Community support services: Safety basics

Understand and control the health and safety risks in community services work.


Community support services

Community services workers provide welfare and social assistance support. They work in areas like counselling, rehabilitation, or housing support, or services to families, children and youth, or refugees.

Common hazards and risks

  • lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling objects
  • slips, trips and falls
  • transporting people and equipment in vehicles
  • work-related stress
  • occupational violence
  • working alone
  • bullying and harassment

Lifting, supporting and moving

In community services injuries can often come from lifting heavy objects, or a lot of bending, twisting or reaching. Tasks like these may involve hazardous manual handling, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders like sprains and strains to the back and shoulders. See 'hazardous manual handling' for detailed information.

Health and safety in community support services

Our tools and guides can be used to assess and control the specific risks in your workplace.


Involving your employees in health and safety issues can result in a safer workplace. That's why consultation is an important part of risk management. In certain situations employers must consult about health and safety issues with employees and health and safety representatives (HSRs) if they have them. See 'consultation' for detailed information.

Risk management process

  1. Find the hazards in your workplace.
  2. Assess the risks associated with those hazards. You don’t have to do a formal risk assessment if there is already information about the risk and how to control it.
  3. Control the risks.
  4. Monitor and review your risk controls. Revise the controls if they are not working.

Think about all workplaces

Managing risk applies to anywhere your employees are working. That may include in a program or service centre, a client's home, or in vehicles or public places for activities and excursions.

Health and safety legal duties

Under Victorian occupational health and safety law, there are specific duties to ensure health and safety in workplaces. For more information about your duties, see occupational health and safety – your legal duties.


Examples of employer duties:

  • For your employees, you must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. Employees may include contractors and agency staff.
  • Give your employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.
  • Ensure that the conduct of your business does not endanger other people (including volunteers, visitors and clients).
  • Report notifiable incidents to WorkSafe.

Who's an employer?

If you have one or more employees, you are an employer. An employer can be a:

  • person
  • company
  • partnership, unincorporated association, franchising operation, or not-for-profit organisation


Who's an employee?

You are an employee if you have a contract of employment or contract of training. Volunteers are not employees. Independent contractors may be employees.

Examples of employee duties:

  • Take reasonable care for your health and safety in the workplace. You must also take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by what you do or don't do.
  • Cooperate with your employer about any action they take to comply with the OHS Act or Regulations. For example, use equipment properly, follow safe work policies and procedures and attend training.
  • Don't intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything at the workplace to support health, safety and welfare.

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