Workplace exposure to passive smoke is a significant work health and safety hazard. Exposure can produce symptoms of ill health, particularly for people with pre-existing medical conditions (e.g. respiratory or cardiovascular).
There is no recognised safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.
The Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces (e.g. offices, shops, factories, work vehicles), enclosed public places such as in pubs, clubs, bingo venues and the Adelaide Casino, and enclosed shared areas.
Restrictions also apply to smoking in:
- motor vehicles if a child is also present
- certain prescribed public transport areas
- certain public areas e.g. Royal Adelaide Show, Moseley Square at Glenelg.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) requires a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others in the workplace. A step-by-step approach should be taken to identifying the hazards, assessing the risks and taking action to eliminate or control them.
Workers must be protected from the harmful health effects of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. The following control measures are key to successfully achieving a smoke-free work environment.
Senior management must demonstrate commitment and support to the development of a smoke-free workplace policy.
There must be consultation between PCBUs, workers and health and safety representatives during the development and implementation of the policy.
Following consultation, a written non-smoking policy should be developed and communicated. The policy should ban smoking from the workplace and include all indoor areas, vehicles and areas where smoke could drift into workplaces.
Designated outdoor areas where smoking is permitted should be established wherever possible. These areas should have adequate natural ventilation and must be placed where there is no risk of smoke drifting into smoke-free areas.
Management, workers, customers and visitors should be made aware of the new policy, and signage used so that people know the areas where they cannot smoke (e.g. toilets, foyers, stairwells and staff rooms).
Workers who smoke should not be stigmatised. However, encouragement to quit smoking can be offered by:
- placing health and 'Quit' information in strategic locations, such as staff rooms
- ensuring cigarettes are not sold at the workplace
- inviting 'Quit' program providers to the workplace to talk with workers
- offering incentives to participate in 'Quit' programs, such as subsidising nicotine replacement therapy e.g. patches, gum
- referrals to the Quitline for individual help.
Workplaces that promote and support workers to quit smoking can benefit from a healthy and happy workforce, and a safe, clean workplace for everyone.
Further information and support
Support for and acceptance of smoke-free workplaces is increasing every day, even by smokers. A wide range of information and support is available to help achieve healthier work environments.
A smoke-free workplace guide has been developed by SA Health to help workplaces meet their legal requirements and support the development of smoke-free workplace policies.
Healthy Workers - Healthy Futures is a Commonwealth funded initiative developed to help PCBUs make their workplaces healthier, and includes a 'smoke free' component as part of a toolkit.
Quit SA delivers key areas of South Australia's Strategic Plan for tobacco control, and can provide workplaces with:
For free help and resources call the Quitline on 137 848 (24 hrs statewide) or visit www.quitsa.org.au