Workplace safety 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. Workplace safety 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.
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) contains many provisions which relate to Workplace safety including minimum work hours, 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 a Workplace Safety Lawyer?
Workplace safety lawyers assist individuals and businesses with issues that affect the safety of workers and visitors in a workplace. Lawyers in this field provide advice on work, health and safety risks, and ensure your workplace is legally compliant with occupational health and safety laws. If you are a business owner, developer, manager, consultant or working in the private or public sector it is recommended that you consult with a workplace safety lawyer if you require the following services:
- Professional advice on work, health and safety risks and compliance
- Representation in court proceedings and disputes (for example, prosecutions and investigations)
- Development of workplace safety protocols, procedures and policies
- Risk assessment and management of workplace hazards
- Incident response
- Governance and due diligence processes
- Information about statutory obligations under Commonwealth and State legislation.
Why do I need a Workplace Safety Lawyer?
Workplace safety lawyers should be the first point of contact for every individual and business. These lawyers are skilled in anticipating and mitigating issues that may arise in any workplace environment. Occupational health and safety laws are complex and not straightforward. These lawyers have the expertise to interpret and apply the relevant laws to your situation. Workplace safety lawyers will inform you of your legal obligations about incident response and crisis management. Expert workplace safety lawyers will ensure your business is protected and help with making your workplace a risk free environment.
What will a Workplace Safety Lawyer provide?
Workplace safety lawyers will instruct and guide business owners throughout the life of their business while keeping their best interests in mind. You can rely on workplace safety lawyers who excel at providing practical solutions that will help you identify risks, assess risks and prevent risks. Being an employer carries with it the responsibility of ensuring that you provide a safe workplace. A Workplace Safety Lawyer can help ensure that you do this.
How much will a Workplace Safety Lawyer charge?
Usually, workplace safety 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. However, some law firms offer a ‘no win no fee’ arrangement.
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Hourly rates and Court fees
The cost of a Workplace 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 Workplace 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.