October is National Safe Work Month, so we’re asking you to take five and think about safety in your business. This week, special counsel Gemma Sharp talks about the management of health and safety risks and the steps you need to take to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
October is National Safe Work Month, and each week we’re asking you to think safety in your business. I’m Gemma Sharp, a special counsel in Cooper Grace Ward’s workplace relations and safety team. In week one, I asked you to think about some of the common health and safety risks which exist within your business. In week two, Belinda Winter asked you to think about mental health risks to your workers, particularly those hazards which could pose a risk to psychological illnesses for your workers. This week I want to speak with you a little bit about the management of health and safety risks and the steps you need to take to implement risk management practices. To manage risks, it’s a PCBU’s responsibility to identify the hazards which may potentially cause a risk to injury to their workers in the workplace, and then assess those risks and think about the likelihood of any consequences occurring which could pose an injury or illness to their workers’ health and safety. As Belinda discussed with you last week, when we’re talking hazards, we’re not just talking about the physical hazards which could result in physical injury, but also those that could impact a worker’s psychological health and safety. Once you’ve identified the risks in your business, you then need to consider the control measures you can implement to manage those risks. Asking employees to wear personal protective equipment is not a sufficient control measure in the first instance. Firstly, you should be considering whether or not you can eliminate the hazard within your business. If you can’t eliminate it, think of how you can implement measures to minimise the risk to health and safety. Once you’ve implemented control measures to eliminate any hazards or systems to minimise the risk to health and safety, you can then use personal protective equipment to protect employees from any residual hazards which may exist in the task they’re performing. In doing this, consulting with your workers is really important. Remember, they’re the people who are performing the tasks, so they may be aware of further hazards, which you have not thought about. Including them also in implementation of control measures results in them being more likely to utilise those control measures and for a successful risk management process to be implemented. So, this week of National Safe Work Month, take the time to consider whether or not you have implemented risk management processes for those hazards which exist within your business. Or if you’ve already done that, use the time to review the control measures which you’ve implemented to ensure that they’re still effective, to ensure health and safety of workers. If you find you need assistance in reviewing your safety systems or have any questions generally about work health and safety matters, please don’t hesitate to give a member of our workplace relations and safety team a call.