Six Things To Remember About Safety
The drivers to maintain a safe workplace is a given in any modern business. Of course, we’re largely aware that there is a legislative obligation to provide a safe workplace, but there is an even more basic driver (for most people at least) and that’s the simple objective of going home healthy every day.
What can sometimes be overwhelming is understanding the regulatory burden that is imposed on us as brewery operators. Don’t worry, this article isn’t going to provide a detailed critique of the WHS legal framework in Australia, but we often tell clients that to satisfy their obligations for safety under the legislation they need to remember six things.
These six elements have been published by Safework Australia to provide guidance as to what Officers of an organisation must do to meet their obligations. Another way of thinking about it is if you ever had to defend yourself against these charges, you would be well placed to start with these six items.
1. Knowledge of obligations
Put simply, its not a defence to say that you didn’t know you had legal obligations. Its reasonable to expect anyone running a business should have a basic understanding of their obligations under the legislation.
2. Understand the hazards
It is important that officer’s understand the safety hazards present in their business. As a manager you should know that working at height can cause serious harm or driving long distances without adequate rest can lead to injury. Once again, it is not a defence to say “I didn’t know”. Ask yourself, what are my top 3 risks and what am I doing about them?
3. Provide resources
To maintain a safe workplace we need to commit resources, whether that is time for staff to train them in safe work practices, purchasing adequate PPE, or advice from the right people. To ensure you’re allocating resources appropriately, it is important to take time to plan for safety. By focusing on your high risk areas you will get the best bang for your buck.
4. Appropriate response
It is important that organisations respond in a timely and effective manner to hazards or incidents when they are reported. If there is evidence that you knew of a hazard that wasn’t adequately controlled when an injury occurred, you will be up against it when defending any claims.
5. Enforce the rules
When we write procedures, and compile them in to a safety management system, really what we are doing is defining the rules of the workplace. If everyone plays by the rules then we will be in a good position to avoid any injuries. In many respects, this item is more important than the rules themselves. We could have the best safety procedures in the world, but if don’t enforce these rules then we will be exposed. In particular, this means that if someone breaks the rules, there needs to be appropriate consequences!
Any attempted defence will succeed or fail based on your ability to provide evidence. A simple concept when we are thinking about a court of law, but often a tedious element of our day-to-day workplaces, that can be easy to overlook.
Of course, the common question in relation to all of these six elements is “how much is enough?”. The legislation talks about doing what is “reasonably practicable”. Whilst at first glance this is vague, it is appropriate to consider that BHP should be doing more for safety compared to the local corner store.
Of course, all businesses have a constant challenge of where to apply their limited available resources. As long as you can show evidence of a considered decision, for example based on a risk assessment, you will be best placed to defend your position.
CLICK HERE to complete our due diligence survey to see where you sit against these six elements in satisfying your obligations under the legislation.
For more information or to get started with the IBASafe System, contact our program partners Victual