If you work as a volunteer, then chances are you are good at adapting to different situations fairly quickly.
Most volunteers work across a variety of projects, and are willing to help out where they can. Businesses and organisations who hire these people are undoubtedly grateful for their contributions and do what they can to support them.
Yet how do work health and safety laws apply to volunteers? Legislation is often designed for paid employees, yet those who work for free could also be at risk of workplace injury when on the job.
It’s important that employers do what they can to ensure the safety of everyone who is within their jurisdiction, be they on salary or working pro bono.
To help both employers and volunteers understand their rights and responsibilities, minister for employment and workplace relations Bill Shorten has launched a new workplace health and safety resource kit.
Mr Shorten announced the new tool earlier this week (Wednesday August 1). He said that the new work health and safety laws protect every type of worker.
“The new WHS laws ensure that volunteers have the same level of protection as paid workers,” Mr Shorten explained.
He then went on to outline why the kit was created and how it will be beneficial, stating it will provide a clearer insight into the new legislation.
“The comprehensive resource kit will help remove any confusion by clearly showing volunteers and the organisations covered by the WHS laws how to comply with work health and safety requirements,” Mr Shorten said.
These new laws are nationwide. Additional information and resources can be found on the Safe Work Australia website.
Apparently volunteering Australians make up a significant number of the workforce and contribute to the ongoing success of many organisations and establishments.
“Australian volunteers contribute more than 700 million hours of unpaid work with an estimated unpaid labour cost of almost $15 billion each year,” Mr Shorten added.
If you or a family member is working as a volunteer and sustains catastrophic injury or any other harm at the workplace, then you may want to know that you could be eligible for compensation.
“All workers, whether they are paid or unpaid, deserve to be safe at work,” Mr Shorten asserted.