Know Your Rights: Work health and safety in hospitals





Work health and safety in hospitals


Ensuring and promoting the safety of our members at work is at the forefront of the work ASMOF does.

ASMOF’s focus is on promoting safe work environments and work practices. In the unfortunate event that a member is injured at work ASMOF will advocate for our members to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.

What health and safety risks are doctors exposed to?

Hospital environments expose doctors to many risks associated with their work:

  • violence and abuse from patients;
  • exposure to chemicals and waste products during health care delivery;
  • unsafe working hours leading to burnout and stress;
  • shift work;
  • injuries in the workplace from falls and incidents; and
  • psychological injuries resulting from bullying in the workplace or stress.

 When doctors experience a workplace injury it can have a significant impact on their life, earning capacity, their relationships and their career. Our experienced industrial officers guide members through the process and ensure they are treated fairly and appropriately.


Your rights under the Work Health Safety Act

In NSW, health and safety is governed by the Work Health Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (‘WHS Act’). In public hospitals, various Policy Directives and guidelines also apply.

Below, we outline some of your key rights under the legislation.

  1. The right to a safe working environment

You are entitled to work in an environment, at all times, that does not threaten health and safety.

Section 84 of the WHS Act supports your right to cease, or refuse to carry out, work if you have reasonable concern that the work or the workplace exposes you to a serious and imminent WHS risk.

If the need arises to cease work, you must notify your manager and remain available to be allocated to other suitable work.

  1. The right to be consulted

Consultation is central to health and safety legislation.

Section 47 of the WHS Act requires that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the employer must consult with workers who are, or are likely to be, directly affected by a health and safety matter.

Consultation must occur in the following situations:

  • Identifying hazards;
  • Assessing risks;
  • Making decisions about eliminating risks;
  • Proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of workers such as changes to premises, staffing and rostering.
  1. Risk control

Section 17 of the WHS Act 2011 requires risks to be eliminated. However, if it is not reasonably practicable, then the risks must be minimised.

Reasonably practicable means doing what is effective and possible to ensure the health and safety of workers, taking into account:

  • the seriousness of the risk
  • what is known about the hazard and risk and the ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, and
  • the availability and suitability of measures to eliminate or minimise the risk.
  • The cost can only be considered after all of the above have been taken into account to determine what is reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk.
  1. Protection from discrimination

Section 104 of the WHS Act prohibits discriminatory conduct where a worker has exercised any right or duty, or refrained from exercising any power or function within the scope of this legislation, such as:

  • raising any concern about WHS
  • assisting in the resolution of any WHS issue
  • nominating for, or being elected as a health and safety representative (HSR), or
  • exercising any power or performing any function as a HSR

If you would like to know any more about work health and safety or have a workplace issue, contact ASMOF.


NSW HEALTH Policy Directive: Work Health and Safety – Better Practice Procedures PD2013_50

WHS Act -


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