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Health & safety

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Health & safety

Everyone has a right to be safe at work, including volunteers. Volunteers play a vital role in communities across Australia and make significant contributions by carrying out unpaid work for a variety of organisations every day. Not all organisations owe work health and safety (WHS) duties to volunteers, but those that do must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the physical and mental health and safety of its workers, including volunteers.

Work health and safety laws

New work health and safety laws commenced in Queensland on 1 January 2012.  

1. Safe Work Australia
Detailed guidance about Work Health and Safety legislation for volunteers and volunteer organisations is available on the Safe Work Australia website. The volunteer organisation resource kit is particularly useful. These resources offer very clear guidance and are written in a very accessible way. They also provide a range of FAQs and useful links and contacts if you are seeking further information.

Safe Work Australia also provide information on How volunteer organisations can comply with the model Work Health and Safety Act.

2. In Safe Hands
The Australian Government has recently committed $302,500 to supporting Conservation Volunteers Australia to deliver the In Safe Hands training package to Landcare and other natural resource management community groups across Australia. In Safe Hands is designed to provide guidance to community groups engaged in practical conservation activities to eliminate or minimise associated risks and meet duties under Work Health and Safety legislation. The In Safe Hands toolkit will be made available to Landcare groups (free of charge) and 15 regional training workshops will also be held around Australia in the first half of 2013. More information will be available on the Conservation Volunteers Website.

Flow chart of work health and safety – event process

The following flow chart aims to provide assistance to landcare groups who are undertaking activities on site involving landcare members and/or volunteers to ensure health and safety are considered and managed.

The flow chart has been developed by adapting the Victoria landcare ‘Landcare Group Risk Prevention Tool Kit’ to provide a Queensland equivalent version using health and safety forms developed by Queensland Water and Land Carers (QWaLC).

Project risk assessment

As an organiser or facilitator of an activity in which you encourage other people to participate, you owe those people a duty of care. The expectation is that you will take reasonably practicable steps to protect them against reasonably foreseeable accident or injury. In simple terms this means look ahead, foresee how people could be harmed, then put in place measures to prevent that from happening.

To assist community groups with risk assessments, QWaLC has developed a Project Risk Assessment Form which guides groups through the process of incorporating risk assessment into all projects and activities. It outlines seven steps to a simple risk assessment, a risk score form and example risk assessment.

A more comprehensive Landcare Group Risk Prevention Tool Kit has been developed by Victoria Landcare. Although this was developed for groups found in the State of Victoria, many of the resources in this guide are also applicable to groups in South East Queensland.

Hire agreement form

Victoria Landcare has developed a Hire Agreement Form which Landcare and related community groups can use as an equipment hire agreement.

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