We all have a right to be safe at work, whatever our role. However, ensuring that happens involves understanding and accepting government legislation as well as demonstrating true organisational wide commitment to safety. We need to consider industry best safety practices, and take the necessary guidance, safe systems of work when the risk profile of the task requires it. The alternative is having an unsafe workplace, where your employees and third-party contractors are at risk of injury or worse. Ultimately, if you care for the wellbeing of your workers, then you’ll want to ensure their safety. A good starting point for this, is adherence to Australian safety legislation. This is what WHS compliance is all about, and something we should all be striving for.
What is Workplace Health and Safety?
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) is the term used to describe the measures your business puts in place to protect its employees, contractors and, in fact, anyone on its premises. WHS involves continually assessing your organisation’s practices and standards, to ensure that it complies with government regulation and that any potential safety risks are eliminated or minimised.
WHS legislation in Australia is governed by the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011. The WHS Act provides a framework that employers must follow to protect everyone associated with their business premises, workplace or service, including employees, contractors and volunteers. The WHS Act also ensures that the general public is not put at risk by an organisation’s work activities. The aim of the legislation is, ultimately, to prevent injury and illness and reduce risk.
What Are Your WHS Responsibilities?
Anyone deemed as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), has responsibilities under the WHS Act to provide a safe place of work. The exact responsibilities will depend on the industry in which you operate and individual circumstances. However, for all organisations, complying with WHS legislation includes the following key responsibilities:
- Creating a safe place of work
- Providing safe systems of work
- Mitigating security risks
- Supplying necessary safety equipment
- Assessing business practices
- Implementing control measures
- Training and educating employees
- Ensuring employees adhere to regulations
- Keeping policies up to date and relevant
- Maintaining up to date knowledge of WHS matters
- Measuring the effectiveness of safety procedures
When WHS legislation applies to your organisation, you must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of everyone working for you. While you can’t guarantee that no harm will ever occur, if you are WHS compliant, you will be able to demonstrate your efforts towards workplace health and safety.
To adhere to your WHS responsibilities, you need to understand the nature of your business and its related hazards and risks, and then ensure that you’ve used the necessary resources and processes to eliminate or minimise those risks.
How to Achieve WHS Compliance
As a PCBU, you’ll want to comply with national standards to keep your workers safe, mitigate risk and avoid heavy penalties. To achieve this, it’s vital to fully understand the WHS legislation that applies to your business and that is enforced by Safe Work Australia. You won’t be able to achieve compliance by guesswork alone; you may need to seek advice on regulations and legislation, understand the steps you need to take and continually assess your workplace to mitigate risks.
To achieve compliance, businesses need a robust compliance process in place. Every policy or rule, whether created internally or by an external body, must be adhered to. For example, this includes building the correct procedures for equipment safety and usage, but also making sure that employees have the necessary training and are following the required processes. To achieve compliance, you need robust strategies, processes you can trust and automation you can rely on.
What are the Benefits of Being WHS Compliant?
Meeting all of the WHS requirements and achieving WHS compliance can seem like a significant challenge. However, compliance is an ongoing process rather than a one-off task, and by striving towards compliance, your business can realise many benefits:
- Minimise the risk of injury or illness
- Reduce public liability claims
- Lower the cost of worker’s compensation
- Increase staff retention
- Boost employee productivity
If your business achieves WHS compliance, then you’ll be on the right side of all the legislation and regulations, but more importantly, you’ll be creating a culture that puts safety first and demonstrating to your employees and everyone that works with you that you care about their well-being.
For over a decade, Conserve has helped organisations overcome contractor management challenges. We can help you develop a contractor management service that will be not only effective but will make your organisation safer, while minimising your overall risk. Request a demo now or visit the Conserve page for more great content.
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