Assuring Workplace Safety
Assuring workplace health and safety
Workplace health and safety is assured when persons are free from death, injury or illness caused by any workplace, workplace activities or specified high risk plant.
Workplace health and safety is assured when persons are free from risk of death, injury or illness created by any workplace, workplace activities or specified high risk plant.
Workplace health and safety can generally be managed by;
- identifying hazards
- assessing risks that may result because of the hazards
- deciding upon control measures to prevent, or minimize the level of, the risks
- implementing control measures
- monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the measures
Health and Safety
Our policy is to provide a controlled work environment that protects the health, safety and welfare of all employees, sub-contractors and other persons in all our workplaces.
The company accepts its responsibility as an employer, to train and assist all employees in safe work practices, and seeks the full support and co-operation of all employees and sub-contractors in this endeavour.
- Management will meet its obligations to the Act, Regulations, Codes and Standards, by identifying all issues appropriate to the management of health and safety in all our workplaces.
- Employees are committed to implementing and monitoring good health and safety practices in their specific areas of operation.
- All employees have a personal responsibility to their employer, their fellow workers, themselves and the general public to adopt and maintain appropriate health and safety standards in all their work activities.
- At all times, the company maintains health and safety as a priority and will not knowingly demand or expect any person to participate in any activities that are likely to be detrimental to their health or safety.
3 points to remember:
- Most incidents can be avoided; be aware of conditions around you. If you see that something is wrong, fix it or report it.
- Do not have the attitude that health and safety is someone else’s problem.
- You have a legal obligation to work safely; breaches can result in heavy fines for you and the company
Stick to the Rules
- Be aware of your obligations under the legislation
- Be aware of company rules and regulations
- Co-operate with directions to maintain and improve safe conditions
Know Your Way Around
- Become familiar with the workplace in all respects, so that you know where to go and who to turn to in an emergency.
- Locate all exit points.
- Know who is responsible for Health and Safety and First Aid.
- Locate First Aid stations.
- Know the evacuation procedures.
- Find out where the fire fighting equipment is and how to use it.
- Locate communication points such as phones and intercoms, etc.
Share What you Know
Tactfully alert a fellow worker if he/she is engaged in unsafe practices.
Housekeeping – Amenities
- A clean workplace is a safer workplace and you have a personal responsibility to clean up after yourself.
- Keep amenities clean; such as showers, change rooms, fridges, urns, microwaves, jugs, appliances, sink and bench tops and meal rooms.
- Put rubbish, scraps, waste etc. in bins.
- Put perishable foodstuffs in the refrigerator.
- Replace lids and caps on containers.
- Wipe up spills
Keep your Eyes Open
- Be alert to potential hazards and risks; if you observe any then do something about them.
- Report potentially dangerous situations or practices to management.
- Remove, cover, signpost or barricade hazards whenever practical.
[e.g. Workplace Health and Safety Act]
The Workplace Health and Safety Act, places responsibilities on every person at a workplace. Employers, employees, principle contractors, designers, manufacturers, suppliers and importers have clearly stated responsibilities.
Administration of the Act
- The Minister for Industrial Relations is responsible for the administration of the Act.
- The legislation is administered by the Department of Training and Industrial Relations.
Scope of the Act
The Act applies to all persons:
- who may in any way affect the health and safety of others or
- whose health and safety may be affected in any way by workplaces, work at workplaces, workplace operations, and specified high risk plant.
Purpose of the Act
The Workplace Health and Safety Act:
- improves industry and workplace level consultative arrangements
- clarifies the obligations imposed on persons under the legislation
- explains how persons can fulfil their obligations by using Regulations.
Objective of the Legislation
The overall objective of the Act is to provide freedom from the risk of disease or injury at any workplace, workplace operations or high risk plant.
This objective is to be achieved through:
- The establishment of a workplace health and safety board and various industry committees to advise the minister. These are known as “industry consultative arrangements.”
- Provision for the election of workplace health and safety representatives and the establishment of workplace health and safety committees. These “workplace consultative arrangements” will foster consultations between workers and employers.
- The appointment of workplace health and safety officers.
- The provision of workplace health and safety regulations that must be complied with.
- The provision of standards which give practical advice on ways to identify and manage exposure to risk in the workplace. These standards will be set by the minister.
- The promotion of community awareness of workplace health and safety.
