Your questions answered: Are we obligated to have running water at work?

By Portner Press on June 27th, 2019
  1. Work Health & Safety Act
  2. Workplace health & safety regulations

Q
Are there any regulations about whether a business should open or close if the water is disconnected for a day? We are a counselling business in Victoria with visiting clients. We know the date of the water supply disruption.

 

A
Under section 21(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (Act), an employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees of the employer a working environment that is safe and without risks to health. Section 21(2) provides that an employer contravenes this obligation if the employer fails to provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at any workplace under the management and control of the employer.

While there is no express obligation in the Victorian legislation for the workplace to be closed if the water is disconnected, there would be a number of factors that need to be taken into account in order for an employer to comply with their obligations under section 21 of the Act.

An employer must therefore seek to provide and maintain adequate and accessible facilities for the welfare of employees at a workplace, which may include persons in the workplace having access to drinking water and functioning toilets.

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