As well as being a legal obligation, WHS compliance is essential for the well-being of employees and visitors. A healthy WHS management system will minimize the risk of workplace accidents and incidents. This guide provides an overview of the steps involved to get you up and running or to test your existing systems.
The first step in checking health and safety compliance is to assess the level of management commitment to health and safety. This includes:
- Reviewing the health and safety policies and procedures to ensure they are up-to-date and reflect the company’s day to day needs.
- Assessing the level of investment in health and safety training, equipment, and resources.
- Evaluating the level of employee involvement in health and safety, including safety meetings and health and safety committees.
The next step is to assess the risk of harm in the workplace and implement control measures to minimize the risk. This includes:
- Conducting a workplace audit to identify potential hazards and assess the risk of harm.
- Identifying control measures to minimize the risk of harm, including the use of personal protective equipment, training, and administrative controls.
- Implementing and monitoring control measures to ensure they are effective.
Consultation with workers is an essential step in ensuring health and safety compliance. This includes:
- Establishing regular safety meetings to provide employees with an opportunity to raise health and safety concerns.
- Encouraging employees to report incidents and near-misses, and conducting investigations to identify the root cause.
- Encouraging employee participation in health and safety committees and other initiatives.
Risk management is a key component of health and safety compliance. This includes:
- Assessing the risk of harm in the workplace and implementing control measures to minimize the risk.
- Monitoring control measures to ensure they are effective and making changes as necessary.
- Reviewing the risk assessment process on a regular basis to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date.
Record keeping and reporting are an important part of a healthy WHS management system. You need to collect and analyse real safety data from your workplace. This includes:
- Reporting incidents and near-misses to the appropriate authorities, including WorkSafe.
- Keeping accurate records of incidents and near-misses, including the cause, location, and outcome.
- Reviewing incident and near-miss reports to identify trends and areas for improvement.
All events should be reported internally. To ensure this happens, workers should be helped to understand that reporting isn’t just a part of the blame game, but that it’s a genuine process to help improve outcomes and make the workplace safer and healthier. Employees will be more likely to report concerns or incidents if they trust the process.
Some incidents need to be reported to your local WHS authority. They will fall into one of three categories:
- The death of a person
- A serious injury or illness of a person
- A dangerous incident
Points 2 and 3 have specific meanings that we will look at in future posts. If you are not sure, search your local WHS authority’s website for “reportable incidents”, to find out what they mean in your jurisdiction.
Workers’ compensation is an important aspect of health and safety compliance. This includes:
- Ensuring workers have access to workers’ compensation in the event of an injury or illness.
- Providing workers with information about their rights and obligations under workers’ compensation legislation.
- Reporting incidents to the relevant workers’ compensation authority in a timely manner.
- Having appropriate processes in place to assist a recovering worker to return to work as soon as possible.
Worker capability is a key component of health and safety compliance. This includes:
- Providing workers with appropriate training and resources to perform their tasks safely.
- Assessing worker competence and providing additional training as necessary.
- Monitoring worker performance to ensure they are following safe work practices.
In conclusion, checking health and safety compliance in a small business is an essential step in ensuring the well-being of employees and visitors and minimizing the risk of workplace accidents and incidents.
The process should include an assessment of management’s commitment to safety, a robust process to indentify, assess and manage risk, clearly identified consultation arrangements, accurate data collection and reporting, as well as workers’ compensation and rehabilitation.
By following these steps and providing your workers with the tools and training they need to be safe, you will ensure your workplace is on a path to compliance and keeps everyone as safe as possible.