
Checklist for starting work
There are some important things that should happen when you first start a new job. Your employer (the boss) or another worker who knows the job should make sure that these things happen when you first start a new job. If you don’t understand English well, you can ask for an interpreter or ask another worker who speaks your language to explain it to you.
This checklist will help you work out whether you know about the things that are important for work health and safety.
Checklist for starting work
- Has somebody shown you how to do your job, and checked to make sure you are doing it safely?
- Have you met your boss and the people you will be working with, especially the people who look after your health and safety?
- Do you know who to ask if you are unsure of what to do or need help?
- Has someone shown you around the place where you will be working, and shown you the entry and exit points, toilets, meal room and first aid areas?
- Have you been told about any places you should not go, and why?
- Has somebody shown you how to safely use the equipment you need to do your job?
- Has somebody checked to make sure you are using it right?
- Do you have all the safety equipment you need?
- Do you know how to use it and wear it?
- Do you know what to do and who to tell if you are hurt or feel sick at work, and where to get help and first aid?
- Do you know how to call the fire brigade, police or ambulance?
- Do you know what to do if there is an emergency, and what the alarm sounds like?
- Do you know how to get out of your workplace in an emergency?
- Do you know who to ask about your health and safety?
Did you answer No for any questions? If so, talk to your boss or a more experienced worker to find out this important information for your own safety.
Checklist courtesy of Safe Work Australia. For a printable version of this checklist visit the Safe Work Australia website.