Nurses and midwives are entitled to a healthy and safe workplace and to compensation and rehabilitation if they are injured at work. The ANMF expects employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees at work and calls on all governments to enact and enforce laws providing for the highest standards of workplace safety.
Nursing and midwifery is the profession with the highest exposure to workplace violence; further, there is a continually high incidence of back injury in nursing, especially in aged care where safe patient handling policies is not compulsory.
In 2011, Safe Work Australia (SWA) developed a single set of WHS laws to be implemented across Australia. These are known as ‘model’ laws. For the model WHS laws to become legally binding, the Commonwealth, states and territories separately implement them as their own laws.
WHS regulators in each state and territory and the Commonwealth are responsible for regulating and enforcing the laws in their jurisdictions. The model WHS laws have been implemented in:
- the Commonwealth;
- the Australian Capital Territory;
- New South Wales;
- Northern Territory;
- South Australia; and
Some jurisdictions have made minor variations to make sure the legislation is consistent with their relevant drafting protocols and other laws and processes. For example, Queensland provides for an industrial manslaughter offence in a Part 2A of its model WHS law.
Victoria and Western Australia have not implemented the model WHS laws.
The ANMF calls for:
1. The Australian Government to fund a national strategy to combat the incidents of violence and aggression toward nurses and other health care workers;
2. Fund a national no lift strategy in health, aged care and community care;
3. Governments to adequately resource their WHS inspectorates and ensure that they actively enforce WHS laws.
- Safe patient handling
- Workers' compensation and rehabilitation for injured and ill nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing
- Bullying in the workplace
- Fatigue prevention
- Prevention of occupational violence and aggression in the workplace
- Smoke-free work environment
- Work health and safety
- Workplace stress prevention
For further information on model laws see: