Best safety options for your workplace
Organizations, no matter their size, simply can’t afford to ignore occupational health and safety (OH&S) risks as an integral part of their business management. When it comes to complying with OH&S legislation, the biggest risk of all for an organization is to do nothing.
Complying with, and managing OH&S is often seen as an increasing burden, one that takes up precious time and money. It is essential for all businesses to remove this task from the ‘too hard basket’ and make it a priority.
Serious accidents may not be commonplace in your workplace, but when they do happen, they can have a devastating effect. You may lose an experienced worker, face legal compliance issues, and spend considerable time conducting internal investigations and experience sharp increases in workers’ compensation premiums.
The following tips can help you create a safer, injury free work place. Not only will you avoid compensation claims and potential fines but also you will benefit from creating a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
1. Understand your responsibilities
In every business there needs to be someone who is responsible for looking after OH&S. This person should research the legal OH&S requirements that apply to the business. Once this is understood it is important to write a health and safety policy to clearly outline the company’s commitment to safety.
Keep the policy simple and make sure it includes the company’s intentions, set objectives, and allocate specific responsibilities to managers, supervisors, and workers in the organisation. Support this policy with an action plan aimed at continually improving health and safety in your workplace. Don’t forget to include the responsibilities involved in engaging contractors.
2. Consult your workers
It is vital to involve workers in any decisions that may affect their health and safety. Often the people carrying out the work are the best people to inform you of the risks involved and the improvements that could be made to achieve a safer workplace.
Under OH&S legislation, employers are required to have appropriate consultation arrangements in place. While state and territory legislation is subject to variation, forums such as committees, elected representatives and designated workgroups are required. These arrangements need to take into account your industry risks, workplace locations and other factors.
3. Identify, assess and control risks
It is essential that organisations understand their health and safety risks by having systems in place to identify hazards and assess and control risks.
A simple way to source safety equipment and services that can help identify hazards in the workplace is via online directories like Ferret.com.au. Starting with the most dangerous risk first, try to eliminate the hazard and if this cannot be done substitute it with something that is safer.
4. Inform, train and supervise
A workplace has no hope of achieving safety success without the cooperation and understanding of employees. Make sure workers are kept informed of all risks, changes and procedures.
You may want to enlist the help of manuals, data sheets, written work instructions (safe work method statements), health and safety notice boards and training videos to ensure complete understanding from all employees. Training courses such as first aid, health and safety representative training and certification courses for particular industries are also a good idea.
5. Manage incidents and injuries
While the reason for implementing an OH&S plan is to avoid accidents from happening in the first place, sometimes accidents do happen. Managing work related incidents and injuries is a legislative requirement and is an important part of minimising loss and disruption in your business.
You need to plan for emergencies before they arise by implementing an emergency procedure for any sort of emergency situation your business may be exposed to, such as fire. Implementing a first aid plan is also high on the list of priorities. When injuries do happen they need to be investigated and reported immediately.
6. Keep records
It is important to document your health and safety activities and keep these records to ensure you are meeting all legal requirements, are providing information to workers and monitoring the health and safety performance of your business.
Records that should be kept include all documents referring to hazard identification, risk assessment and control processes, maintenance of plant and equipment, a register of accidents and injuries, hazardous substances, training records and personnel records. These records need to be kept up to date to be of the greatest benefit.
7. Monitor, review and improve
Managing health and safety is an ongoing process that should form part of the way you do business. After you have established your OH&S management system you need to find out how well it is working by regularly checking and evaluating each step and making appropriate changes to ensure its continual success.
(Written by Dom Weatherhead, Account Manager, Ferret.com.au )