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Case Summary

Where does a labour hire company’s safety obligations end, and a host employer’s start?

Victorian WorkCover Authority v Recruitment Select Pty Ltd

Does a labour-hire company’s safety obligations end once their worker is assigned to a host employer who has control of the site? The simple answer is no. There is an ongoing responsibility for labour-hire companies to monitor the health and safety of their employees.

Nina Hoang
Published:

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In Victorian WorkCover Authority v Recruitment Select Pty Ltd, a labour-hire company was fined $50,000 for failing to undertake proper due diligence.

The worker had been relocated to another role by the host employer. The labour-hire company had no knowledge of this and no knowledge of the risks of the new role. The worker was dragged into, and rotated around, the shaft of the conveyor belt before being fatally pinned against its shaft. The labour-hire company failed in their duties as it did not provide a safe workplace.

A labour-hire company must always be across role changes and have the capacity to say no if it is unsafe for employees. A small level of oversight would have prevented a costly fine.

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Lessons for Employers

  • Ensuring a safe workplace is an ongoing responsibility – you cannot assume that obligations are satisfied only at the start of an engagement.
  • You cannot implement adequate controls if you don’t do the due diligence to identify what the risks are. Employers must be aware of the movements of employees at all times
  • Ensure that proper consultation is undertaken with employees when there are any major changes to their employment – both under safety and employment law
  • Labour hire providers must ensure their contracts with hosts place obligations on the host to:
    • limit the use of the employee to the agreed role;
    • advise of changes in environment or safety; and
    • indemnify the Labour Hire provider in the event of a breach.

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Principal Lawyer and Head of Workplace

Managing Principal - Victoria