Satellite Phones and Occupational Health and safety requirements in Australia
According to the Occupational and Safety code in Australia, all employers are required by the law to provide effective communication channels to their employees if they work under conditions that do not allow them to have regular mobile telephone conversation.
Satellite phones are the primary means of communication for most employees operating in remote areas, although the law does not necessarily require the use of satellite phones as the only alternative to regular telephone conversations. However, satellite phones offer a reliable and secure option for communication in remote areas where traditional forms of communication may not be readily available.
This code is specifically meant to apply to workers under the OHS Act and this excludes people who are employed by the federal government, who work in farms or ranches or those who are self-employed.
Indeed, self-employed individuals often make it a priority to have efficient communication means as they must communicate with their suppliers to ensure smooth business operations. On the other hand, the law requires employers to provide their employees with a means of communication to prevent them from being isolated and unable to communicate with others for extended periods of time. This is especially important in emergency situations where quick communication can be the difference between life and death.
The law was also implemented to ensure that if an employer has hired security guards to offer protective services to either property or people, they will be well equipped to respond to emergency calls or threats without much of a delay.
This not only makes sense but is now a requirement before any employer hires a security guard. Most employers prefer using a sat phone because it is more reliable in case of an emergency and communication will not be deterred by terrestrial connections that are mainly used for mobile phones.
It is true that communication connections can fail on occasion, which can pose a significant threat to the safety of employees in remote areas. For example, a security guard may not be able to respond to an emergency situation if they are unable to communicate or call for backup due to a communication failure. This is why the occupational health and safety code places a strong emphasis on ensuring that employees have access to reliable means of communication while working in remote areas. This not only safeguards the well-being of employees but also serves as an added security measure for the employer, as it helps to prevent potential incidents that could result in significant financial losses or damage to the company's reputation.
According to the code, employers are required to have the effective communication system especially when an employee is working alone. The law allows the employer to conduct a hazard assessment in order to determine the appropriate communication system. This assessment is only conducted once and it will only change if the work conditions also change.
Therefore, if the assessment shows that using a sat phone is the most appropriate communication channel, then this will remain the same unless a more appropriate system comes up with time. The law also does not state that an employer is obliged to provide satellite phones or any other means of communication to their employees if they make regular call-ins at pre-determined intervals to ensure the safety of their workers.
The call-in intervals will be based on the hazard assessment and will therefore be different for individual work scenarios. This may be at the beginning and end of a shift or every few hours if the work scenario carries more hazards. This law works best in remote work places where there is a higher chance of injury and little means of communication meaning that employees may not be able to call in for help in case of an emergency.