Who is in charge for workplace health and safety? Explained
As an employee, it’s important to know who is responsible for workplace health and safety. Workplace health and safety (WHS) is a crucial aspect of any organization, and everyone has a role to play in ensuring that the workplace is safe and healthy. In this guide, we’ll discuss why WHS is important, who is responsible for it, and the legal obligations that come with it. We’ll also provide tips on how to create a safe working environment, common workplace hazards, and resources for workplace health and safety.
Introduction to Workplace Health and Safety
Workplace health and safety refers to the procedures, policies, and measures put in place to ensure that employees are safe and healthy while on the job. This includes everything from providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to implementing safety protocols and training programs. A safe and healthy workplace is essential for the physical and mental well-being of employees, and it also increases productivity and reduces the risk of accidents and injuries.
Why Workplace Health and Safety is Important
Workplace health and safety is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it protects the health and well-being of employees. This includes physical health, such as reducing the risk of accidents and injuries, as well as mental health, such as reducing stress and burnout. Additionally, a safe and healthy workplace can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and improve employee morale.
Who is Responsible for Workplace Health and Safety?
Everyone in the workplace has a role to play in ensuring that the workplace is safe and healthy. This includes employers, employees, contractors, and visitors. Employers have the primary responsibility for WHS and must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety and health of their employees. This includes providing PPE, implementing safety protocols, and providing training and information to employees. Employees also have a responsibility to take care of their own health and safety, as well as that of their colleagues.
It is the legal responsibility of business owners and employers to have health and safety management systems in their workplaces. They need to make sure that the staff members, and anyone who visits their grounds, is protected from any potential danger.
Employers should follow the industry standards, legislations, rules and regulations of the country they are working. And provide access to health and safety information, SDS (Safety Data Sheets for Chemicals) and first aid.
Application of the obligations are:
- Provide a safe working environment, skilled staff, safe equipment, welfare and equipment.
- Provide psychologically safe working environment.
- Conducting occupational risk assessments to determine if there are adequate safety measures in place.
- Identifying who needs protection from accidents, including employees, contractors, temporary workers and people with special needs.
- Implement safety procedures by providing and maintaining anything needed to keep people safe, such as equipment and training.
- Develop a health and safety policy to make employees aware of existing health and safety procedures. Including fire safety, bullying and harassment prevention and first aid.
- Provide employees with information on occupational health and safety issues and how to protect them.
- Provide policies, procedures and training for staff to be aware of the risks and know the process on how to keep themselves and other people around them safe.
- Display of health and safety posters, incident warnings, health and safety information and updates, these are legal requirements.
- Provide first aid, as well as the number of first aiders who have received practical training.
Managing Directors, CEO, CFO or Executive Team
It is their duty to ensure their organisation complies with WHS laws. This is about strategic, structural, policy, and resourcing decisions, i.e. how stuff gets done.
What are those duties?
- Learn about and keep up to date with work health and safety issues
- Learn about the nature and operations of the job and the risks and hazards it involves
- Make sure the employer has, and uses, the right resources and processes to keep everyone safe
- Maintain appropriate processes to receive, consider, and respond to work-related incidents, hazards, and risks;
- The employer needs to ensure they have processes for complying with their duties and obligations (like reporting notifiable incidents, consulting with workers, complying with notices, providing training and instruction, and making sure HRS get their training), and
- Make sure the resources and processes are available and being used.
It is possible for Managing Directors, CEO, CFO or Executive Team to face criminal charges under the WHS Act regardless of whether the company has been convicted or found guilty of an offence under it.
It is the responsibility of all staff members to report any injuries, near misses, or illnesses, even if the injuries are minor, such as abrasions or cuts. Despite the minor injury, something worse is likely to happen if it isn’t investigated and corrected.
If an employee ignores it, it could get infected, and if the employee doesn’t report it, the employer can claim it has nothing to do with their work.
Safety equipment or tools needing to be used safely should be provided in the workplace, and employees should follow instructions carefully. Those who do not use these resources could face disciplinary action and lose their jobs.
Each employee needs to report any injuries, even paper cuts. Despite the small paper cut, it is more likely to become infected, causing intermediate problems. Unless the employee reports an infected wound, the employer may claim it is not related to the job they perform.
