A work or occupational health and safety (WHS) system is a framework for managing several types of work-related risks. The aim of the system is to ensure the health and safety of all of your workers and other people affected by or involved in your business, such as customers and contractors.
However, a WHS system can only be effective if there is a culture of WHS in your business. This culture can only exist if workers believe that safety is the intent and objective of the most senior managers in the business.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS TO MY BUSINESS?
Unsafe practices put employees, customers, and contractors at risk no matter what industry you are in. In 2022 alone there have already been 94 Australians killed at work, up from 75 in 2021 (see SafeWork Australia data).
While it may initially cost money and time to implement safe practices, it is critical to the success of your business. Think of it as an asset on your balance sheet rather than red tape. Be mindful that not having a WHS policy could also result in prosecution, fines, and loss of skilled staff.
Keep in mind that workers’ compensation laws also require you to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy for your employees.
If you’re unsure about your own WHS system, try asking yourself the following questions:
Do we have a culture of maintaining WHS in our business?
Do we have an appropriate WHS policy?
Is prioritising WHS really the objective of our managers?
Do our employees feel safe at work?
WHAT IS A WHS POLICY?
A WHS policy is a document used by management to communicate the commitment of the business to upholding WHS. It is important that it is credible and unambiguous, and it should show leadership and commitment.
HOW DO I IMPLEMENT ONE?
Under Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, all employees have obligations concerning workplace health, safety, and injury management.
Managers of an organisation also have responsibilities in relation to promoting and complying with WHS requirements – more specifically, acting on incidents, hazards, providing training, and many more.
Your WHS policy should demonstrate:
Details of how senior management is taking responsibility for WHS compliance.
Details of how management will be accountable for WHS compliance.
Details of how management will be involved in WHS compliance.
That all injuries (in the wider sense) will be reported to management.
How management will monitor the implementation and ongoing compliance with the WHS system.