- Imposing obligations on persons whose actions or omissions may affect the health and safety of others at a workplace.
- Provision for the appointment of inspectors and enforcement procedures.
Workplace Health and Safety regulations
A regulation is legislation made by the minister to deal with matters of an administrative nature; or prohibit exposure to risk; or prescribe ways to prevent or minimise exposure to risk. Where a regulation defines the way to do the work it must be followed.
Advisory standards and Industry Codes of Practice
Advisory Standards state ways to manage exposure to risk common to industry, whilst Industry Codes of Practice state ways to manage exposure to risks identified by a part of industry.
The principal contractors must ensure all work at the workplace is carried out in a manner that ensures workplace health and safety, helps employers and self-employed persons to fulfil their workplace health and safety obligations, ensures plant and substances provided for general use are safe and without risk of illness or injury to persons at the workplace, ensures hazards that no other person has obligations for are controlled and ensures workplace activities do not risk the health and safety of members of the public at, or near the workplace.
If a Principal Contractor believes an employer or a self-employed person at the workplace is not meeting their WH&S obligations, the Principal Contractor must direct this person to do so. If the person fails to comply, the Principal Contractor must direct all work to stop until the employer or self-employed persons agrees to fulfil their obligations.
The employers must ensure the workplace health and safety of each of their workers and themselves and to ensure others (visitors, salespersons, pedestrians) who may be affected by the way they conduct their business and work activities are not exposed to risks.
The self-employed must ensure the workplace health and safety of themselves and others are not adversely affected by the way they conduct their business and work activities are not exposed to risks.
Persons in control of workplaces
Ensure the risk of injury or illness from a workplace is minimised for persons coming onto the workplace.
Ensure the risk of injury or illness from any plant or substance provided by the person for the performance of work by someone other than the person’s workers is minimised when used properly.
Ensure there is appropriate, safe access to and from the workplace for persons other than the person’s workers.
Workers and Other Persons
Workers and other person on site must follow the instructions of an Employer or Principle Contractor regarding the workplace health and safety of themselves and others. Workers are required to use personal protective equipment if provided by their employer and they are properly instructed in its use. Among their obligations they are required:
- Not to wilfully or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided for workplace health and safety
- Not to wilfully or put at risk the workplace health and safety of any person or
- Not to wilfully injure themselves
Penalties & Offences
An Improvement Notice is the most common form of action taken by the Division of Workplace Health and Safety. This requires a person who has a legal obligation (an employer or an employee) to rectify a breach of the law within a specified time period.
An Improvement Notice is written, and must state what is wrong, what must be done to fix it, and a date by which the changes must be made. It is an offence not to comply with an Improvement Notice.
A Prohibition Notice immediately stops the circumstances which have given rise to the immediate risk to health and safety. The notice must state, what is causing the risk, the relevant part of the legislation, and under what circumstances the notice will be lifted.
Common Law Liability
The Common Law is the law built up and developed through the courts over the years into rules and principles.
Common Law actions generally depend on fault on someone’s part and damages are the usual remedy. Damages can be extensive.
The concern is with liability in the field of TORT – simply described as a civil wrong (as opposed to a criminal offence) and negligence with the most important example.
In legal terms “negligence” relies on three features:
- A duty of care owed to the Plaintiff;
- A breach of that duty by the Defendant; and
- Damage to the Plaintiff resulting from that breach.
The standard of care adopted is that of the “reasonable man of ordinary prudence”.
There are three main areas where the Employer can be held liable for injuries or damage suffered by an employee:
- Vicarious liability of the Employer;
- Personal liability of the Employer; and
- Breach of Statutory Duty.
The Employer is held responsible for the negligent actions of his employees in the course of their employment.
A negligent employee may theoretically be sued himself, but in reality it is the employer who is sued. The employer may however have his redress by disciplining the employee through demotion, sacking, etc. or even demanding contribution.
In the previous case the employer is held liable for the negligence of another. However, the employer himself owes certain duties to his employees and he will be liable for any breach of those duties which results in injury to another employee.
There are four basic duties of an employer:
- To provide and maintain competent staff;
- To provide and maintain a safe place of work;
- To provide and maintain safe plant and appliances; and
- To provide and maintain a safe system of work (A system means generally the way things are done).
