Why is Work Health and Safety Important?
Work health and safety is paramount in the workplace and not just because it is legally required but because it makes for a safer, more productive workplace. Workplace health and safety minimises the risk of injury and illness in the workplace. WHS doesn’t just ensure the safety of the workers but also the employers, customers, contractors and anyone who comes into the business.
Why do we have workplace health and safety?
Work Health and Safety in Australian workplaces was formalised with the Work Health and Safety Act of 2011, to ensure the safety of all workers and persons visiting a business.
Work Health and Safety Act 2011
The Work Health and Safety Act of 2011 which was last amended in 2018 was designed to create a balanced and nationally consistent framework to ensure the health and safety of the workers and workplaces by protecting workers and other persons from injury or harm in the workplace through the elimination and minimisation of risk in the workplace.
This is done through the provision of the act and by ensuring a national standard for work health and safety in the workplace.
What happens you’re not safe in the workplace
Every year there are countless days of productivity lost to workplace injuries and illness. Poor WHS costs companies in productivity, company culture and tangible financial losses. In the 2012 / 2013 financial year, workplace injury and illness cost the Australian economy 61.8 billion dollars.
Since the introduction of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the number of workplace fatalities has decreased by 50%.
How to make sure your workplace has good WHS
It’s important to make sure that your workplace meets all Work Health and Safety Requirements laid out in the Work Health Safety Act 2011. The requirements for each type of workplace will differ depending on the size and industry of the business but below are some steps you can take to ensure your workplace has good work health and safety.
Elect and train the WHS Representative
The Work Health and Safety Representative is elected by the staff and represents the interests of the staff group. They are the go-between for employer and employee, working with other staff and management to identify any health and safety issues and report these to management.
The Health and Safety Representative or HSR are entitled in Queensland, to attend a five-day training course and this must be organised within three months of their request for training.
The course is called the Health and Safety Representative course and HSRs need to do this course in order to be able to issue PINs (Provisional Improvement notices). The course is taught over a five-day face-to-face workshop. You can learn more about the course here.
Have policies and procedures in place
It’s very important to have procedures and policies in place in the workplace for work health and safety. And not only because legally most businesses have to have one these. But also, because having a policy in place enables a business to take the time to assess risks and issues within the workplace and design the steps that will be taken to minimise those risks and assign responsibilities to different departments and representatives in the business to manage these risks.
Make work health and safety a priority with training included when an employee starts and refresher training given at least once a year. Keep your Health and Safety Officer’s training up to date as well. The HSR is entitled to refresher training every three years.
Get the Equipment and know how to use it
Keep all equipment up to date, ensure your employees have the right equipment to complete their work safely. And depending on the industry you’re in and what type of work your employees complete, there will be additional work, health and safety equipment required, such as signage and firefighting equipment. You can check out our blog on firefighting equipment for the workplace here.
Lead the charge on work health and safety
When you show leadership in work health and safety you inspire trust and respect in your staff. It shows your commitment to your workers and your commitment to making their safety and well-being a priority. This is good for company culture.
Work Health and Safety is very important in the workplace. It results in higher productivity, better company culture and a safer and more profitable company. If you’re interested in knowing about the training available for work health and safety, you can check out our courses here, or get in touch with our friendly course advisors. They can help you choose the right training options for your staff.