A moment is all it takes: 4 ways to keep WHS front of mind at your business

10 October 2018

Lives change forever when there is an injury or death in the workplace, which is why it’s important to make work, health and safety (WHS) a priority at your business.

To keep WHS front of mind, this National Safe Work Month, Safe Work Australia (SWA) is asking employers to make the commitment to take a moment each day to think about safety in their workplace.

To help you do this, we spoke to SWA who shared with us four ways businesses can incorporate good WHS practices into their day-to-day operations to keep their employees safe, and their business reaping the return on investment of a healthy and safe workplace.

And remember, “Taking a safety moment can be as simple as spending five minutes every morning talking with your team about the hazards and risks in your workplace, and how to prevent harm.” Michelle Baxter - CEO Safe Work Australia

1: Preform job hazard analyses

Knowing your WHS hazards and risks can lower the chances of them happening and provide you with the opportunity to develop a plan to either eliminate or minimise them.

A good way to identify WHS hazards and risks is to perform job hazard analyses. Through performing regular analyses your business will be able to identify new hazards and risks early. This will give you the opportunity to design them out by developing safety procedures and policies, or to minimise them by incorporating effective risk control measures.

For practical guidance on how to design work and your workplace so it is healthier and safer read Safe Work Australia’s Principles of Good Work Design handbook.

If you need help identifying, assessing and controlling hazards in your workplace, please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority. SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise your business.

Questions to consider

  • What are the physical, mental and emotional demands associated with your businesses work or workplace?
  • What machines, equipment, materials, substances, vehicles and structures does your business use? What hazards and risks do they present?
  • Who’s doing the work and do they have the tools, skills and resources they need to do it safely?
  • Do you have the right controls in place?
  • Are safe work methods or safety check completed before work starts?

2:  Run WHS training

As a business owner there are legal requirements you must comply with to ensure your workplace is safe for your workers, customers and visitors. Running regular WHS training including inductions and refresher courses, for new and returning staff, can help you make sure all people entering your workplace understand your workplaces’ safety policies, procedures and practices. Not providing correct safety training can leave you and your business liable to face penalties or prosecution for workplace incidents.

Your workplaces safety training will depend on your business requirements however all people entering your workplace need to be presented with easy to understand safety information, instructions and guidelines. This may require you to develop your safety material into visual aids or translate them into appropriate languages.

After safety training is completed employees and any visitors using equipment should continue to be supervised. If changes are made to machinery or equipment, remember to update your safety training too.

If you need help identifying what WHS training you need to run in your workplace, please contact your state or territory work health and safety authority. SWA is not a regulator and cannot advise your business.

Questions to consider

  • Has all people entering your workplace been provided with WHS training?
  • Are all machinery and equipment being used as intended? Do staff feel confident using it?
  • Is personal protective equipment required? Do all staff and visitors to your workplace know how to wear it?

3: Schedule plant and equipment maintenance

Plant including machinery, equipment and tools is a major cause of death and injury in Australian workplaces.

Plant designers are responsible to eliminate or minimise risks by designing operator, guarding and emergency stop controls, and by providing information to help others manage plant health and safety risks. Business owners are however responsible to confirm that they and their staff are being provided with safe machinery, equipment and tools. To do this business owners should inspect and test the supplied plant and machinery or get third party verification of the manufacturing process.

Taking the time to inspect your plant, equipment and tools, provides you with the chance to fix potential issues before they become a hazard. Get proactive and set a regularly time to complete routine maintenance check and workplace inspections. This way you will able to ensure that all machinery and equipment remains clean, hygienic and in good working order and is being used appropriately for the work.

Read Safe Work Australia’s guides for safe design of plant and manufacturing safe plant  for more information about plant design.

Questions to consider

  • Has broken or damaged equipment been replaced?
  • Are your maintenance schedules up to date?
  • Can workers report breakdowns and malfunctions easily?
  • Are your systems and equipment contemporary and to industry standard?
  • Is it being cleaned and stored appropriately?

4: Be a WHS leader

The role of business leaders is crucial to WHS performance. When workers know their managers place high importance on working safely, they are more likely to be motivated to follow safety procedures and raise safety issues.

Safe Work Australia Members have developed five leadership principles to help you develop your safety leadership practices and create a workplace culture that promotes safety. The five principles are:

  • commit to safety
  • get involved
  • encourage participation
  • make WHS part of your business
  • review your performance.

Another way to provide good work health and safety leadership and culture is to engage and consult with your employees and encourage their participation in making safety decisions.

Tips to engage and consult with staff

  • Share relevant WHS information with workers.
  • Give workers a reasonable opportunity to express their views and raise health or safety issues.
  • Give workers a reasonable opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process relating to the health and safety matter.
  • Take account of workers’ views.
  • Tell workers about the outcomes of any consultation and in a timely matter.

Want to improve WHS in your workplace or industry?

Safe Work Australia is offering between $2,000 and $20,000 to help fund great work health and safety projects. Apply online and bid for a chance to win the funds to make your project a reality.

The best projects will go into the running for the People’s Choice Award and to win $5,000.

Safe Work Australia National Safe Work Month

Safe Work Australia was established in 2008 to develop national policy and guidance for WHS and workers’ compensation. Since their commencement there has been a steady decline in the rate of work-related fatalities and workers’ compensation claims.

If you would like to get involved in Safe Work Australia’s National Safe Work Month, share your safety moment on social using #mysafetymoment.

Keep an eye on their social channels and sign up to their mailing list for alerts and updates.