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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).

The University's OHS policy is in The Guide.



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

A manager's responsibilities

Responsibilities of all managers

  • Contribute to your area’s annual HWS Activity Plan including workplace inspection schedule
  • Develop appropriate local emergency arrangements. Provide adequate numbers of first aiders and wardens
  • Check your HWS Risk Register periodically to ensure it is relevant
  • Check whether your risk assessments and standard operating procedures are relevant and up to date
  • Verify that staff, students and contractors are competent to carry out work safely and are following safe work practices
  • Ensure that staff, students and contractors have received appropriate inductions and training
  • Ensure that all staff, students (as appropriate) and contractors are familiar with emergency and evacuation procedures
  • Consult staff on OHS matters and actively engage them on HWS matters
  • Coach staff on safety matters and have safety conversations to promote safe working practices and behaviours
  • Organise and participate in safety activities including training, risk assessments and workplace inspections
  • Intervene early to address staff HWS matters including psychological health and workplace conflict
  • Assist injured or ill staff to return to work successfully
  • Inform staff, students and contractors of OHS requirements and expectations
  • Inform the HWS Unit (Human Resources) immediately of any serious injury
  • Review your progress against your area’s annual HWS Activity Plan
  • Review incident reports, ensure staff welfare and identify root causes

Who is a manager in terms of OHS responsibilities?

Group You are a manager under the OHS Act if you:

Manage or supervise:

  • other continuing or casual staff
  • work experience students
  • volunteers


  • teaching or tutorial classes
  • practical classes
  • research work carried out by others
  • organise placements
  • organise field work
  • organise study tours

Engage, manage, authorise or supervise:

  • contractors directly or through a contractor supervisor
  • temporary staff
  • consultants working on Deakin premises
  • persons engaged through labour hire arrangements

Supervise or invite:

  • visitors

Look after or control spaces

  • used or occupied by visitors

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.

Managers with University wide OHS responsibilities

Managers have University wide responsibilities either through their membership of the University Executive or through the nature of their University-wide operations. The latter group includes:

  • the Executive Director, Infrastructure and Property Group (IPG) 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.

Responsibilities of managers with University wide responsibilities

  • Acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of work health and safety matters
  • Ensure there are processes for receiving and considering information about incidents, hazards and risks in a timely way
  • Ensure staff are consulted on University-wide matters affecting OHS
  • Verify that there are adequate and appropriate resources and processes to support HWS
  • Ensure the University has, and implements, processes for complying with any legal duty or obligation
  • Participate in safety activities including training to ensure your OHS knowledge is up to date
  • Visibly and actively comply with OHS requirements when visiting workplaces
  • Deal strategically with staff health, wellbeing and safety matters to address organisational issues that cause or drive physical or psychological injury
  • Review HWS performance of the University and major factors influencing that performance
  • Review major or critical incident reports and ensure their root causes have been addressed
  • Review implementation of the University’s HWS Strategy
  • Ensure HWS processes are verified, monitored and reviewed

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
  • supervises three post-graduate students in their research
  • reports to Head of School A in the Faculty of Q
  • has no University 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
  • ensures that there is a reasonable level of housekeeping maintained in offices, laboratories and adjacent public areas
  • ensures that there adequate wardens, first aiders and emergency arrangements in place
  • ensures that the academic staff member evaluates the field trip in advance for health and safety issues for both staff and students
  • follows up injuries, incidents or hazards reported or identified in inspections or audits.

The Executive Dean:

  • holds the Head of School to account for the above
  • includes all the above areas in their annual Health, Wellbeing and Safety Plan and Activity Plan

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
  • follows instructions provided about health and safety in this manual and by the Head of School
  • provides a level of supervision to their postgraduate students to ensure their safety whilst carrying out their studies or research work
  • reviews the safety of student research proposals and monitors the safety of ongoing work
  • report sany injuries, incidents or hazards through the Incident Reporting System

The Manager, HWS reviews incident reports, initiates formal incident investigations, analyses and reports on incident trends and follows-up.

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

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

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.

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