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Does Your Workplace Pass the Safety Test?

Creating a safe environment to work in is critical to an organisation’s success - it’s also one of the best ways to retain your employees and maximise their productivity. If you don’t invest in safety, accidents can be costly. As a leader and/or manager it’s part of your responsibility when it comes to health and safety. (Work Health and Safety Act 2011). In this post, we talk about some of these responsibilities and share some tips on making sure your workplace is up to standard.

Why Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) is important to business

  • Cost-benefits. Identify the direct and indirect costs and benefits associated with a proposed WHS initiative, and determining the net cost or benefit. Using this approach, what appears to be costly practices turn out to be solid investments in the long term.

  • Risks of not worrying about WHS. WHS failures that are not catastrophic in nature can also be costly to a business, often in the form of increased workers’ compensation claims and rising insurance premiums, higher wage costs associated with replacing ill or injured workers, and repairs to industry and equipment. Such events can be costly to the business in ways that are invisible or difficult to detect, such as employee turnover, and low employee engagement.

  • Strategic value. Research shows that consumers are less willing to remain loyal to a business that has a poor WHS record. Furthermore, businesses operating in high risk industries are able to use their safety record to attract high quality candidates and demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Reasonably Practicable

This is one of the main responsibilities for a leader in an organisation, meaning that while they don’t guarantee that no harm will occur, they will do all that is reasonable to ensure a safe working environment.

Including, but not limited to the following:

  • providing and maintaining a work environment without risk to health and safety

  • providing and maintaining safe systems of work

  • monitoring the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace regularly

  • consulting with workers and their representatives on work health and safety matters

  • providing information, training, instruction and supervision so workers can safely perform their work activities.

Risk Management

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, you must assess risks and implement and review control measures to prevent or minimise exposure to these risks.

The process of mitigating health and safety risks is called risk management and involves the following steps:

  1. Identifying hazards - find out what could cause them.

  2. Assess the risks - understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening

  3. Control risks - implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in circumstances; and,

  4. Review control measures - to ensure they are working as planned.

Common OH&S Issues in the Office

It is known that office OH&S issues can be different to those in other environments, e.g. construction or manufacturing. The common theme is that if these risks are not addressed, it can create negative impacts on your health and work. In the office, basic resources such as the work desk, chair and computer should be in a convenient and comfortable position. Due to long hours of use and static motions, the equipment and positioning should be freely moved around by the employee to reduce problems. Employees need to be allowed to move about as prolonged hours of sitting can cause health risks and reduce concentration. Short breaks from sitting is a recommended course of action.

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