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Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and also known as Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) relates to the safety and wellbeing of employees in the workplace. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe and not hazardous to their employees. Workplace injury and disease is common amongst the Australian workforce. OH&S also entails issues regarding workers compensation and the liability of employers when employees are harmed on the job.
Employers have a responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe place to work, assess risks and mitigate them, and have insurance and worker’s compensation insurance amongst other things. Employees are obliged to work in a safe manner and follow all the WHS guidelines provided by their employer.

Legislation

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) contains many provisions which relate to OHS including minimum work hours, safety during industrial action, dismissal and bullying at work. Laws relating to workplace environments are found in state legislation as follows:

  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (Tas)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA)
  • Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 (NT)

What is an Occupational Health and Safety Lawyer?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) lawyers assist individuals and businesses in the public and private sector by ensuring their compliance with workplace health and safety laws. OHS lawyers will provide quality advice on what changes need to be made to create a safe work environment. These lawyers will inform you of any risks that have a detrimental impact on the health and safety of those in your workplace.

OHS lawyers will assess your business’ policies, and keep you accountable to your legal obligations. Some examples of what services OHS lawyers provide are:

  • Compliance with workplace safety standards to minimise injury and illness
  • Assessment of risks and identification of measures to prevent them
  • Determining whether your working environment and facilities meets legal requirements and codes
  • Assisting with applications for insurance and workers’ compensation insurance

Why do I need an Occupational Health and Safety Lawyer?

OHS lawyers should always be the first point of contact for every business owner. As workplace health and safety laws constantly change and heavily regulated, it is prudent to consult with OHS lawyers. OHS lawyers are trained professionals who have the expertise to interpret and apply the law to your situation. OHS lawyers can anticipate and mitigate issues that arise in any workplace environment. These lawyers will take action accordingly, and are highly experienced at handling any proceedings that arise from a claim made against you. Expert OHS lawyers want your business to succeed in the long run, which is why they are committed to protecting your business.

What will an Occupational Health and Safety Lawyer provide?

OHS lawyers will instruct and guide business owners throughout the life of their business while keeping their best interests in mind. You can confidently trust and rely on OHS lawyers who excel at providing practical solutions that will help you identify, assess and prevent risks. OHS lawyers will also inform you of your legal obligations in relation to incident response and crisis management.

How much will a Occupational Health and Safety Lawyer charge?

Usually, OHS lawyers, and lawyers in general, charge either a fixed amount or an hourly rate. Also, fees are calculated based on the solicitor’s expertise, seniority, location and whether the work is urgent.

Our aim at LawPath is to provide you with legal options that are fast, affordable and tailored to your needs. We’ll connect you with an experienced OHS lawyer that is best suited to your individual needs. This allows you to choose the solution which is best tailored to your situation.

Hourly rates and Court fees

The cost of a Occupational Health and Safety Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the relevant Court or Tribunal, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time. These types of matters may also involve obtaining documents and negotiating with the other party.

What can a Occupational Health and Safety Lawyer legally charge?

Legal costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis with a time period within which you are required to make payment. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014. Lawyers who do not comply with these rules can face disciplinary action from the law society of their State.

Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.

What if I don’t agree with the costs?

You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged.

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