The purpose of the NSW Work Health & Safety Act is “to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers at work and of other people who might be affected by the work”.
Clubs need to consider the issue of how and to what extent Work Health & Safety (WHS) laws affect the operation of their lodges.
The answer is not a simple one or universal.
In an effort to summarise some key principles and promote consideration of the issues by Clubs individually, SLOPES issued an email on this topic dated 29 December 2014 which can be found here: Workplace Health and Safety Laws.
In addition to these WHS issues Clubs should note these general comments:
“Why should safety be made a priority?
Even if the Clubs are found not to be PCBUs and their volunteer officers cannot be prosecuted under the current WHS laws, each of them still face potential exposure to public liability claims. These claims will generally be covered by an insurer, but in our experience insurers may seek to decline cover if an exception is available, for example, intentional conduct or reckless indifference. Apart from these liability issues, there also remain reputational issues for the Clubs which may result from any adverse publicity caused by a serious safety incident. This would include publicity associated with any coronial inquest or other media coverage. As such, a systematic approach to safety management in compliance with the WHS laws should be adopted by the Clubs in order to avoid such risks and to ensure the continued safe use of their lodges and facilities.”