The trend for people requiring care, basic maintenance, support or assistance in their own homes instead of in residential settings continues to increase at a rapid rate. As the number of people ageing or with a disability increases, there is a greater demand for services that allow them to stay in their own homes within the community. The range of providers, including carers, nurses, cleaners, housekeepers, property maintenance personnel and pharmacy services, highlights an increased need for guidance in managing occupational health, safety and welfare (OHSW) challenges that arise when providing a service within homes or community settings.

Challenges include not only the many and varied OHSW and other hazards faced by workers, but also the corresponding OHSW responsibilities of employers, workers, contractors and clients. Sometimes these responsibilities may seem difficult to clearly define. For example, how do managers weigh up their duty of care to clients versus staff? Or, when services are contracted or brokered, who is responsible for ensuring a safe working environment?

These Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Guidelines for Community Workers are intended to help you as an employer, manager or coordinator to address these dilemmas and manage hazards that you and your workers may face. The Welfare Guidelines for Community Workers Guidelines provide case studies illustrating solutions that have proven successful elsewhere, and include tools such as checklists and forms that you can adapt to your own workplace.

Section 3, OHSW Management Systems, provides a guide for setting up and reviewing systems that will ensure effective management and good information and communication about OHSW. All of the information provided is for guidance only and should be adapted to suit your own organisation’s needs and situations.

The ultimate aim of the Welfare Guidelines for Community Workers is to prevent injury or illness to people working in the community. The costs of injury are high, not only the personal suffering and loss, but also the disruption to the client and the organisation.