Protect Your Practice

Work Health and Safety



A legal duty of care

Practice managers need to be aware that under Work Health and Safety legislation in each state, the practice as the employer holds a legal duty of care to provide a safe working place to its employees. Part of this duty of care concerns the use and management of chemicals held on site.

Chemicals in healthcare can range from mild neutral cleaning detergents through to gluteraldehyde (e.g. Ladel). You need to ensure that all chemicals are stored and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. All necessary details for all chemicals can be found on the specific material safety data sheets (MSDS) which come from the chemical supplier and/or manufacturer, and which should be held in a readily accessible location for all staff.

Chemical waste is one category of healthcare waste and this means waste that contains chemical substances e.g. film developer, solvents, disinfectants that are expired or no longer in use.

Improve your practice

  • All chemicals and their use should be reviewed. Are they really necessary? Heavy duty cleaning products may be able to be replaced with milder, neutral detergents or cleaning agents.
  • All chemicals kept on site have material safety data sheets.
  • All chemicals held on site are stored and used in accordance with the instructions on the material safety data sheets.
  • Ensure cleaners are aware of the potential hazards associated with any of the chemicals used.
  • Ensure cleaners are aware of the location of the material safety data sheets and procedure to be followed should an accident/adverse event occur.

Next page

Work Health and Safety (WHS) – Internal
  • Safe Work Australia
  • Principles for all areas
  • Waiting room
  • Reception area
  • Consultation rooms
  • Treatment rooms
  • Staff room
  • Toilets
  • Common areas (accessible to the general public)

This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.