Despite a rocky start in 2012, now almost all states and territories in Australia have harmonised and embraced the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation.
For national businesses this has made it an easier process to stay on the right side of the legal requirements, but in reality it is in the best interest of any workplace to have a proactive approach to WHS and to strive to do more than the bare minimum.
Within your business it is vital that you are demonstrating strong leadership in ensuring you have a safe workplace and that each person – whether they are an employee, management or owner – view safety as a key individual (as well as organisational) responsibility.
The first step is to ensure you have a WHS policy in place, which is regularly reviewed and disseminate often to staff. It needs to cover the duties and responsibilities of all parties within the organisation.
When it comes time to review the policy it is vital that effective consultation occurs. This can be in the form of a specific WHS committee or through meetings and recommendations and decisions should then be communicate to everyone, via a variety of methods – such as emails, noticeboards, briefings and newsletters.
It’s also a good idea to have safety ‘champions’ within the workplace, people who embrace WHS and encourage others to do the same. This type of behaviour can be recognised and rewarded, which in turn inspires others to assume the same sort of approach to WHS.
You can also celebrate National Safety Week (which occurs at the end of October). Safe Work Australia states that “every year more than 260 Australians die as a result of work related injuries and over 135 000 are seriously injured”, with Safety Week a great opportunity to remind people about the advantages and importance of a safe and healthy workplace. You could run a competition to encourage ideas for areas of improvement, have a ‘high-vis’ day, undertake a review of the ergonomics of workstations, undertake or review risk assessments – just to name a few ideas!
So have a think about whether your organisation merely adheres to WHS or really embraces it.
If you would like some assistance with your WHS management, please get in touch.