Workplace health and safety – what you should know
What does health and safety in the workplace mean?
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), otherwise known as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) demands the evaluation, mitigation and control of risks that may impact the health, safety or welfare of those associated with your workplace. A form of monitoring and ensuring WHS is through the implementation of Health and safety procedures in the workplace. For this, training is crucial and effective. The correct training and adherence to such procedures can reduce employee illnesses and injuries greatly. Likewise, it can educate your employees on the appropriate workplace procedures, practices and behaviour in order to prevent possible injuries, misuse of equipment or illness from inadequate hygiene.
Whose responsibility is workplace health and safety?
Ensuring workplace health and safety is very important. It is a responsibility belonging to both the employer and the employee.
It is an employer’s responsibility to preserve the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone who might be affected by their business. This can be achieved through ensuring a safe and secure environment and making appropriate training and information readily available. Employers must do as much as possible, within reason, to achieve a safe environment and a well prepared and informed staff.
This means making sure that workers and others are protected from anything which may cause them harm by promptly and effectively monitoring any possible risks to injury or health which may be present in the workplace.
Employers are held responsible under health and safety laws to assess and monitor risks in the workplace and how they may affect workers. Risk assessments should be frequently carried out in any areas which contain possible risks.
Employers must also provide information about the risks in any given workplace and how to remain safe and protected. Meaning, they must also instruct and train workers on how to deal with the risks and are required to consult with workers on WHS issues, keeping them updated. Should the employer fail to adhere to their duties regarding workplace health and safety this could lead to legal ramifications for the employer and the business. They may be held accountable for being negligent and providing an unsafe environment for workers.
Employees, on the other hand, are required to comply with safety requirements at work and take all reasonable precautions to keep safe.
An employee’s responsibility to WHS includes paying attention to training and induction processes so they can be aware of the proper procedures to carry out in the workplace.
And it includes correctly and responsibly carrying out said procedures whilst listening to, understanding and obeying directions administered by employees. As well as behaving in an appropriate manner under the given workplace conditions.
Should employees fail to meet their responsibilities and find that they or a co-worker have become injured, despite the employer’s best efforts. It may occur that the employee is held legally responsible to facel ramifications.
Dealing with hazards & risks to ensure workplace health and safety:
To achieve a safe work environment hazards and risks must be efficiently found and dealt with. A systematic approach set out by WorkSafe Victoria highlights four steps:
Consult: Consulting any staff, workers and employees on any possible health and safety risks, employers must consult with employees when identifying and assessing hazards or risks, and should enquire when making decisions about how to deal with risks.
Find: In cooperation with your employees, analyse every task in your workplace to discover potential hazards. It’s a good idea to write everything down. It’s a good idea to research a history of hazards within your industry so you know what to avoid. Discussing risks and hazards with other people in your industry and sharing experiences can also prove beneficial. Try going through the business’ past injury records as they may highlight if any problem areas exist or if any patterns are emerging.
Fix: Once the hazards in your workplace have been identified and where necessary assessed the risks, the problems need to be fixed immediately and as thoroughly as possible.
Review: Controlling workplace health and safety hazards and risks is a continuous process that needs to take into account changes in the workplace. For this reason procedures and risk controls should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are working well and are still relevant.
Supervision in the workplace may prove essential in order to maintain workplace health and safety. Supervisors can oversee workers and procedures to ensure everything is running smoothly. In order to effectively supervise workplace health and safety, the supervisor needs to be competent and well trained. They must know how to manage all types of workers from contractors to workers with specialist knowledge. It is beneficial to have many trained supervisors in one workplace so they can share safety supervision and cover all grounds.
Workers undertaking supervising roles should:
- Be familiar with workers skill set, qualifications and abilities
- Know the company’s procedures as well as any applicable OH&S laws
- Be competent in giving directions and in adopting an authoritative position
Appropriate induction process:
The proper training and induction process can make all the difference to workplace health and safety. Ensuring that employees are well trained in the workplace procedures as well as it’s OH&S practices can greatly decrease the possibility of injuries and accidents, specially when operating machinery. It is equally important to provide an initial induction upon hiring new workers, so they can familiarise themselves with the new workplace, as it is to provide follow up inductions to all current workers if any changes in procedure occur, or new equipment is to be used. These inductions can be easily administered, monitored and completed through the form of online inductions. Enquire about our efficient and effective online induction platform to see how much time and money you can save.