In 2011, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act was passed in Australia to provide a framework for the protection of the health, welfare, and safety of all Employees at workplaces. The Act also serves to protect everyone that comes in contact with the workplace, such as visitors, customers, and the general public.
The WHS employment law model includes the following:
- Model WHS Act
- Model WHS Regulations
- Model Codes of Practice
These three elements of the WHS act are supported by the National compliance and enforcement policy that provides the fundamental principles on which WHS regulators can monitor enforce compliance within their jurisdictions.
The aim of the WHS act is to offer a framework for organizations across the country to make their workplaces safe and secure for their workers. The Act achieves this goal by:
- Protecting employees and other associated people from hazard by requiring employers to eliminate or minimise risk
- Providing effective methods of consultation and cooperation
- Helping worker unions and employers to promote and implement improvements in their WHS practices
- Providing standardized advice, information, resources, and training for WHS
- Ensuring compliance with the WHS Act through effective recommendations and enforcement measures
- Ensuring accountability of employers for the safety of their workers under the Act
What are the responsibilities of employers in the workplace?
As an employer in Australia, you have responsibilities that you’re required to abide by under the employment law. The most important of these responsibilities include:
- Providing a safe working environment for employees
- Keeping all employees safe from discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying
- Providing all workers with necessary resources, training, and mentoring that they’ll need to perform their responsibilities safely and effectively
- Informing all workers about their rights and responsibilities
- Training employees to deal with potential hazards and safety risks at the workplace
- Complying with first aid requirements
- Informing and reporting workplace injuries and incidents to Safe Work Australia
- Providing protective gear and equipment to workers and training them on how to use it correctly
Risk assessment and its types
The most important step for preventing accidents in a workplace is to identify potential hazards and dangers. Then, a comprehensive risk assessment needs to be conducted. The risk factors may include problematic electrical wiring, water leakage, slippery floors, malfunctioning equipment or machinery, and the general wellbeing and conduct of workers.
There are two main types of risk assessments; qualitative and quantitative. In quantitative assessment, the risk probability is based on previous information related to applied circumstances. On the other hand, a qualitative assessment is more subjective and rooted in personal judgment.
How to identify workplace hazards?
It’s essential to identify workplace hazards, so you can take actions to ensure safety. When you’re assessing a potential workplace risk, make sure you answer the following questions to reach a conclusion and create the best course of action:
- What is the seriousness of the risk? For example, the potential for different types of injuries, severity of each injury)
- What are the current control and safety measures in place? Are they effective?
- What actions could be taken to minimize the level of risk?
- What is the urgency level of managing these particular risks?
What type of risk control measures to take?
To decide how to control and minimize potential risk, the nature of the risk will need to be understood. Take a look at some of the risk management and control measures that you can take at your office:
- Offer workers longer breaks or shorten the length of work shifts
- Move the workplace to a less crowded area
- Change or modify a task to reduce the risk of injury
- Provide additional training and support to employees at higher risk at the workplace
- Install signage and instructions aware employees of the risks in the area
- Offer incentives and bonuses to employees so they can implement safety practices at work into their routine
- Train employees with emergency drills to improve response times
Maintaining a safe workplace environment for employees is of paramount importance. If you run a business in Australia, consider seeking legal advice from us at Chamberlains to help you implement regulations and employment law.