Safe work environment
This section contains obligations on all managers and staff.
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 Facilities Services Division (FSD) should be reported to the Health, Wellbeing and Safety (HWS) Unit by telephone, email or by using this Accident and Hazard Report form (DOC, 48.5 KB) . Hazards brought to the attention of staff by students and others are to be handled in the same way.
- 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 FSD 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 FSD
- if the building is too hot or too cold, report it to FSD 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 HWS Unit
- if a person on University grounds is acting suspiciously, call Security on 222 or 1800 062 579.
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.
Slips, trips and falls are the most common reported accident at Deakin. Most slips, trips and falls are preventable through good design, appropriate maintenance, housekeeping and cleaning, individual risk management and effective hazard identification and reporting.
The actual causes of the slip, trip or fall can be complex. These causes, more accurately, contributing factors, can include:
- Weather, especially rain
- Lighting - especially at the bottom of stairs and steps
- Lack of maintenance of paths and steps
- Cleaning regimes - either too little, or the opposite too much polishing
- Human error such as leaving cords across pathways, other poor housekeeping or failing to properly repair paths after other work
- Failure to match surfaces to human capability especially where limited by age or disability
- Poor or inappropriate designs
- Individual misjudgement about risk such as taking shortcuts, hurrying, getting distracted or wearing higher risk footwear.
In many cases the actual accident is caused by a combination of the above factors.
The best approach for local staff and managers is to incorporate slip, trip and fall prevention into your routine inspections and ensure all staff are encouraged to report "near misses" and hazards (DOC, 48.5 KB) . The training and e-learning packages below can be incorporated into your refresher and local training programs to promote awareness and understanding on how slips, trips and falls can be prevented.
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.
Training and e-Learning Packages
The STEP Tool is an eLearning package developed by the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive, providing slips and trips guidance through interactive learning. It is an easy way to learn about slips and trips, how they are caused, why preventing them is important and how to tackle them. This is supported by various resources including training packages.
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. Facilities Services Division and the Health, Wellbeing and Safety 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 (PDF, 16.1 KB) and Security Guidelines for Managers and Supervisors (PDF, 40.9 KB) .
Staff concerns about noise levels which cannot be addressed promptly and readily should be reported by managers to the Manager, Health, Wellbeing and Safety.
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.
Companion animals including dogs are not permitted on University premises, for health and safety reasons. Companion animals do not include seeing-eye dogs and other working animals. Enquiries about signs and stray animals may be directed to Security (Campus Services Division).
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 (PDF, 49.4 KB) .
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.
Deakin’s Alcohol policy is a clear statement that sets out the framework for the responsible supply and consumption of alcohol by students, staff and associates of the University at any activity or events where they are representing the University.
While at work Deakin staff including contractors must ensure that they are not impaired by the effects of alcohol and drugs during the course of their work. The Alcohol Policy and the Code of Conduct, provides a clear framework for students, staff and other members of the University community for the responsible supply and consumption of alcohol at any activity or event where they are representing the University.
The Alcohol policy also describes specific work activities where alcohol is not to be consumed because of the inherent high risk nature of the work.
The University will provide support for students and staff who are experiencing alcohol-related issues, including addiction. Students needing assistance with alcohol related issues should contact the Division of Student Life. Staff needing assistance with alcohol related issues should contact/speak with their manager, the Human Resources Division Health, Wellbeing and Safety team, their HR Client Partner or the Employee Assistance Program.
The Department of Health guidelines provide answers to a range of common questions that will assist you to understand some of the risk related to alcohol consumption and why as a community we need to understand how it affects our mental and physical health.
What do I need to know if I am a Deakin manager or supervisor?
Managing the use of alcohol at events
The Alcohol policy provides a useful event risk assessment template for event organisers to use so that event related risks which include alcohol service and consumption can be managed by event organisers. It must be completed as part of planning any University event.
Event organisers must fully understand the Alcohol policy and applicable laws, regulations and University procedures and guidelines and manage their events accordingly. They also are expected to keep the safety and well-being of participants at the forefront of their planning and management of events. Further information can be found at www.vcglr.vic.gov.au
Low risk events need to be managed and this checklist can assist managers and event organisers to ensure alcohol related risk is systematically considered and addressed.
What do I need to know about the health impacts of alcohol?
Factors such as gender, age, mental health, drug use, and existing medical conditions can change how alcohol affects you. Responsible drinking is about balancing your enjoyment of alcohol with the potential risks and harm that may arise from drinking - especially if you go beyond low risk drinking levels.
What do the guidelines recommend?
- For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime.
- Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.
What are the health risks?
Alcohol and drugs “change the balance of chemicals that help your brain to think, feel, create and make decisions. The drugs and alcohol you use can affect you both now and in the future. Changing drug and alcohol habits can take time, but with support and perseverance you will notice positive changes in your mental and physical wellbeing.” Beyond Blue 2017
The health risks that accumulate over a lifetime from alcohol increase progressively - this means that the more you drink, the greater the risk. Drinking alcohol can affect your liver or cause brain damage, heart disease, high blood pressure and increases your risk of many cancers. It may also increase your risk of injury through road trauma, violence, falls and accidental death.
What is a standard drink?
A standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. It is important to note that drink serving sizes are often more than one standard drink. There are no common glass sizes used in Australia. The label on an alcoholic drink container tells you the number of standard drinks in the container.
Tips to reduce the risk to your health when drinking
It is possible to drink at a level that is less risky, while still having fun. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you stay within low risk levels and don't get to a stage where you are no longer capable of controlling your drinking.
- Set limits for yourself and stick to them
- Start with non-alcoholic drinks and alternate with alcoholic drinks
- Drink slowly
- Try drinks with a lower alcohol content
- Eat before or while you are drinking
- If you participate in rounds of drinks try to include some non-alcoholic drinks
Alcohol and mental health
There is growing evidence that alcohol increases the risk of some mental health problems, like depression and anxiety. Around 37% of people who report problems with alcohol also have a co-occurring anxiety and/or mood disorder. The risk of having a mental illness is around four times higher for people who drink alcohol heavily than for people who don’t. For more information on this important research click the link here to the Better Health Channel.
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.
Work-related stress is discussed in Reducing Work-related Stress: A Short Guide for Staff (PDF, 115.2 KB) and Reducing Work-related Stress: A Guide for Managers (PDF, 187.3 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 (PDF, 187.3 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.
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 Health, Wellbeing and Safety Unit.