ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Every organisation and business, public or private, whether run by a sole proprietor or international company, local government or federal government, should have a policy relating to Occupational Health and Safety designed to protect the health, safety and welfare of all employees (including volunteers).93 Organisations also have a responsibility to actively promote the principles of occupational health and safety.

Occupational Health is:

  • the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers at all occupations.
  • the prevention, among workers, of departures from health caused by their working conditions and the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health.
  • the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his or her physiological and psychological constitution.

It has been recognised that goals deriving from the above principles can best be achieved and sustained through maximum involvement of management, employees, trade unions and other associations which represent employees.

An Example Policy Statement on Occupational Health and Safety is given for those organisations which have yet to develop a policy or have a part policy in place.


1. This organisation is committed to the vigorous promotion of occupational health, safety and welfare for all employees.

2. This organisation shall comply with all relevant legislation, state government policy and industrial awards consistent with the promotion of safe and healthy work practices.

3. This organisation shall accord occupational health and safety matters operational status equal to all other organisational considerations.

4. This organisation shall include occupational health, safety and welfare considerations in all quality assurance and accreditation endeavours.

5. This organisation shall at all times have written occupational health, safety and welfare and rehabilitation policy statements. These statements shall be reviewed annually. A copy of this policy statement shall be made available to all employees.


1. The promotion and maintenance of physical, mental and social well-being of all employees.

2. The prevention of injury and illness associated with work.

3. The provision of comprehensive rehabilitation programmes which:

  • conform to local requirements
    • meet the individual need of any person injured at work
  • involve the injured worker in all decisions regarding their return to work, alternative work and/or retraining

4. The establishment and maintenance of a formal structure within the organisational framework to:

  • implement and manage occupational health and safety strategies
  • ensure adequate and appropriate consultation between management and employees
  • monitor occupational health and safety experience in all employees




1.1 To establish and maintain designated work groups representative of specific employee categories and/or common occupational experience and work practices.

1.2 To ensure that each designated work group has an elected health and safety representative and a deputy health and safety representative.


2.1 Each health and safety representative shall be elected according to proper procedures.

2.2 Each elected health and safety representative shall be entitled to remunerated leave from work, in order to receive approved training in occupational health and safety.

2.3 Elected health and safety representatives shall be consulted and kept informed of all occupational health, safety and welfare matters.

2.4 All reasonable assistance shall be given to elected health and safety representatives in exercising their rights and carrying out their duties.

2.5 Free access for communication between line management and health and safety representatives will be ensured at all operational levels.


3.1 This organisation shall have an occupational health and safety committee.

3.2 Membership of this committee shall comprise equal representation from management and employees (elected health and safety representatives).

3.3 The occupational health and safety committee shall meet regularly (not less than quarterly).

3.4 The committee shall develop recommendations on policy and major management issues affecting health, safety, welfare and rehabilitation.

3.5 Specific terms of reference for the occupational health and safety committee shall take the functions of the committee into account.


4.1 The Chief Executive Officer of the organisation shall have executive responsibility for coordination of occupational health and safety.

4.2 The role of the Responsible Officer, (Occupational health and safety) may be delegated to a senior executive as a part of normal duties or be an appointment as a full time position.

4.3 The responsibilities of the Responsible Officer shall include:

a formulation and implementation of plans to promote action on, and interest in, a safe and healthy work environment.

b surveillance of health, safety and welfare experience.

c inspections of work areas and work practices.

d continual review of health, safety and welfare measures.

e dissemination of relevant information on health, safety and welfare from sources both inside and outside the organisation.

f advice at all levels of management on safety, health and welfare matters.

g supervision of the rehabilitation programme.

h implementation of education arrangements.

i preparation of the annual report.


The Annual Report of this organisation shall include information related to Occupational health and Safety.


1. Maintenance of plant, machinery and equipment at levels which ensure minimum risk to health.

2. Provision of information about safe work methods; known hazards and organisational occupational health and safety goals, aims, procedures and practices in language and format easily understood and acted upon by all employees.

3. Adoption of measures to minimise the risk and harmful effects of fire and explosion.

4. Application of occupational hygiene principles and control of harmful chemical substances, biological and physical agents including compliance with all requirements and regulations.

5. Provision of personal protective equipment, appropriate to the hazard and the person and adoption of measures to ensure that all users understand elements of proper use, maintenance and timely replacement.

6. Provision of appropriate occupational health and/or first aid services.

7. Implementation and maintenance of occupational injury/critical incident reporting systems which will facilitate investigation and remedial action.

8. Staff development in occupational health and safety for all employees.

9. Provision for training managers in the principles of occupational health and safety.


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