Workplace safety means staying safe and free from injury at work. It relates to both your physical health and your mental health. Sometimes it’s called occupational safety or occupational health and safety.
Unfortunately, young workers aged between 15 and 24 are more likely to be physically injured at work than any other age group.
Your employer has a legal obligation to make sure both workers and visitors to the workplace are not at risk of injury.
The agency responsible for workplace safety in Victoria is called WorkSafe Victoria.
WorkSafe Victoria promotes workplace safety. It makes sure employers follow Victorian workplace safety laws to keep people safe.
WorkSafe Victoria also manages Victoria’s workplace compensation program. Workplace compensation means that if you get hurt at work, you won’t have to pay for your medical costs. You can make a claim for any expenses related to your injury.
You can also claim for lost income. For example, if you can’t work for a period of time because you were injured at work, you can claim for the wages you missed out on.
Workplace safety training
When you start a new job, your employer must train you properly to make sure you can do the job safely.
When you're new to a job and have never done that kind of work before, you should always be supervised. You shouldn't be left alone if you're doing a task that puts you at risk of injury.
If you don't think you've had enough training or supervision to keep you safe in your workplace, speak to your manager about it. If you don't want to talk to them, ask your supervisor or an older or more experienced workmate.
Remember it's always better to ask questions if you don't understand what you've been told to do, or if you're not sure how to do it safely.
Health and Safety Representatives at work
Your workplace may also have an elected Health and Safety Representative (HSR). The HSR can help you with anything to do with health and safety at work. This includes mental health issues such as stress at work, discrimination at work and bullying and violence at work.
Questions or concerns about safety at work
If you have any questions or concerns about safety at work, contact WorkSafe Victoria’s Advisory Service.
The Advisory Service has information about general safety issues or specific advice on safety at your workplace. They can also tell you about what to do if you are injured.
You can contact the Advisory Service telephone by calling 1800 136 089 or (03) 9641 1444 between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Your call can be anonymous.
What to do if you’re injured at work
If you’re injured at work, WorkSafe Victoria can:
- pay your medical expenses
- give you a lump-sum payment if you’re permanently disabled
- pay your wages while you’re not working.
How to make a WorkSafe Victoria claim
The first thing to do is seek medical treatment for your injury. You need to keep all the receipts and invoices from your treatment.
You also need to notify your employer in writing that you’ve been injured at work. Your workplace may have a form for you to fill in. If there’s no form, it’s okay just to send an email or a letter informing your employer of your injury. You must do this within 30 days of the incident.
Continue to visit your doctor and to advise your employer about your time away from work. If you want to claim for lost income, you need to get a medical certificate called a ‘certificate of capacity’ from your doctor.
You then need to fill in the worker’s injury claim form and give it to your employer along with your certificate of capacity. You can find this form on the WorkSafe Victoria website, which has a step-by-step guide to making a claim, as well as the process for returning to work after an injury.
Returning to work
Returning to work after an injury can be a difficult time. But getting back to normal can help you recover sooner. You might return to work on reduced hours in your usual job, or on modified or alternative duties.
Your employer must appoint a Return to Work Coordinator to help you get back to work.
Your Return to Work Coordinator is someone from your workplace who helps you return to work. They can speak on your behalf, and they make sure you’re doing okay at work. They also make sure you won’t make your injury worse at work.
It’s against the law for your employer to sack you because of an injury.
WorkSafe Victoria has more information on returning to work after a work-related injury or incident.
Useful workplace safety contacts
Information about worker rights and obligations, reporting a workplace incident, and how to get assistance.
Call the toll free advisory service on 1800 136 089, or email via the online form.
Victorian community legal centre specialising in employment law.
Phone (03) 9662 1933 in Melbourne, or 1800 331 617 in regional Victoria.