Working with other businesses
Working with other businesses
When there are multiple businesses at the same location, each business must do what they can, within their influence and control, to keep workers safe. In these situations, the most effective way to manage workplace health and safety is by working together.
Because businesses have duties to all workers and others affected by their work - not just those they directly employ or engage - they may well have overlapping duties. Ensuring that businesses work together for the health and safety of everyone in the workplace is a fundamental part of HSWA’s design.
In general terms, when we talk about businesses working together, we mean that all businesses must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate, and coordinate their activities with other businesses particularly when there are overlapping duties in relation to workplace health and safety. Overlapping duties mean that more than one business has health and safety duties in relation to the same matter.
Consultation between businesses can help you all reach a common understanding and establish clear roles, responsibilities and actions in relation to work health and safety.
By working together you can avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, for example when providing welfare or first aid facilities. Working together can also help identify and prevent gaps when managing health and safety risks for workers.
Gaps can happen particularly when:
The broader benefits of consultation include:
More than one business can have a duty in relation to the same matter (overlapping duties). This can occur when there are multiple businesses at the same location, for example:
Businesses with overlapping duties must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with other businesses so that you can all meet your joint responsibilities. Businesses do not need to duplicate each other’s efforts.
Your business cannot contract out of its duties, however you can enter reasonable relationships with other businesses to meet your duties. Note that your business still retains the responsibility to meet its own duties.
Businesses should also monitor each other to ensure everyone is doing what they agreed.
The extent of your duty to manage risk depends on the ability of your business to influence and control the matter. Where there are overlapping duties, the extent of each business’s responsibility to carry out their duties will most likely be different. This will depend on what ability your business has to influence and control the health and safety matter (ie the more influence and control your business has over a health and safety matter, the more responsibility you are likely to have).
For example, a business can have influence and control over health and safety matters through:
A business with a higher level of influence and control (and with the greatest share of the responsibilities) will usually be in the best position to manage the associated risks.
A business with less control or influence may fulfil their responsibilities by making arrangements with the business with the higher level of influence and control.