Why SMEs should prioritise Workplace Health and Safety despite the obvious. What is the Incentive?

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Aug 15, 2018 | Posted in Business Advice, Human Resources Services
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The journey to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) compliance can be overwhelming for many SMEs.  It’s time consuming. It’s labour intensive. Unintentionally, it often ends up at the bottom of the list.  Despite the obvious, what’s the incentive to prioritise?

The Incentive

Queensland recently introduced the new offence of industrial manslaughter into the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011. Maximum penalties of $20 million for a person conducting a business or undertaking and, a jail term of 20 years for a senior officer may apply, if found to have negligently caused the death of a worker in Queensland.

Safe Work Australia released national guidance material on work-related psychological health and safety on 14 June 2018. It outlines what businesses need to do to ensure the psychological health and safety of its workers.

These recent changes give us something to think about. Perhaps just the incentive needed to shift a SME from Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) complacency to WHS priority?

Why make WHS a priority?

A physical and/or psychological incident could occur in your workplace at any time. That’s the reality.  It’s a matter of when (not if).  Without an active comprehensive WHS Management System in place, your business is exposed. It’s a real business risk.

Consider this

  • If an accident/incident occurred in your workplace today (physical or psychological) would you be able to demonstrate that you had taken all ‘reasonably practicable’ steps to ensure the health and safety of your workforce?
  • Would your business pass the WHS Compliance Audit if your business was inspected?
  • Do you have in place an effective and active WHS Management System that meets your WHS obligations? 

An effective WHS Management System

An effective WHS Management System demonstrates the active steps you have taken to put in place control measures to eliminate or minimise any identified workplace hazards to ensure the health (physical and psychological) and safety of your workforce.  WHS policies and procedures should form the framework of your WHS Management System.

The 6 key Components of an effective WHS Management System [i] 

1. Management commitment – clearly defined responsibilities for management and workers. Management are involved – promote safety as a high priority; lead by example; allocate time, money and resources to meet safety responsibilities

2. Consultation – workers are involved when identifying and resolving safety issues

3. Policies and safe work procedures – developed and implemented for managing any identified safety risks and/or issues in the workplace

4. Education, training and supervision of all workers to ensure safe work procedures are followed at all times

5. Reporting, monitoring and measuring – processes in place for reporting identified hazards and incidents (safety issues).  Management takes the appropriate action to eliminate and/or minimise and monitor identified safety issue

6. Worker’s compensation and return to work– injury investigation/notification policy and procedures.  Return to work program for injured workers

An effective WHS Management system will reduce the risk of workplace injuries and can help reduce your workers' compensation premium.  An incentive that makes good business sense.

Ulton is here to help

Our HR Consulting Services can get you started.  We have the knowledge and expertise to develop and implement a comprehensive WHS Management system tailored to your business.  We’ll provide you with guidance and train your people. We will ensure your journey to WHS compliance is as painless as possible. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

For further information and an obligation free quote, please contact Ulton’s experienced and highly skilled Human Resources Consultant, Christine Guy directly on (07) 4154 0413.

[i] Source – ‘Serious about safe business?  Compliance at a Glance – How do you rate?’, Office of Industrial Relations – Workplace Health and Safety Queensland




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