Everyone has a duty of care and responsibility to make sure they are safe in their workplace. In other words, individuals should always act in the best interest of themselves and others. For example, in the workplace, the employer’s responsibility for the health and safety of everyone is the ‘Primary Duty of Care’.

This article will explore Duty of Care, and provide you with practical ways in which Duty of Care can be exercised in the workplace. 

Managers in the workplace have a duty of care. For instance, they should take reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of all employees. They are also responsible for the customers and site visitors. In fact, it can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing their commitment, to employees. It improves staff retention, by boosting productivity because it can pave the way for greater employee engagement.

Exercising Duty of Care

We are all required to exercise ‘reasonably practicable’ care. Therefore, a duty holder must meet the standard of behaviour expected. As well as being required to comply with the duty themselves.

It takes into account what the duty holder ought to reasonably know what is reasonably foreseeable. In other words, we all have a duty of care to keep other people safe and protect them from harm. This isn’t just a moral obligation, it is also a legal obligation.

Workplace Legislation

Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers is a legal duty. In addition, employers should show the same amount of care as they would for their families. Legally, employers must abide by relevant health and safety and employment law, and the common law duty of care. For example, they have a moral and ethical duty not to cause, or fail to prevent physical or psychological injury. Duty of Care also includes responsibilities regarding personal injury and negligence claims.

All employees and site visitors have an additional legal responsibility to keep themselves and their co-workers safe from harm. To find out more, read our blog on Understanding Workplace Health and Safety.

There are many requirements under an employer’s duty of care.

They are wide-ranging, such as:

  • Clearly defining employee roles, tasks, and assignments
  • Ensuring a safe working environment
  • Providing adequate training and feedback on performance
  • Ensuring that staff do not work excessive hours
  • Providing areas for rest and relaxation
  • Protecting staff from bullying or harassment
  • Banishing staff discrimination

Understanding the Guidelines

These guidelines are as important as each other, and it’s expected that employers carry out these guidelines on a regular basis. An open communication platform for employees can perform tasks, such as:

  • List Provide communication channels for employees to raise concerns
  • Carry out reviews for employees on issues that concern them
  • Take measures to avoid pollution to the environment
  • Comply with all laws and regulations.

Building Policies and Procedures

Having policies and procedures documented for Duty of Care in the workplace is an important step. It reinforces and clarifies the expectations which each organisation has of its employees. An effective policy should include content, such as:

  • Referenced legislation
  • The purpose of the Duty of Care policy
  • Who the policy applies to
  • Objectives of the business’s Duty of Care and WH&S
  • Policy Implementation
  • Workplace culture details
  • Repercussions of breach of policy

You will need to consider the guidelines that have been set up by your organisation. Wherever possible, balance these against your own instinctive reactions.

Taking the necessary steps in your business to ensure all individuals receive the relevant training and information on Duty of Care in the workplace because it can promote best practices, minimise risk, and create a sustainably safe work environment.

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