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Managing the Work Environment and Facilities

If you are a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) you must provide and maintain a safe work environment and adequate facilities. You must also manage risks associated with remote and isolated work, and prepare emergency plans.

Facilities

Consult with your workers about what facilities are needed and any changes that may affect the adequacy of facilities.

You should also consult, co-ordinate and co-operate with any other duty holders if they are involved in the same activities or share the same workplace e.g. another business which has an office in the same building as you.

Also consider:

  • the nature of the work activities and types of hazards involved e.g. do your workers need to change out of their clothes?
  • the size, location and nature of the workplace e.g. is the work performed in a building or outdoors?
  • the number and composition of the workforce e.g. do you have any workers with particular needs?

Refer to page 6 of the Code for more information on how to identify what facilities are needed. Appendix A of the Code provides a useful checklist to help you review the work environment and the adequacy of facilities provided to your workers.

Providing and maintaining a safe work environment

Entry and exit

Your workers must be able to safely enter and leave the workplace. This may include making sure that any workers with special needs or disabilities can safely enter and exit.

Refer to page 8 of the Code for specific entry and exit requirements.

Housekeeping

Keeping the workplace clean and tidy can minimise injuries resulting from slips and trips. This includes providing sufficient space for storage.

Work areas

Make sure there is sufficient clear space between furniture, fixtures and fittings so that your workers can move about freely without strain or injury, and can also evacuate quickly in case of an emergency.

Refer to page 9 of the Code for a list of things to consider in working out how much space is needed.

Floors and other surfaces

Floor surfaces should be suitable for the work area. The type of floor surfaces or coverings (e.g. carpet) you should use will depend on the type of work carried out as well as materials used during the work process.

Floors should be inspected regularly and maintained to eliminate slip and trip hazards. Common examples of hazards include trailing cables, uneven edges or broken surfaces, gratings or covers, loose mats or carpet tiles.

Workstations

Workstations should be designed so that your workers can carry out their work in a comfortable, upright position. It is best to provide adjustable workstations to make the work height suitable for the person and the task. Seating should provide good body and foot support (especially for the lower back) and allow adequate space for leg clearance and freedom of movement.

Lighting

You should provide sufficient lighting (natural or artificial) to allow safe movement around the workplace and for your workers to perform their work without having to strain their eyes.

Refer to the Table on page 12 of the Code for guidance on the recommended light level for various types of tasks, activities or interiors.

You must also provide emergency lighting for the safe evacuation of people in the event of an emergency.

Air quality

You should make sure your workplace is adequately ventilated with fresh, clean air. Workplaces may have natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation (fans or extraction units) or air-conditioning. Natural ventilation should consist of permanent openings, including windows and doors, and may be assisted by mechanical ventilation.

Air-conditioning and other ventilation systems should be regularly serviced and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer?s instructions.

Work processes that release harmful substances should have specific controls to extract these at the source e.g. local exhaust ventilation.

Heat and cold

Your workers must be able to carry out work in extreme heat or cold without a risk to their health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. You can maintain a comfortable temperature for your workers with the use of air-conditioning, fans, electric heating and open windows, and by controlling air flow and the source of drafts.

Refer to pages 14-15 of the Code for a list of measures to minimise exposure to extreme heat or cold.

Welfare facilities

You must provide your workers with access to adequate welfare facilities, including:

  • clean drinking water
  • clean toilets
  • hand washing facilities.

Based on the location of your workplace, the size and composition of your workforce and the type of work you are doing, you may also need to provide:

  • hygienic dining facilities
  • accessible and secure personal storage
  • showering facilities.

Refer to pages 19-21 of the Code for guidance on when you will need to provide dining, storage and showering facilities. For temporary, mobile or remote workplaces, the types of facilities required may be different from those normally provided for a fixed workplace.

Refer to Appendix B of the Code for examples of facilities needed for different types of workplaces (temporary and permanent).

Remote or isolated work

Isolated work means work that is isolated from the assistance of other people - including rescue, medical assistance and emergency services - because of the location, time or nature of the work being done.

You must identify and manage the risks associated with any remote or isolated work. Risk means anything that may cause harm to workers or other people at your workplace.

This will involve you:

  • identifying any problems (known as hazard identification) - exposure to violence and poor access to emergency assistance are the main hazards that increase the risk of remote or isolated work
  • making an assessment of the risks (determining how serious the problems is)
  • finding ways to control the risks (deciding what needs to be done about the problem).

Refer to pages 23-24 of the Code for more information on how to do this.

Emergency plans

You must prepare an emergency plan for your workplace that includes:

  • emergency procedures
  • testing of the emergency procedures
  • information, training and instructions to relevant workers in relation to carrying out the emergency procedures.

Refer to pages 26-27 of the Code for more information about what your emergency plan and procedures should include.