Human Resources Division

Safe work environment

This section contains obligations on all managers and staff.

Hazard reporting and paying attention to special situations in the workplace such as outdoor work and vaccinations are the subject of this section.

Report that hazard (see poster (29 KB))

A hazard is anything in the workplace which has the potential to harm people.  The hazard should be addressed locally and promptly if possible and this is the responsibility of the manager in whose area the hazard is located. 

While the University endeavours to provide a safe workplace, vigilance by staff is essential. Any hazard which cannot be addressed promptly and locally or through FMSD should be reported to the OHS Unit by telephone, email or by using this Accident and Hazard Report form (48 KB). Hazards brought to the attention of staff by students and others are to be handled in the same way.

Examples are:

  • if a computer lead is trailing across an area where people will walk, re-locate it (or the computer); obtain a velcro cover for the lead if re-location is not possible
  • if a chair in a meeting room is broken, label it as broken, remove it from the room and arrange for its disposal, or, if it is in a common use area, report the chair to FMSD for disposal and replacement
  • if a colleague asks you to help him or her by carrying some heavy boxes, stop and consider whether the boxes are too heavy, what your capacity is for carrying such items, where they will be lifted from, and if you conclude that the task is unsafe then suggest unpacking the boxes and dividing the loads, getting a trolley, or consulting the manager
  • if a step or a path outside a building is broken, report it to FMSD
  • if the building is too hot or too cold, report it to FMSD if you think it is due to a fault or ask your manager to raise the issue of an improvement to the system with the head of the organisational area
  • if no progress is made using the above avenues, or in the case of a systemic issue such as recurring hazards, report the matter to the OHS Unit
  • if a person on University grounds is acting suspiciously, call Security on 222 or 1800 062 579.

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Outdoor work and activities

Managers of staff working outdoors will, where possible:

  • move outdoor tasks indoors or under shelter or shade, particularly between 11am and 4pm in summer
  • ensure an indoor area or other shelter or shade is available for scheduled breaks
  • use budget centre funds to supply appropriate eye protection, sunscreen, lip balm and hats (with 10–12 cm brims or protective flaps)
  • direct staff to use the above items when working outdoors
  • when the temperature reaches 30°C, relocate staff to cooler areas
  • when the temperature reaches 35°C, relocate staff indoors
  • read for yourself and display for staff the WorkSafe guidance note on sun protection for outdoor workers.

Field work or other outdoor University activities involving students should be arranged so that students are not exposed for long periods to direct sunlight between 11am and 4pm in hot weather, or are not outdoors when the temperature is 30°C or more.

Staff organising sporting or other similarly physically demanding outdoor activities on behalf of the University or on University premises must conduct a risk assessment. The Australian Football League’s “Risk Management for Football Clubs” provides a useful example. For further information see the Sport Medicine Australia’s Hot Weather Guidelines. The activity should not proceed until the outcome of the risk assessment has been provided to the head of the organisational area and their approval obtained.

Indoor thermal comfort

Where practical, workplaces that are buildings need to be capable of maintaining a temperature range that is comfortable and suitable to the work. Optimum comfort for sedentary work is between 20°C and 26°C, depending on the time of the year and clothing worn. In enclosed workplaces, comfortable rates of air movement are usually between 0.1m and 0.2m per second. Staff undertaking work requiring physical exertion usually prefer a lower temperature range.

Where the indoor temperature in areas of light work such as offices reaches an ambient temperature of 30–32°C, staff will be entitled to a 10-minute break at the end of each 50 minutes with access to cool drinking water. When the temperature reaches above 32–35°C, the breaks will increase to 20 minutes at the end of each 40 minutes. When the temperature exceeds 35°C, staff should preferably be relocated to a cooler environment, or be given the option of leaving work for the remainder of the day without loss of ordinary pay.

When temperatures reach 35°C, students should preferably be relocated to a cooler environment or the remainder of the class cancelled, at the discretion of the Head of School or Pro Vice-Chancellor. Remember that of course students are able to leave a location without having to take into account University employment obligations and consequences as do staff.

In other indoor locations such as workshops, plant rooms, warehouses and so on, similar arrangements should be made by managers where practical, taking into account the amount of physical activity.

If you have any questions regarding measuring indoor temperatures, please contact the Facilities Services helpdesk on ext. 46246 (Melbourne), 71166 (Geelong), or 33103 (Warrnambool).

