Human Resources Division

Introduction - OHS responsibilities

This section contains obligations for all managers and staff.

This manual sets out instructions to staff of the University about occupational health and safety (OHS). Other information and checklists are also provided through links in the manual or on the University OHS website. The aim of this manual is to promote safe work practices, to manage OHS risks, to inform staff and to assist in providing a safe environment for University staff and contractors, students and visitors.

The manual resides on the University’s OHS website and is maintained by the OHS Unit in the Human Resources Services Division (HRSD). Enquiries in relation to this manual may be directed to the Manager, OHS, Michael O’Donoghue, on extension 68175 or by email.

The University’s OHS policy is in The Guide.

Role of OHS Unit

The OHS Unit provides advice and services in relation to workplace health and safety, emergency management, workers’ compensation and the rehabilitation of injured workers.

The Manager, OHS has authority to require from relevant managers -

  • the completion and submission of health and safety plans
  • health and safety compliance reports
  • completed checklists and risk assessments
  • information about health and safety matters (e.g., a list of stored chemicals).

The OHS Unit liaises with WorkSafe (also known as the Victorian WorkCover Authority). WorkSafe is the regulator of OHS in Victoria. WorkSafe’s website provides wide-ranging information about OHS in Victoria.

Staff must promptly refer any notice, telephone call or other communication from WorkSafe to the OHS Unit.

Contact details for the OHS Unit can be found on the OHS website.


Follow these links to view the major Victorian legislation governing OHS:

Who is a manager?

For the purposes of this manual, a “manager” is:

  • a staff member (academic or general) with a line management responsibility for another staff member or a contractor
  • a staff member carrying out  teaching duties, such as giving a lecture, supervising a laboratory class, supervising researchers or organising a field trip
  • a staff member who has arranged for a visitor to attend University premises, or who is attending to, a visitor to University premises.

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A manager’s OHS responsibilities

Managers are responsible for OHS in the location(s) in which they and their staff and contractors work, including laboratories, lecture theatres and other teaching and research spaces and some off-site workplaces.  Managers are also responsible for OHS in areas where they are teaching students or receiving visitors.

Heads of organisational areas (i.e., faculties, divisions, institutes and offices of members of the Senior Executive) must ensure that the managers who report to them carry out their OHS responsibilities, as well as carrying out these duties themselves in relation to their own offices. Heads of organisational areas have additional duties set out in this manual, for example, submission of health and safety plans.

A number of senior managers have University-wide OHS responsibilities. These include:

  • the Director, Facilities Management Services Division (FMSD) who is  responsible for OHS in connection with all University structures and grounds
  • the Director, Information Technology Services Division (ITSD) who is responsible for OHS in connection with the choice and installation of IT equipment and systems
  • the Director, Logistics who is responsible for OHS in connection with the choice of vehicles.

A manager is expected, as applicable, to:

  • ensure that new staff and contractors undergo a safety induction as soon as possible after their commencement at the University (including location of emergency exits, assembly points, first aiders list and the health and safety aspects of the work which is to be done)
  • inform all staff about this manual
  • ensure that OHS is a standing item on staff meeting agendas, inviting OHS issues to be raised, conveying OHS information and canvassing staff views
  • conduct inspections of each University workplace occupied by their staff, students or contractors in consultation with the local Health and Safety Representative, if there is one, according to the schedule below, using the workplace inspection checklists and involving staff and any contractors in the inspection:

Offices                     2 times per year
Workshops               6 times per year
Laboratories             3 times per year
Plant rooms              2 times per year
Warehousing            4 times per year
Chemical stores        3 times per year

  • address any health or safety dangers or risks (“hazards”) which have been identified by inspection or otherwise, such as a heavy manual handling task or poor chemical storage practice
  • print out and display 'Report that Hazard' posters (29 KB) in office and other indoor areas including lecture theatres and on student noticeboards
  • familiarise staff, contractors and students with laboratory safety procedures
  • develop for hazardous work or equipment, safe working instructions and ensure job safety assessments are carried out
  • operate permit and lock out procedures to manage access to hazardous locations or to control particularly hazardous work
  • evaluate field trips and student placements for health and safety issues (see Off-Campus University activities)
  • operate a signing in and out, or authorisation, system for contractors (see Contractor and Visitor Safety)
  • obtain prior agreement from contractors to observe the University’s health and safety requirements
  • identify and address hazards in a contractor’s working environment at the University and if the hazards cannot be addressed inform the contractor of them and discuss protective measures
  • inform the OHS Unit immediately of any injury to anyone on University premises or engaged in University activities off-campus where the injury required hospitalisation, or of any near-miss due to explosion or spillage of a substance ( see Injuries and Incidents - Reporting and Following Up)
  • print out and display "If you are injured" posters on staff noticeboards.

Who is an employee?

For OHS purposes, “employee” includes:

  • all staff, whether ongoing, fixed-term or casual
  • independent contractors of the University and their employees
  • work experience students engaged by the University.

The role of employees

Employees are expected to:

  • follow safety instructions in the workplace
  • keep their workspaces safe (e.g. ensure that they do not leave items to trip over)
  • take care when performing duties to ensure that they do not expose themselves, a colleague, a student or any other person to risk of harm
  • report health and safety hazards in the workplace
  • participate in required training
  • wear protective clothing provided
  • read health and safety information provided at work
  • report any injury suffered by them in the workplace.

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Example of OHS responsibilities

An academic staff member:

  • teaches in lecture theatre X twice a week (the lecture theatre being available to all faculties)
  • conducts tutorials in room Y once a week
  • conducts research in laboratory Z
  • reports to head of school A in the faculty of Q
  • has no staff reporting to them
  • takes students on a field trip once a semester
  • parks their car in the multi-level carpark on the Melbourne campus at Burwood.

Who is responsible for which health and safety matters in this scenario?

  • the head of school inspects the academic staff member’s immediate workspace, and laboratory and follows up any hazards and makes safety information available
  • the head of school ensures that there is a reasonable level of housekeeping maintained in offices, laboratories and adjacent public areas
  • the head of school ensures that there adequate wardens, first aiders and emergency arrangements in place
  • the dean holds the head of school to account for the above
  • the dean includes all these areas in their annual health and safety plan
  • the head of school ensures that the academic staff member evaluates the field trip in advance for health and safety issues for both staff and students
  • the Director, ITSD attends to the IT safety aspects of the lecture theatre and classroom
  • the Director, FMSD attends to the structural, electrical and fire safety of, the buildings in which the academic staff member’s workspace, the lecture theatre, the tutorial room and the laboratory are located
  • the academic staff member performs their duties safely in a manner to avoid harm to themselves or anyone else
  • the academic staff member follows instructions provided about health and safety in this manual and by the head of school
  • the academic staff member reports any injuries, incidents or hazards to the head of school and the Manager, OHS
  • the head of school follows up minor injuries, incidents or hazards and the Manager, OHS reviews the reports and follow-up
  • the Manager, OHS follows up major injuries, incidents or hazards.

Delegation of OHS Responsibilities

For practical reasons managers may delegate some of their OHS responsibilities to other managers or supervisors. The manager remains fully responsible for the health and safety of their staff. The manager must ensure the person to whom responsibility has been delegated has the appropriate skills and authority to carry out the delegated duties.

What is an OHS "hazard"? What is an OHS "risk"?

A hazard is anything in the workplace which has the potential to harm people.
A risk arises when it is possible that a hazard will actually cause harm.
Read more at the WorkSafe website.

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Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

21st October 2011