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General workplace management

General workplace management includes provisions that relate to information, training and instruction, general working environment, first aid, emergency plans, personal protective equipment, remote or isolated work, managing risks from airborne contaminants, hazardous atmospheres, storage of flammable or combustible substances and falling objects.

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General working environment (workplace facilities)

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) at a workplace must ensure that the following is provided and maintained, so far as is reasonably practicable, without risk to a person's health and safety:

  • a means of entry, exit and movement within the workplace
  • a work space
  • floors and surfaces designed, installed and maintained for the tasks being undertaken
  • adequate lighting to enable each person to carry out work, move within workplace and evacuate in an emergency
  • ventilation
  • control of risks associated with extremes in temperatures
  • control of risks associated with essential services
  • adequate facilities for workers (inc. include toilets, drinking water, washing and eating facilities), maintained in good working order and clean, safe and accessible.

The requirements for workplace facilities may vary from one workplace to the next, depending on the nature of the work carried out at the workplace, the types of hazards present, the size, location and nature of the workplace and the number and composition of workers at the workplace. All these factors should be taken into account by a PCBU in deciding the provision and maintenance of adequate and accessible facilities.

View the Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 712.55 KB).

Managing risks from airborne contaminants

A PCBU must ensure that no one at the workplace is exposed to a substance or mixture in an airborne concentration which exceeds its exposure standard.

A PCBU must ensure that air monitoring is conducted to determine if the airborne concentration of the substance or mixture at the workplace if the PCBU is uncertain whether the exposure standard has been exceeded or whether there is a risk to health. If monitoring is conducted, the results must be recorded and retained for 30 years and be accessible to persons exposed at the workplace.

Managing chemicals

Keep in mind the health and safety of yourself and others when cleaning up chemical spills, especially if it is a chemical concentrate. The safety data sheet (SDS) gives information for cleaning up a chemical spill.

Each chemical has an identification code, called a UN number (a four digit number assigned by the United Nations to identify dangerous goods), which you can find stamped on the container or on its label. It is also found on the relevant SDS. If you call an emergency number to report a chemical incident, supply them with the UN number.

Try to contain a chemical spill so that it does not get into a watercourse or storage facility.

Hazardous atmospheres

A duty holder must manage risks associated with a hazardous atmosphere. An atmosphere is a hazardous atmosphere if:

  • the atmosphere does not have a safe oxygen level (e.g. grain respiration occurring in grain silos leading to an oxygen depleted atmosphere, or effluent pits depleted in oxygen as a result of microbial action, or use of vehicle exhaust gas to purge a tank or vessel)
  • the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere increases the fire risk (e.g. gas leak from a compressed oxygen cylinder used for welding activities in a confined area raising the oxygen concentration)
  • the concentration of a flammable gas, vapour, mist, or fumes exceeds five% of the lower explosive limit for the gas, vapour, mist or fumes (e.g. tanks and containers containing residual fuel, or use of solvents in enclosed areas)
  • a hazardous chemical in the form of a combustible dust is present in a quantity and form that would result in a hazardous area (combustible dusts include wood dust, bio-solids, sugar, starch, flour, feed, and grain. Hazards may exist when these dusts are finely divided, accumulate and become suspended in the air to create a hazardous atmosphere (e.g. grain silos or enclosed grain handling facilities where air-borne dust is generated).

A duty holder must also manage the risks associated with an ignition source in a hazardous atmosphere.

Storage of flammable or combustible substances

A duty holder must ensure that if flammable or combustible substances are kept at the workplace, the substances are kept at the lowest practicable quantity for the workplace.

Flammable or combustible substances include:

  • flammable and combustible liquids, including waste liquids, in containers, whether empty or full
  • gas cylinders, whether empty or full.

Information, training and instruction

Under a PCBU's primary duty of care (under section 19 of the WHS Act) they must provide information, training and instruction to a worker that is suitable and adequate to:

  • the nature of the work to be carried out by the worker
  • the nature of the risks associated with the work (at the time the information, training or instruction is provided)
  • the control measures implemented to deal with these risks.

The PCBU must also ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the information, training and instruction provided is readily understandable.

Last updated
25 August 2020

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