Unsafe work practices

What is an unsafe work practice?

Here are some examples of what might constitute an unsafe work practice:

  • not securing the guard before turning on a machine
  • leaving large boxes in the way of staff in a corridor, or in front of the fire exit
  • trailing an electrical extension cord across the workspace
  • not wearing a hard hat on a construction site
  • not having fall protection if you are working at heights
  • slippery floors
  • bullying
  • fatigue
  • lack of training.

Unsafe work practices threaten the physical and mental health of staff.

Unsafe work practices are avoidable with good management, training and awareness. You should speak up if you think you could be hurt at work.

The facts* are, more than 15,000 young people aged up to 25 years old in NSW are injured at work each year. While some injuries may only have a short-term impact, others are irreversible and life-changing for young workers, family and friends.

We want all apprentices and trainees should return home to their families and friends injury-free every day.

Your rights

All workers have a right to:

  • be shown how to work safely
  • appropriate safety equipment
  • speak up
  • say no to unsafe work
  • be consulted
  • workers compensation
  • a fair and just workplace
  • fair pay and conditions.

Your obligations

As an employee you have an obligation to:

  • take reasonable care of yourself and others
  • not do anything that would affect the health and safety of others at work
  • follow any reasonable health and safety instructions from your employer.

It is important that you:

  • ask if you are not sure how to safely perform the work
  • follow instructions and work safely
  • report unsafe and unhealthy situations and injuries to your immediate supervisor.

Advise your supervisor immediately if you see a safety problem at work.


  • understand the risks and don’t perform tasks you haven’t done before without training, supervision or instruction
  • talk and build working relationships with more experienced workers
  • ask questions to make sure you understand what is expected of you
  • report WHS concerns promptly, so that immediate action can be taken to resolve the issue
  • know your WHS policies and procedures (remember ask questions if you don’t understand)
  • use the required personal protective equipment.

Employer obligations

Your employer must provide:

  • supervision
  • the work environment, systems of work, machinery and equipment are safe and properly maintained
  • safe premises with adequate workplace facilities (the shop floor, docking area, the building site etc) and facilities (the kitchen, the toilets etc)
  • chemicals are handled and stored safely
  • information, instruction, training in WH&S are provided
  • a workplace free from bullying and harassment.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011:

  • describes the procedures and activities that are needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of all people at the workplace
  • makes it clear that everyone has a role to play, including you as an employee.

NSW Workers Compensation System

The NSW workers compensation system provides support to people injured at work, including assistance with recovering and returning to work wherever possible.

All workers in NSW are covered for work-related injuries and illnesses under state legislation, even if their employer is uninsured.

It's compulsory for most employers in NSW to hold a workers insurance policy. If an employer doesn't hold a valid workers insurance policy, employees can notify a claim through the uninsured liability scheme, which is managed by icare.

Following the lodgement of a claim, a case manager will review it to determine what treatment and/or services are available to the worker. Under workers compensation legislation, a 'worker' has a specific definition that is different to the way we use the term in everyday conversation.

In the event that you are on Workers Compensation for a period of time, please contact your Training Services NSW office to discuss the possibility of suspending your apprenticeship/traineeship to assist you complete your training when you return to work. This will ensure your training contract does not expire while you are off work.

Who can help?

Advise your supervisor immediately if you see a safety problem at work. If you have concerns about safety practices in the workplace you can contact:

*State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) Workers Compensation Data 2011-12, 2013-14, 2015-16.


  • Skills
  • VET


  • VET

Business Unit:

  • Training Services NSW
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