Managing safety and health issues for migrant workers should be considered within the context of safety and health management for all workers. As an employer you have a general duty to provide and maintain, as far as practical, a working environment where workers are not exposed to hazards. This includes:
- Providing and maintaining safe workplaces, plant and systems of work so they do not expose workers to hazards;
- Providing information, instruction, training and supervision so workers can perform their work safely;
- Consulting and cooperating with safety and health representatives (if any) and other workers regarding occupational safety and health at the workplace.
- Ensuring safe use, cleaning, maintenance, transportation and disposal of substances and plant used in the workplace; and
- Providing personal protective equipment—however, this should be considered only when other control measures are not practical or to increase protection.
Know your workforce and its needs
As an employer, you have an obligation under your duty of care responsibilities to adapt your work practices according to the different needs of your workers. The key to maintaining a safe workplace is matching job-task demands with an individual‟s abilities and skill sets. This can be achieved through various processes, including:
- Identifying workplace hazards and conducting risk assessments, which are appropriate to the cultural needs of the workers;
- Pre-placement discussions;
- Ongoing consultation and communication;
- Liaison with safety and health representatives; and
- Monitoring and reviewing workplace practices.
- Medical observation and/or assessment;
Specific issues for migrant workers
Issues to consider for migrant workers may include:
- Language barriers;
- Cultural or religious differences;
- Literacy difficulties;
- Limited knowledge of local legislation and safety standards; and
- Reluctance to engage with authority figures.
As an employer, therefore you may need to:
- Consider how to convey information about safety to those with a limited knowledge of English;
- Consider accessing English language support for workers;
- Arrange for any necessary support to be provided by others within the workplace; and
- Encourage supervisors to be understanding and approachable.
In Western Australia , the law requires that a high standard of safety must be provided at your workplace, and that you are not injured or harmed because of your work. Making workplaces safer relies upon the employer and employees working together.
Employers have a responsibility to provide, as far as practicable, a safe workplace. This is called a „duty of care‟. You as an employee, also have a duty of care to work safely and not affect the safety and health of others.
The law in Western Australia also requires the employer to consider how to convey information about safety to those with a limited knowledge of English, or those with other specific needs.
Participating in safety matters at the workplace
As an employee, there are different ways you can participate in ensuring safety and health at your workplace. You can do this by:
- Talking directly to your employer, supervisor and co-workers about any concerns you may have;
- Notifying the supervisor or employer of any hazards or injuries, or potential hazards or injuries;
- Participating in training on any procedures with which you are unfamiliar;
- Asking questions about any matters you do not understand;
- Where required, requesting information and training be provided in an appropriate format to suit your needs, for example through the use of an interpreter or translator; and
- Where there are safety and health representatives or a safety and health committee, raising issues with them.
For further information, please contact Farmsafe WA on 9359 4118 or visit www.farmsafewa.org