Why is WHS important?
Provision of a safe workplace is important to every person conducting a business undertaking (PCBU – the new term that includes employers) has to consider 3 core issues: moral obligations, cost issues and legal obligations.
The moral obligations include adverse effects on injured workers such as pain and suffering, reduced leisure and social opportunities, lost earnings, reduced self-esteem, effects on family and home life and the morale of other employees.
If a workplace is unsafe the cost associated with this can affect the PCBU, employees and Australia as a whole. Costs to PCBU’s include workers compensation, medical and rehabilitation costs, penalties and fines, damage to machinery and equipment, spoilage, possible recruitment and lost production to name but a few.
What to do
Here are the six successful steps to keeping your workplace safe.
1. Management Commitment
With reference to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, identify who are the ‘officers’ in your organisation and ensure they are aware of their due diligence obligations. An officer is a broad term that applies to people who can make decisions that significantly affect a business or undertaking.
Consultation provides an opportunity to share relevant information and participate in meaningful discussion on work health and safety matters.
Using the knowledge and experience of everyone helps to achieve safer and healthier workplaces as well as better decision making.
3. Management of Risk
The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (WHS Regulation) specifies obligations about the work environment and welfare facilities including:
- managing risks to health and safety
- personal protective equipment
- training and instruction
- workplace facilities
- emergency plans
- first aid
A PCBU has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons at a workplace are not exposed to health and safety risks.
4. Training and Instruction
Suitable and adequate information, training and instruction, which is easily understood and necessary, should be provided to all workers by the PCBU.
Information, training and instruction should relate to the:
- nature of the work carried out by the worker
- nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided
- implemented control measures
This is to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out by the PCBU.
Other specific training requirements include:
- health and safety representatives (if requested)
- working in confined spaces
- construction work
- high risk work
- diving work
The PCBU should ensure training records are kept and that supervision of workers may be required especially when undertaking a new task.
5. Reporting Safety
Health and safety representatives (HSRs) have functions and powers under the work health and safety (WHS) legislation to enable them to fulfil their role.
HSRs play a positive role in representing the health and safety interests of workers in their work group as well as:
- investigate health and safety concerns raised by workers of their work group
- look into anything that might be a risk to the health and safety of the workers in their work group
- monitoring the health and safety actions taken by the persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU – the new term that includes employers)
HSRs assist workers of a work group and the business or undertaking to resolve health and safety matters through ongoing consultation and representation.
6. Return to work and Workers Compensation
As part of your workers compensation and return to work obligations, you must:
- have a current workers compensation insurance policy that covers all your workers
- display the WorkCover Watching out for you poster in your workplace
- notify WorkCover and/or your Scheme Agent of any workplace incidents
- establish a return to work program that is consistent with your Scheme Agent’s injury management program
- make suitable duties available to your injured workers
- keep a record of your wages for the past seven years
- keep a register of workplace-related injuries and illnesses
- forward any workers compensation payments to your injured workers
- not dismiss an injured worker because of their injury within six months of the injury or illness occurring and the injured worker’s incapacity to work
Where to go to for help
Recovre provides customised workplace health, safety and rehabilitation and training solutions. Our highly qualified, experienced and passionate people work collaboratively with customers, developing programs that aid in the prevention of workplace accidents, lead to successful return to work and employment outcomes. They also support a healthier and more productive workforce.
We make a difference by helping people to be safe, healthy & productive at work
Vanessa Garlick WHS Consultant at Recovre
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
- WorkCover NSW
- Advice Sheet 6 Workers Compensation and Return to Work