According to the latest data available from Safe Work Australia, approximately 73 workers have died from a work-related illness or injury this year alone. Workers’ compensation claims are not cheap – this costs small businesses millions. So if you can avoid them in the first place, don’t you think it’s worth a little bit of planning? Learn about five top factors to consider when planning your workplace health and safety strategy.
If you have been following the trend in the last few years, you will know that the Government has been putting a lot of emphasis on workplace safety. Employers are under increasing pressure to make sure that they follow the law and ensure their employees' safety in the workplace.
Work Health and Safety (WHS) is therefore a legal requirement for your small business and if you aren't taking the proper steps to comply with it, then not only are you putting your employees at risk, you are also putting your business at risk. When an employee is injured, they are not working and that means less money coming in the door every month. In fact if you are not careful, workplace injuries could cost your business a lot more than just money. Instead of focusing on increasing the bottom line, you will be dealing with lawyers and other expenses. Fines are not pretty and they can add up quickly.
Fortunately, a well planned workplace health and safety system can make a big difference. To ensure all bases are covered and your small business is complying with the law, here are five things that should be at the top of your mind when you set out to make your workplace a safer place.
To ensure you are not going in blind when it comes to WHS, make sure your business has a solid understanding of the law and that it's being followed. The main WHS legislation in Australia are the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. There are subtle differences that make the legislation differ from state to state, so it's important that you know what applies in your jurisdiction and not just rely on a generic guide. Having said that, the legislation places the primary duty of care on the employer and it is essential that you are aware of your obligations when it comes to workplace health and safety.
Employers are expected to:
Also employers should be aware that employees have obligations too, and they include:
It is only when you understand your obligations, your employees' obligations and how you can protect them, it's possible to create a workplace health and safety plan.
Your aim is to seek to get a clear picture of the workplace hazards which are likely to cause personal injury, personal disruption or substantial damage to your small business. These can be caused by poor health and safety education, or hazardous equipment or activities. This is particularly important because as a company, you will need to prioritise where you are going to spend your budget on health hazard points of focus.
So in trying to manage risk for their work environment, small businesses should:
A Job Safety Analysis conducted at the earliest possible stage would go a long way in helping a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) make informed WHS decisions - which would be very efficient & cost effective as the solutions would be targeted.
One of the worst mistakes we see small business owners make is thinking they can get by. This might involve skimming through a checklist gotten off the internet, knowing first aid, having fire extinguishers etc.
Unfortunately that’s not enough.
When it comes to your small business, the number of tasks you have on your plate every day can quickly add up. If you don't have a dedicated person to manage workplace health and safety, even the simplest tasks can quickly become too much. In addition, if you have to take on the role of WHS manager and another job as well, it can quickly become overwhelming. In light of this, it's important to understand your capacity and what you are capable of. This way, you can make appropriate provisions in your plan.
It would be a disaster to create a plan only to realise you don't have the knowledge, skills, and other resources to carry it out. And if this happens, you can be sure your business will suffer the consequences both financially and in terms of its reputation. So, before you set down to create your workplace health and safety plan, make sure you are clear about what your small business' capacity and capabilities are.
Sadly, the reality is that most small businesses simply don't have the capacity to manage workplace health and safety on their own. This is where the use of WHS management software can be useful. So rather than having to throw your hands in the air, consider outsourcing or investing in a WHS management software instead.
Remember that the best plans are only effective when you have the right resources to put them into action. In other words, to effectively create a plan and implement it, you need to have the right set of people on your team. First of all, you should consider appointing a person/persons dedicated to Workplace, Health and Safety, especially if you don't have the capacity to manage it yourself. Having one person responsible for the implementation of your plan and having that person reporting to you, will ensure there is no confusion about roles. In addition, it will provide a sense of ownership in the plan and there is no room for misinterpretations.
The individuals you choose to work on your team should be knowledgeable about the legislation that applies in your state or territory. Build your team to include management and workers/or their representatives. You need to make sure they understand who is in charge, what type of business environment they work in, what type of hazards they are exposed to and how risks should be managed. Remember that WHS is a collective responsibility and that no single person should be burdened with this responsibility alone.
Traditional methods of planning WHS can be time consuming and complex, and most busy business owners don’t have time to become experts in this area. And if you’re wondering, “doesn’t Google provide all the answers for everything?” When it comes to health and safety, you need real contextual answers - not just search engine results.
The best way to make sure your small business is handling workplace safety issues effectively is to incorporate a WHS Management Software into your procedures. The benefits of such a system far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. A WHS system can help provide a structured and systematic approach to monitoring compliance with health and safety legislation, thereby facilitating a quicker response to incidents that could occur at your workplace. In addition, a WHS management system can assist with employee management tasks such as training and supervision, record keeping, remote access and communication, and report writing.
Using Kiri Align, you can quickly and easily reduce costs and time spent on management tasks, leaving you with more time to focus on growing your business. No fuss, no stress – safety and compliance management made easy.