Breach of Statutory Duty
This refers to the other body of law – the various Acts of Parliament eg. Coal Mining Act, Radioactive Substances Act, Workplace Health and Safety Act, etc.
The Acts contain provisions designed for the safety of certain persons and commonly prescribe specific precautions to be taken.
Breach of this law has different effects from the last two heads of liability.
- It gives rise to penalties; as an offence against the Act.
- It gives rise to civil action for damages for any injuries caused.
Workplace Health and Safety Officers
A workplace health and safety officer in a workplace is there to monitor the safety management system.
A workplace health and safety officer has the following functions
- Inform the employer or the Principal Contractor about the overall state of health and safety at the workplace;
- conduct inspections at the workplace to identify any hazards and unsafe or unsatisfactory workplace health and safety conditions and practices;
- report to the employer or principal contractor any hazard or unsafe or unsatisfactory workplace health and safety practice identified during inspections;
- establish appropriate educational programs in workplace health and safety;
- investigate, or assist the investigation of, all work injuries, work caused illnesses and dangerous events at the workplace;
- help inspectors in the performance of the inspector’s duties;
- if any work injury, work caused illness, dangerous event or immediate risk to workplace health or safety at the workplace happens – to report the injury, illness, event or risk to the employer or the Principal Contractor;
- at least once a year do an assessment of the workplace and give a written report to the employer. The form is approved by the safety committee or the approved form by the Division of Workplace Health and Safety.
Workplace Health and Safety Representatives
Workplace Health & Safety Representatives are a key aspect in managing safety. They represent the worker’s interests in safety and usually form part of the workplace health and safety committee.
Some of the entitlements or workplace health and safety representatives include:
- to inspect the workplace or the part of the workplace within the representative’s area of representative; and
- to review circumstances surrounding work injuries, work caused illnesses and dangerous events told to the representative by the employer; and
- to advise the employer of the results of the review and to make recommendations arising out of the review; and
- to be consulted by the employer on any proposed change to the workplace, or plant or substances used at the workplace, that affects, or may affect, the workplace health and safety of persons at the workplace; and
- to be told by the employer of the presence of an inspector at the workplace if the representative is at the workplace; and
- Safety Representatives are to be given paid training to enable them to perform their entitlements.
Workplace Health and Safety Committees
The Purpose of the Committee
A committee can help create a consultative approach to health and safety. A successful Committee should seek to undertake the following issues:
- Analyse and discuss incident reports.
- Analyse and discuss reports from workplace inspections.
- Analyse and discuss reports from the Workplace Health and Safety Officer.
- Analyse and discuss various workplace statistics.
- Discuss issues or complaints raised by workers.
- Evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the committee.
- Develop, monitor and continually improve workplace training.
- Actively promote workplace health and safety issues.
- Develop new policies and procedures.
- Monitor and act accordingly on all matters relating to housekeeping, fire prevention, guarding, protective equipment and violations of safety rules.
- Monitor and act accordingly on issues relating to general working conditions, such as lighting, ventilation and noise levels in the workplace.
- Monitor and act accordingly on longer-term occupational health problems.
Notification and Recording Requirements
The Principal Contractor must notify of serious injuries, illnesses and dangerous events to the Division of Workplace Health and Safety.
All injuries, illnesses and dangerous events must be recorded by the Principal Contractor and also advised to [enter-your-company-name-here]. The employers must record the injuries and illnesses of their workers and self employed people record their own injuries and illnesses.
The employer and self employed person must help the Principal Contractor as well as [enter-your-company-name-here] in the notification and recording process if it is them or their workers that are injured or caused the dangerous event.
Construction Workplace Plans
A documented plan for the workplace can assist the Principal Contractor to manage relevant workplace health and safety obligations.
A principal contractor must prepare a construction workplace plan before construction work starts.
The plan must state
- workplace address;
- name and address of the Principal Contractor;
- principal contractor’s ABN;
- whether there is a WHS committee;
- whether there is a WHS Officer appointed;
- expected start date;
- estimated duration of the work;
- type of construction;
- plant provided for common use;
- site rules;
- the risks the Principal Contractor is obligated to manage;
- proposed control measure for the risks;
- how the controls will be implemented;
- arrangements for monitoring and reviewing controls;
- emergency procedures; and
- public safety strategies.
The plan must be written so it is easy to understand, signed and dated by the Principal Contractor. It must be available for the length of the project.
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