2 min read

Where does a company's responsibility start and finish?

Q: We operate a number of remote facilities in Queensland where workers and their families live on our premises. Where does the company’s responsibility begin and end? For example, what happens if children or other visitors on site are involved in an incident and are injured?

We look after the housing and maintain it to the various standards, e.g. electrical installations.

A: You will have several duties as a person conducting and business or undertaking (PCBU) under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (WHS Act), particularly if the accommodation you are providing is located on or near the workplace.

Obligations in respect of accommodation provided by a PCBU

If you own or manage the accommodation where employees lodge, you will be required, so far as it is reasonably practicable, to maintain the premises so that the worker occupying it is not exposed to risks to health and safety (see section 19 (4) of the WHS Act).

The Managing the work environment and facilities Code of Practice 2011 (Qld) provides further guidance on this duty. Specifically, if you provide any accommodation you should satisfy yourself that the accommodation:

  • is lockable, with safe entry and exit;
  • meets all relevant structural and stability requirements;
  • meets electrical and fire safety standards;
  • has a supply of drinking water;
  • has appropriate toilets, washing and laundry facilities;
  • is cleaned regularly and has rubbish collected;
  • is provided with suitable sleeping quarters that are shielded from noise andvibration;
  • has crockery, utensils and dining facilities;
  • has adequate lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation;
  • has storage cupboards and other suitable furniture;
  • is provided with a refrigerator or cool room; and
  • has all fittings, appliances and equipment in good condition.

A copy of the Code is assessable at www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/58206/Work-environment-facilities-COP-2013.pdf.

Obligations to employees and others in respect of the workplace

If work is performed at the accommodation, the accommodation will be considered a workplace for the purposes of the WHS Act.

As a PCBU, you have a duty to ensure the health and safety of:

  • workers while at work in the business (this would include workers who perform work at home); and
  • other persons, from the work carried out by the business or undertaking (see section 19, WHS Act).

Your duty to other persons will include any children or visitors who will foreseeably have access to the workplace.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Obligations and standards for current advice.

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