Health care and social assistance
Key safety information for hospitals and medical services as well as social assistance services like child care and counselling.
- medical services
- residential and aged care services
- child care services
- disabilities services
- counselling services
- adoption services
- the operation of soup kitchens.
Top causes of injury
This industry has one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses reported each year. Workers may be exposed to a range of hazards depending on the services they provide, the location of the workplace, and the clients being cared for.
It is possible to reduce or prevent worker exposure to these hazards but due to the nature of the work, the significant level of face-to-face interactions in the work, and the varied workplaces staff function in, it will not be possible to eliminate all injuries and illnesses.
The top causes of injury include:
- lifting people or moving beds and trolleys
- slips, trips and falls involving stairs or falling over objects in high traffic areas
- mental stress
- occupational violence and aggression.
Interacting with the public presents specific hazards for workers, as does regular manual lifting and shift work.
Each workplace is different and you need to know what the hazards are in your business so you can assess the risk they pose. To help you get started, we’ve prepared information on how to identify hazards and manage the risks common to the health care and social assistance industry including:
You must notify blood, body substance and needlestick injuries.
Resources to help you
As the work health and safety regulator in NSW, we have a wide range of technical, business, management and support services to help you make our business safe.
Our 'resource' and 'hazard' libraries
We also have extensive information that will help you improve and review your risk management processes. This includes videos, checklists, training and supervisory information, and safety alerts.
SafeWork Australia also has a fact sheet on developing a hazardous chemicals register.
Our safety management resources
Our Safety starts here section has a range of essential resources including:
- business must haves like emergency plans and first aid
- the basics for physical safety at work
- the basics for mental health at work
Our business resources
Our safety support services
If you employ fewer than 50 workers, you can book request a workplace advisory visit by one of our SafeWork inspectors who will help you identify hazards and develop risk management procedures.
Our mentor program, where other businesses work with you to improve safety in your workplace, is also a valuable addition to your risk management program.
You can call us on 13 10 50 at any time for assistance in finding the services you need quickly.
Keeping up to date
Get into the habit of checking our website twice a week for updates on your legislative obligations, on current incidents and prosecutions, for new safety tips and general health and safety information.
Subscribe to the SafeWork Wrap, our monthly newsletter, which contains safety tips, general information, industry updates, and news about our prosecutions and enforceable undertakings.
Subscribe to industry publications and join your industry group. For health care and community workers, these organisations may be useful:
- Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA)
- Australian Medical Association NSW (AMA)
- Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (ASMOF)
- Australian Services Union (ASU) for social and community workers
- Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)
- Health Services Union (HSU)
- NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA)
- NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN)
- Rural Doctors Association (NSW)
For health care managers and service owners or directors the following organisations will provide information and assistance:
- Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA)
- Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA)
- Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA)
- Health Services Association of NSW (HSA NSW)
The NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (WHS Regulation) define the obligations both employers and workers have to health and safety in the workplace.
You can find a complete breakdown of business operations that fall within the administrative and support services industry from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).