What are those responsibilities?
- Employees also have a legal duty to maintain the workplace safe and responsible for looking after their own health and safety as well as others who may be affected by their actions at work. Employee contributions to health and safety at work should be a priority and employers should be encouraged to utilise it.
- Understand the risks associated with their occupation, and do their job safely. This will assist the workplace to reduce workplace accidents.
- Follow any health and safety training, and work in a manner that does not endanger them or others.
- Comply with safety procedures, which include anything, put in place to protect their safety, such as safety barriers, systems, equipment, and wearing PPE if their work requires the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the tasks they are performing.
- Keep working safe without any injury or incident or any other illness that may arise from the work they conducting within the workplace.
- Report any hazards and hazards to their workplace or failure of safety procedures if they think there is a safety hazard. For example, if they find the wrong equipment or broken PPE, they should notify their supervisor immediately.
Ultimately, it makes sense for an employer dedicated to employee safety to shoulder most of the liability. Thus allowing them to be more productive.
Safety tools, equipment, and gear are being provided to employees by employers to help protect their health and wellbeing. Employers now set necessary policies and procedures, safe work systems, engineering controls. Due to changes, and enforcement of the WHS laws.
- Safety committees can increase the consultation within the workplace.
- They can assist the staff members to understand health and safety information, and responsibilities in his or her work scope.
Visitors, Customers, Delivery Person
Every person at a workplace, including customers and visitors, is responsible for their own health and safety as well as other individuals who may be affected by their actions or omissions. They also have to follow whatever reasonable instructions the company gives them about WHS, so far as they’re able.
Legal Obligations for Workplace Health and Safety
Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees. This includes complying with WHS legislation and regulations, conducting risk assessments, and implementing control measures to eliminate or minimize risks. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in fines, legal action, and reputational damage.
Health and Safety Information for Employees
Employees have the right to access information about WHS in their workplace. This includes information about hazards, risk assessments, and control measures. Employers must provide this information in a clear and understandable format, such as through training programs, safety manuals, and posters.
Creating a Safe Working Environment
Creating a safe working environment requires a proactive approach from employers and employees. This includes identifying hazards and risks, implementing control measures, and regularly reviewing and updating safety protocols. Employers should also provide PPE, such as safety glasses, gloves, and hard hats, to protect employees from hazards.
Occupational Health and Safety Training
Occupational health and safety training is an important aspect of workplace health and safety. Employers should provide training to employees on WHS policies and procedures, hazard identification and risk assessments, and emergency procedures. This can help employees to identify hazards and risks, and take appropriate action to prevent accidents and injuries.
Common Workplace Hazards and How to Prevent Them
There are several common workplace hazards that can pose a risk to employees’ health and safety. These include slips, trips and falls, manual handling, and exposure to hazardous substances. To prevent these hazards, employers should implement control measures, such as providing non-slip flooring, using mechanical aids for manual handling, and providing PPE to protect employees from hazardous substances.
Importance of Reporting Incidents and Near-Misses
Reporting incidents and near-misses is an important aspect of workplace health and safety. This can help to identify hazards and risks, and prevent future accidents and injuries. Employers should have a reporting system in place, and employees should be encouraged to report incidents and near-misses as soon as possible.
Workplace health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment, but employees also have a responsibility to take care of their own health and safety, as well as that of their colleagues. By working together, employers and employees can create a safe and healthy workplace that benefits everyone.
Every person at a workplace, including customers and visitors, is responsible for their own health and safety as well as other individuals who may be affected by their actions or omissions. They also have to follow whatever reasonable instructions the company gives them about WHS, so far as they’re able. WHS and Training Compliance Solutions Pty Ltd has online WHS training and Health and Safety Committee and WHS for Managers and Supervisors workshops across All states and Territories, contact us to learn more.
Resources for Workplace Health and Safety
There are several resources available for workplace health and safety. This includes government agencies, such as Safe Work Australia, which provides information and resources on WHS legislation and regulations. Employers can also hire WHS consultants or attend training programs to improve their knowledge and skills in WHS.
WHS and Training Compliance Solutions Pty Ltd has online WHS training and Health and Safety Committee and WHS for Managers and Supervisors workshops across All states and Territories, contact us for online health and safety training opportunities. (or onsite training)