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Ceasing unsafe work

A worker can refuse to carry out work or stop the work they are doing if they have a reasonable concern that carrying out the work would expose them to a serious health and safety risk arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.

What does a worker need to do after ceasing work?

A worker who has ceased carrying out work must:

  • as soon as practicable, notify the PCBU that they have ceased work
  • remain available to carry out suitable alternative work.

What is alternative work?

A PCBU can offer the worker suitable alternative work until they can resume normal duties. The work must be safe and appropriate for the worker and either at the same workplace they normally work at or at another workplace.

When can an HSR direct a worker to cease work?

An HSR can only direct that work cease if the HSR has completed an approved HSR training course, or previously completed that training when acting as an HSR of another work group.

An HSR may direct a worker in a work group to cease work if the HSR has a reasonable concern that to carry out the work would expose the worker to a serious risk, emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.

Before issuing the direction, the HSR must first attempt to resolve the matter by consulting the PCBU unless the risk is so serious and immediate or imminent that there is no time to consult before giving the direction.

The HSR must carry out the consultation as soon as practicable after giving the direction to cease work.

If the risk is not serious, immediate or imminent, the HSR must consult with the PCBU to attempt to resolve the matter. This may involve:

  • following an agreed issue resolution procedure or, if there is no agreed procedure, the default procedure in the WHS Regulations
  • issuing a PIN
  • calling an Inspector.

The HSR must always inform the PCBU of any direction to cease unsafe work given by the HSR to workers.

Can an Inspector assist in the matter?

Yes. The PCBU, the HSR or the worker can ask SafeWork SA to appoint an Inspector to assist in resolving the issue at the workplace.