Any person with signs and symptoms of heat stress (e.g. feeling generally unwell or experiencing nausea, dizziness, weakness, clumsiness, collapse and convulsions) should seek immediate first aid or medical attention. Be aware of these signs and symptoms in others.

If a staff member has a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk of heat stress or similar, then they must bring to the attention of their supervisor any medical restrictions in warm conditions.  A doctor’s certificate setting out the risk and restrictions may be required.

Equipment with an exposed heating element such as a bar radiator is not to be used on University premises due to the risk of fire.

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Housekeeping – preventing slips and trips

Staff must keep their own work areas clean, tidy and safe, including:

  • removing tripping hazards such as loose cords, loose floor coverings and objects in walkways and working areas
  • storing materials stably and in a way that minimises manual handling risks
  • cleaning up or cordoning spills
  • removing paper and obstacles from the floor.

If there is a similar hazard in a shared area, such as a corridor or tearoom, then attend to it if possible or report it to FMSD
Managers’ workplace inspection checklists include housekeeping hazards.

Prevention of falls

Working from heights of two metres or more is separately regulated under the OHS Regulations. The head of any organisational area which has staff or contractors engaged in this kind of work must refer to the WorkSafe website and pages 9 to 11 of the WorkSafe Guide to Falls Prevention.  They must identify tasks carrying the risk of a fall and measures to be taken to address this risk. For more information contact the OHS Unit.

Prevention of occupational violence

Occupational violence is “any incident where an employee is physically attacked or threatened in the workplace” (WorkSafe), whether by a colleague or a third party. A university is not a workplace where violence should be of everyday concern.

If a staff member feels that his or her duties carry the risk of threat or physical attack the matter should be raised immediately with their manager. Managers who identify a security problem or risk for staff or students must carry out a risk assessment using the checklist at page 15 of this Western Australian Code of Practice: Violence, Aggression And Bullying At Work. FMSD and the OHS Unit can provide assistance.

If an assault has occurred or is there is an immediate likelihood of one, contact the police on 000 and Security on extension 222. An assault is a criminal matter.

For further information on prevention of occupational violence see the Western Australian Code of Practice: Violence, Aggression And Bullying At Work and the WorkSafe Guide: Workplace Violence and Bullying. There are also Personal Security Guidelines (17 KB) and Security Guidelines for Managers and Supervisors (41 KB).


Staff concerns about noise levels which cannot be addressed promptly and readily should be reported by managers to the Manager, OHS.

Children on University premises

A child may only be brought onto University premises in accordance with the Flexible Work Arrangements procedure. The staff member (i.e. the parent or guardian) must be aware of hazards and ensure the safety of the child. For example, be careful of heavy or automatic doors, lifts, people carrying hot drinks, scissors, staplers, staircases, carparks and the like.  The staff member must be with the child at all times.

In accordance with the Flexible Work Arrangements procedure and for safety reasons, children are not permitted at all in workshops, laboratories, other spaces with potentially dangerous equipment, and building sites, and children with infectious diseases requiring exclusion from childcare or school are not permitted in the workplace at all.

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Dogs and other companion animals on University premises

Dogs and other companion animals, except for seeing-eye dogs, are not permitted on University premises, for health and safety reasons. Enquiries about signage and stray animals may be directed to FMSD.


Vaccination may be appropriate for staff engaging in activities such as first aid duties, clinical work, handling human blood or other body substances, laboratory work, cleaning, gardening, maintenance, security and overseas travel. More information is contained in the Vaccination Guidelines.

(For student vaccination refer to the Current Students website. Some courses may specify vaccination as a requirement.)


For information on smoking refer to our page on health and wellbeing.

Alcohol and drugs

As stated in the Code of Conduct, staff must not engage in University activities or represent the University when impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs, whether licit or illicit. Among other things, by such conduct staff put themselves and others at risk, or reduce their ability to carry out their duties.

Managers are not to permit the operation of University plant or vehicles by staff affected by alcohol or drugs.

Only moderate amounts of alcohol are permitted at University or staff functions.

Drinking alcohol can have adverse health effects. Read more about the effects of alcohol.

The University’s Employee Assistance Program is available to staff who may be experiencing difficulties with use of alcohol.

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Motor vehicle safety

A motor vehicle being used for work purposes is a workplace regardless of whether the vehicle is owned and maintained by the University or owned by the staff member.

