Occupational Health and Safety Duties to Protect Outworkers: The Failure of Regulatory Intervention and Calls for Reform

Deakin Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 48-87, 2007

39 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2011

See all articles by Paul Harpur

Paul Harpur

University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law

Date Written: April 7, 2011

Abstract

To increase efficiencies, clothing retailers often outsource the manufacturing of products to traders. Traders pass on these time and cost pressures to outworkers who reportedly work in poor and unsafe working conditions. This article analyses whether existing occupational health and safety laws require retailers to take steps to manage outworkers’ labour conditions. First, the article considers how deemed employment laws which require traders to manage outworkers’ workplace safety may be able to be extended up supply chains to impose duties over retailers. Secondly, the article examines how employers’ OHS duties for non-employees may create OHS duties for retailers to ensure outworkers’ safety. It appears that imposing OHS duties across several corporate relationships and across geographical locations may diminish the capacity of retailers to manage outworkers. Thirdly, the article demonstrates how OHS duties only require parties to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure safety. Finally, the article analyses the capacity of retailers to utilise hold harmless clauses to avoid OHS duties

Keywords: OHS duties, outworkers

Suggested Citation

Harpur, Paul David, Occupational Health and Safety Duties to Protect Outworkers: The Failure of Regulatory Intervention and Calls for Reform (April 7, 2011). Deakin Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 48-87, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1804748

Paul David Harpur (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law ( email )

Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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