By Samantha Abbott

With a new work year ahead and potentially new workers on board, it is a prudent time for businesses to review their workplace health and safety systems and ensure workers are properly inducted, trained and supervised in their role. Equally it is important to review plant and equipment to ensure it is fit for use.

We understand that small businesses or family operated businesses may not have a dedicated occupational health and safety officer to manage all training and safety requirements. However, from our experience in handling workers compensation claims for these types of businesses, the following steps can assist in maintaining a safe system of work:

Management commitment:

Create and continue to update a written health and safety policy that outlines management’s commitment to workplace health and safety. The policy should also include the duties and responsibilities of all workers in taking part in workplace health and safety. The policy should be accessible to all workers.

Consult your workers about health and safety:

Workers are the frontline of the business and have firsthand experience participating in the system of work and handling tools and equipment. Management should hold regular team meetings and toolbox talks encouraging workers to provide feedback and speak up about safety concerns, so it can review and take appropriate action. Noticeboards, newsletters and emails are also ways to consult with workers about health and safety obligations and concerns.

Manage health and safety hazards

Activities that pose risk of injury include manual materials handling, exposure to vibration and noise from plant and equipment, and exposure to chemical and electrical hazards.

A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is a way of managing risks posed from work tasks. The purpose of a JSA is to methodically document a work task from start to finish in a step-by-step process. A JSA should contain:

  • The worker’s role and who is to complete the task;
  • How the task is to be carried out;
  • An outline of what the safety and environmental risks of the task are;
  • A description of the control measures that will be applied to the task (i.e. substitution, isolation, engineering control, administrative control and personal protective equipment);
  • A description of how the control measures will be implemented to complete the task safely.

Train and supervise workers

If workers are trained and supervised in their work tasks, incidence of occupational injury will be reduced. New workers need to be inducted into the business, have their role defined and explained, be provided with training and instructions for their tasks and be supervised in carrying out their tasks. Existing workers ought to be provided with annual refresher training for their tasks. It is important that documented training records are kept by management with the worker’s signature confirming the training was received.

Safety reporting

Management should carry out regular safety checks on workers performing their tasks and on the tools and equipment. Further, management should implement an incident/injury reporting register to action any safety concerns.

This is not an exhaustive list of steps businesses need to follow but it is a guide.  Businesses should be mindful that a health and safety management system is ongoing and requires monitoring and review. The benefits of having a health and safety management system include more motivated and involved workers, lower absenteeism and fewer business disruptions.

BTLawyers can help you manage your health and safety obligations.  For more information, please contact BTLawyers on 07 3211 2233 or samantha.abbott@btlawyers.com.au