The Director Logistics is responsible for purchasing and maintaining a safe and roadworthy fleet. In practice this means defining and meeting safety criteria in the purchase and maintenance of vehicles and consulting with health and safety representatives and staff on those criteria. Managers and supervisors are required to:

  • ensure staff, students or contractors under their direct control that drive vehicles have the relevant appropriate driver licences
  • ensure staff, students or contractors that are required to use special vehicles such as four-wheel drives, minibuses or tow trailers etc. have the appropriate skills and experience
  • reduce where practical the amount of driving through the sharing of vehicles, use of conferencing technology, use of public transport and the scheduling of appointments
  • schedule work to account for speed limits and fatigue. This may mean allowing for regular breaks, minimising night driving and providing overnight accommodation.

Staff, contractors and students using University vehicles must:

  • hold a current, valid driver’s licence
  • not use hand held mobile phones while driving and minimise the use of hands-free phones
  • abide by all road rules including being considerate of, and courteous to other road users
  • refrain from driving if impaired by tiredness or medication
  • report any accidents, incidents or vehicle defects promptly
  • carry out any routine vehicle checks required by the University (this includes refuelling, replenishing windscreen wiper water, and maintaining tyre pressure).

Where a privately owned vehicle is used, the relevant manager is responsible for ensuring the vehicle meets commonly accepted safety standards.

Further information is provided by the Use of University Vehicles Guidelines and WorkSafe documents on vehicle selection and safe driving.

Prevention of workplace bullying

Bullying in the workplace is an OHS concern because it can result in psychological harm to victims. The University is committed to preventing workplace bullying and other inappropriate behaviours (see Prevention of Workplace Bullying Procedure).

WorkSafe Victoria defines bullying as "repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed toward an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety" and "unreasonable behaviour" as behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten”. While a single incident of such behaviour may not constitute bullying it may still be unacceptable.

The University strives to provide and promote an environment in which staff, students, contractors and visitors:

  • behave professionally and ethically
  • comply with University policies and procedures, statutory obligations and professional codes of conduct and practice
  • make decisions objectively in a fair and reasonable manner
  • work cooperatively and collaboratively with each other
  • treat others with respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity

The procedure for resolving workplace issues around personal behaviours applies to the resolution of complaints or concerns by a staff member about the behaviour of another staff member. This includes concerns that may constitute workplace bullying. This procedure can be used in so far as practical where the staff member has complaints or concerns about the behaviour of contractors, visitors or students. It can also be used in so far as practical by other staff members, including managers and supervisors

All staff are required to contribute to and foster a harmonious and equitable working environment. The University provides supervisory skills training for managers.

Managers (and managers' managers) are expected to:

  • create awareness among staff of their responsibilities for fostering a workplace where everyone is treated with dignity and respect (emphasised during staff recruitment, induction and contractor engagement)
  • communicate and consult with staff on workplace bullying through meetings, surveys and audits, and at OHS committees being aware of and taking into account the risk factors associated with bullying (see Prevention of Workplace Bullying Procedure)
  • ensure that staff are aware of the processes that are available to them to report and resolve complaints
  • encourage the reporting of bullying behaviours
  • respond to reports and incidents in a prompt, confidential, fair and reasonable manner, and
  • provide staff with the opportunity to attend relevant training (contact the OHS Unit for further information).

Managers should seek advice from the OHS Unit and take early and appropriate action when workplace conflict arises, bullying behaviours are first identified or workplace relationships start to deteriorate.

Staff are encouraged to report any instances of possible or actual bullying using the relevant complaints procedure. Further advice can be found in the Workplace Bullying Briefing Note.


Work-related stress is discussed in Reducing Work-related Stress: A Short Guide for Staff (116 KB) and Reducing Work-related Stress: A Guide for Managers (188 KB).

Where a health and safety concern about work-related stress is raised or identified, a manager should use the checklist in the Reducing Work-related Stress: A Guide for Managers (188 KB) to evaluate, and if necessary devise strategies to address, the concern, in consultation with HRD, and any Health and Safety Representative if the concern is raised by a member of a Designated Work Group.

Events on campus

Events on University premises may carry OHS risks. Before giving approval for an event on a University campus, the responsible manager must consult the Event and Visit Management Manual.

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

23rd May 2014