Safety and Common Law
Common law is not applicable in all states in Australia but in states where it is, educating supervisors and managers in it can bring additional benefit to your safety management system.
The Compliance with Common Law (in states where applicable)
There are four basic duties under common law :
A) To provide and maintain competent staff.
B) To provide and maintain a safe place of work.
C) To provide and maintain safe plant and appliances.
D) To provide and maintain a safe system of work * ( a system means generally the way things are done)
The above duties contain few words but the meaning is quite significant. The employer really has to do everything reasonably and practically that he can do. Many would suggest he then has to go a few extra steps. Managers and supervisors really need to be trained in common law duties to fully realise the impact of this important area on how they manage safety.
A way I found successful to train supervisors and managers was for me to talk about common law from the safety perspective for about 30 minutes and then have the company solicitor to talk from the legal perspective for about the same period of time (You have to be careful the solicitor does not get too technical) We then had a mock court with half the participants presenting the case for a seriously injured employee and half the participants defending the employer. The solicitor was the judge and the employer usually loses