Health & Safety - The Bare Bones

Now, this isn’t what we recommend, doing it yourself, but it is a start to getting your house in order.

Under the HSWA there’s a requirement to identify hazards, implement controls for those hazards, and ensure they continue to be managed.

So what does this really mean?

For all businesses this falls into the following categories:

  • Health & Safety policy statement
  • Significant hazards register
  • Hazardous substances register
  • Ongoing management of these risks.

There’s more, but I’ll mention that later.

What’s interesting is the law and WorkSafe don’t specifically say you need a written plan, but they don’t specifically say you don’t either.

What they do say is you need to be able to demonstrate the above to a WorkSafe inspector when they turn up. This to date has resulted in the very predictable, “Where’s your written Health & Safety Plan?”

I don’t know about you, but I’m yet to find a way that’s not written down that manages this well. So you need a written plan.

To date, we have seen threats and notices issuing fines of $10,000 to $50,000 for not being about to present a written plan. So it’s serious.

So what’s a Health & Safety policy statement?

This is a statement signed by the PCBU on how they are going to operate and behave with Health & Safety in the business.

This will be the first thing a WorkSafe inspector will look for.

Significant hazards register.

This is the core register of H&S risk for your business; this needs to be realistic, compliant and managed. Against the specific risks in your business.

Hazardous substances register

For those businesses that have hazardous substances this can be a significant risk, again it needs specific detail around the substances you hold, store and use. This includes Material Data Sheet (MDS) on every chemical to assist in both day to day and emergency situations.

Ongoing management of identified risks.

This is a two-fold area; one is checking that known risks are managed, and controls are being maintained, and any new risks are identified and addressed in a timely fashion.

We’ve already had a prosecution under the new laws where a risk was identified and not managed or rectified, and a worker was injured. The fine handed out was $275,000.

We actively assist our H&S customers with this by providing them with their Hazard Inspection Checklist every month as a reminder it needs doing.

In our view, these are the bare basics you need to tackle to minimise the current injury risk in your business, at the same time they aren’t the whole system either.

Additionally to all of this, a good H&S system will have:

  • Injury and return to work rehabilitation planning
  • Staff training induction, ongoing training, and training plans.
  • Contractor induction and management, including capturing contractor H&S planning and ensuring they work together.
  • Emergency and evacuation plans
  • Drills and testing of emergency procedures
  • Accident investigation and reporting processes and procedures
  • Formal review of significant hazard and substances registers
  • Injury prevention for workplace practices
  • Instruction on emergency and safety equipment
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply, use and management.
  • Additional supporting systems and information for the environment, like site-specific safety planning (SSSP) and job safety assessments (JSA) to name a couple.

As you can see the bare basics just cover here and now. They don’t move you forward, and they certainly don’t manage the external risks other people and businesses represent to your environment.

What you do need to be clear on, the device you are reading this on, and the one on the desk, if it’s not this one, is considered a significant hazard under the new laws too. A significant hazard for long-term pain, injury and disability.

We also follow up our clients on every review point to ensure they remain compliant and prepared. And that’s the free part, no extra fees from us for that.

Our next article is going to be covering site management, which is a fun one for the tradies out there

Health & Safety, SSSP, On-Site Hazard Disclosure & JSA