If you’re a business owner, do you know the measures you need to take to ensure the safety of your staff – and others?

As the owner or manager of a pest control business, you are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all your employees who could be affected by the hazards of the workplace.

This isn’t always easy, and the obligation is on you to ensure safety is high. But there are minimum requirements you need to be aware of.

Employers must provide and maintain a safe work environment, safe equipment and safe systems of work; must ensure the safe use, handling and storage of equipment and chemicals; ensure adequate facilities, including toilets, washing and eating facilities and first aid; provide instruction, training, information and supervision as necessary; and must monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace.

It may surprise you to know that these health and safety obligations do not merely relate to your employees. Under Work Health and Safety laws in operation throughout much of Australia, the obligation to ensure health and safety has been expanded to cover employees, labour hire staff, volunteers, work experience students, contractors and sub-contractors. In effect, it covers anyone who does any work for you.

It is not a one-way street, though – even if they don’t realise it, your workers also have health and safety obligations.

The duties for workers include: taking reasonable care of their own safety at work; taking reasonable care to ensure that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others; complying with reasonable instructions from you to assist them in complying with the health and safety legislation; and cooperating with policies or procedures relating to health and safety.

If you are a business that has sub-contractor arrangements in place, you need to be aware that your work health and safety obligations extend to employees of sub-contractors, even though there may not be any direct contractual relationship between you and the sub-contractor. When engaging contractors, you must ensure that your workplace and the workplace activities do not create a risk to this worker. In return, they must work safely and not create a risk to other workers.

As a business, it is crucial that you get this right. Key to this is the implementation of health and safety policies both at a management level (to ensure you are doing everything necessary to comply with your obligations) as well at a worker level (to ensure your workers are aware of and comply with their obligations).

Failing to comply with workplace safety laws could, at worst, result in your company facing a lawsuit – and not necessarily from one of your own employees.

Melissa Shaw, Health and Safety Consultant, Employsure