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School operations

Volunteer OHS Management

Policy

This policy outlines the Occupational Health and Safety requirements in schools for managing volunteers.

Summary

  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic) requires the Department to provide and a working environment that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, is safe and without risk to health, including for school volunteers.
  • The principal and/or their delegate (as the local management representative must manage OHS risks associated with the tasks carried out by volunteers engaged at the school and ensure that volunteers are provided with relevant OHS induction, training, information and supervision.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, volunteers while at a school must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and local regional officers who can provide free advice about managing volunteers.
  • The Volunteer OHS Management Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This Policy forms part of the Department’s OHS Management System, refer to OHS Management System (OHSMS) — Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing page for further information.

Details

Prior to work commencing the principal and/or their delegate — for example, facilities manager, must ensure that all volunteers:

When assigning work tasks to volunteers, the principal and/or their delegate must:

  • determine the types of works and the associated hazards, implement controls and assess the level of risk associated with the task using the Risk Assessment Template (Word) or equivalent
  • ensure that they maintain general supervisory power over work undertaken by volunteers. This may be by performing regular check-ins with the volunteers or setting expectations
  • ensure all hazards, incidents and injuries are reported on (via staff entering the incident report on behalf of the volunteer and managed as per the Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including emergencies) Policy

When the tasks given to volunteers include high risk work, the principal and/or their delegate must follow the Contractor OHS Management Policy, including completing a Safe Work Procedure.

If volunteers are working with any restricted plant or equipment — such as, powered saws, grinders, etc, the principal and/or their delegate must ensure the volunteers have been trained or have equivalent industry experience in the use of the item of restricted plant or equipment — see section 2.1 of the Procedure.

The principal and/or their delegate must also ensure that any electrical equipment brought onto site by volunteers (including the school premises or camps and excursions etc. has been tested and tagged prior to use, as per the Testing and Tagging of Electrical Equipment Policy.

Definitions

Dangerous Goods
Substances (including mixtures and solutions) that may present an immediate safety hazard such as fire, explosion or toxic cloud emission. Dangerous goods are designated into nine different classes under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG7 Code) according to their immediate physical or chemical effect. Some of these classes are further subdivided into divisions. They are easily recognisable by the diamond shaped sign displayed on the substance label.

eduSafe Plus
The Department’s online hazard and incident reporting and management application, accessible on the intranet. Employees log on to edusafe  Plus using their employee number and password accessible

Note: Volunteers do not have access to eduSafe Plus, however, can report issues to school staff for entry into eduSafe Plus (e.g. via a paper-based form).

Hazardous Chemicals
Chemicals that have the potential to cause harm to human health, both in the immediate and long-term.

A chemical is classified as hazardous if it:

  • is listed on the Hazardous Chemical Information System (HCIS) and the concentration of the chemical or its ingredients equals or exceeds the concentration cut-off levels listed on the HCIS that relate to health effects or
  • meets the criteria for a hazardous chemicals set out in the Approved Criteria for Classifying Hazardous Substances or
  • meets the criteria for the hazard classification set out in Part 3 Health Hazards of the globally Harmonised System GHS

High Risk Work
Based on the level of risk the following is mandated as high risk work by the Department:

  • confined space entry
  • demolition works
  • hazardous manual handling
  • hot works (e.g. welding)
  • removal or disturbance of asbestos
  • temporary supports for structural alterations
  • tilt-up or precast concrete
  • trenches or shafts deeper than one and half metres
  • use of explosives
  • use of Hazardous Chemicals and Dangerous Goods
  • using powered mobile plant (e.g. forklift)
  • working at height (two metres or more)
  • work in tunnels
  • work that is in, on or near:
    • artificial temperature extremes (e.g. work in an operating cool room or freezer)
    • chemical, fuel or refrigerant lines
    • contaminated or flammable atmospheres
    • electrical installations or services
    • pressurised gas distribution mains or piping
    • roads
    • telecommunications towers
    • water/liquids that pose a drowning risk

Volunteer
A volunteer is a person who voluntarily engages in school work or approved community work, without payment or reward. School work means:

  • carrying out the functions of a school council
  • any activity carried out for the welfare of a school, by the school council, any parents’ club or association or any other body organised to promote the welfare of the school
  • any activity carried out for the welfare of the school at the request of the principal or school council
  • providing any assistance in the work of any school or kindergarten
  • attending meetings in relation to government schools convened by any organisation which receives government financial support

Relevant legislation

Department policy on health and safety requirements in schools for managing volunteers

Reviewed 31 May 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

OHS Advisory Service

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