Protect Your Practice

Work Health and Safety


Work Health and Safety (WHS) – External

As an individual managing a practice, you are also responsible for managing work health and safety risks around your practice. Therefore, you must consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other staff who have a work health or safety duty in relation to the same matter,so far as is reasonably practicable.

Safe Work Australia

According to Safe Work Australia, managing work health and safety risks in the workplace involves four steps (see figure below):

1. Identifying hazard—finding out what could cause harm

2. Assessing risks (if necessary) - understanding the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening.

3. Controlling risks—implementing the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances

4. Reviewing control measures - ensuring control measures are working as planned.

Control measures must be selected to eliminate the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. If elimination is not reasonably practicable, the risks must be minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. This will equally apply to both internal and external environments.Depending on your practice location, patient demographics and services provided, the levels of security will vary.

Principles for all areas

  • Is the area free of all current and potential hazards?
  • If the hazard is identified remove the hazard or make it safe; use appropriate staff or tradespeople as required.
  • Can people exit the immediate area if required due to an emergency?
  • Ensure an emergency plan is in place, exits marked and that staff are aware of the plan.
  • An emergency plan is a written set of instructions that outline what workers and others at the workplace should do in an emergency.
  • As the practice manager, you (or the nominated safety officer) should review all areas of the practice on a regular basis to ensure a safe environment.
  • Is your practice compliant with the relevant legislation: federal, state or local council?


  • There should be appropriate parking available either onsite or in close proximity to the practice. Consider disabled and ambulance designated parking areas.
  • If the car park is onsite this should be well lit at appropriate times.
  • You may need to consider video monitoring of the external aspects of the practice, in-hours, out of hours or both.
  • You (and staff) should check the area regularly to ensure it is kept free of potential hazards – including rubbish or trees.
  • The grounds should be kept clean and in good condition.


  • The practice should have appropriate external signage with name of the practice, contact details, opening hours and after-hours arrangements (and contact phone number).
  • External signage should comply with local council regulations; permits may be required.
  • The building provides an external advertisement for your practice; ensure it is well maintained.
  • Regular preventative maintenance and upkeep should be undertaken.
  • The building should provide appropriate disabled access in accordance with required legislation.
  • If you are a tenant, you should ensure that the landlord maintains the building in a state that represents a professional practice.
  • There should be a security system installed with back-to-base monitoring; some companies provide a service where you set up normal entry/exit hours and if the building is entered outside these hours, the nominated person (normally the practice manager) is contacted.
  • Door keys and codes to security/entry systems are given to appropriate staff; you should maintain a register of keys and ensure staff return any keys upon ceasing employment with the practice.
  • Include external WHS as part of the induction program.
  • Ensure an up-to-date list of contact numbers is maintained and available; this would include details for essential services (power, gas, telephone), security company, electrician, plumber, local council contact, landlord or property agent.

Next page

Data security procedures and policies
  • Systems and data
  • Procedures and policies
  • Practice computer and information security manual

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.