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). 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 Health, Wellbeing and Safety (HWS) Unit in the Human Resources Division (HRD). Enquiries in relation to this manual may be directed to the Manager, HWS, Michael O'Donoghue, on extension 68175 or by email.

The University's OHS policy is in The Guide.

Role of Health, Wellbeing and Safety (HWS) unit

The Health, Wellbeing and Safety (HWS) unit provides advice and services in relation to workplace health and safety, emergency management, staff welfare and wellbeing, workers' compensation and the rehabilitation of injured workers.

The Manager, HWS 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 HWS team 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 HWS unit.


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.

A manager's 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.

Senior managers responsibilities

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

  • the Executive Director, Facilities Services Division (FSD) who is  responsible for OHS in connection with all University structures and grounds
  • the Chief Digital Officer, eSolutions who is responsible for OHS in connection with the choice and installation of IT equipment and systems
  • the Executive Director, Campus Services who is responsible for OHS in connection with the choice of vehicles.

Expectations of managers

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:
Area Times per year
Office Two
Workshops Six
Laboratories Three
Plant rooms Two
Warehousing Four
Chemical stores Three
  • 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  (DOC, 28.0 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.

Example of 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 DVC holds the head of school to account for the above
  • the DVC 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 Chief Digital Officer, eSolutions attends to the IT safety aspects of the lecture theatre and classroom
  • the Director, Facilities Services Division 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, HWS
  • the Head of School follows up minor injuries, incidents or hazards and the Manager, HWS reviews the reports and follow-up
  • the Manager, HWS follows up major injuries, incidents or hazards.

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 work spaces 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

Delegation of 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/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.

Page custodian: Human Resources Division
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