Source: Safe to Work

by: Margaret Tra

Amidst the media attention about 'planking,' SafeWork SA is reminding employers and employees of their legal obligations relating to workplace safety.

A major South Australian employer has received publicity recently for its decision to dismiss employees seen 'planking' atop areas of high risk plant, while working at height.

According to WorkSafe, it is a matter for the employer as to how it chooses to enforce its workplace safety policies, provided due process is followed.

Under SA's key legislation, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1986, an employer must provide to their employees, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- A safe workplace
- Safe systems of work
- Machinery and plant in a safe condition
- All necessary information, instruction, training and supervision when undertaking work.

Under the same Act, employees must, as far as is reasonably practicable:
- Take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety
- Take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of others while at work
- Follow all reasonable instructions given on health and safety.

If the practice of planking is determined to be in breach of an employer's safe systems of work, then the employer is entitled to take whatever disciplinary action deemed necessary, without any reference to the regulator, provided due process is followed, according to WorkSafe.

WorkSafe warns employers who do not have systems in place to protect the health and safety of their employees and others from even inadvertent actions, could be liable for prosecution should someone be harmed at their workplace.

These may well be the outcomes from an act of 'planking' gone wrong.