Did you know that the maximum penalty for safety non-compliance is $3 million for a corporation, $600,000 and/or five years imprisonment for an Officer, and $300,000 and/or five years imprisonment for a worker or others? Let alone your morale obligation to ensure all your people are safe at work and go home in the same condition they arrived in. Plus, there are significant proven business benefits in creating a safe and healthy workplace – the physical environment and the culture, such as lower levels of absenteeism and higher productivity.
As a Director of your company you are an “Officer” under work health and safety legislation so you need ensure the business has arrangements in place to comply with legal obligations. This means that you must:
- Acquire and keep up to date knowledge of work health and safety matters
- Understand the operations of the business and the hazards and risks involved
- Ensure appropriate resources and processes are provided to enable hazards to be identified and risks to be eliminated or minimised
- Ensure information regarding incidents, hazards and risks is received and the information is responded to in a timely way
- Ensure the business has, and implements, processes for complying with any legal duty or obligation
- Verify the provision and use of resources and processes.
5 steps to safety compliance
To meet your obligations outlined above, I recommend you follow the below steps:
- Establish a Business WHS Risk Profile – A critical aspect of a compliant WHS management system is identifying, assessing and controlling hazards and risks associated with business activities. It is recommended that a business risk profile be developed to better understand, quantify and identify actual risk exposure so that your WHS system is specifically targeted to suit your business risks and needs.
- Review and Update the WHS System – Review and amend your existing WHS system, taking into consideration what you discovered through the development of the business risk profile. The aim is to ensure compliance to legislative requirements and worker-friendly system that is easily accessible and understood by all workers, including contractors if applicable.
- WHS CEO Commitment – To demonstrate leadership and commitment to creating a safe workplace culture and to communicate general WHS responsibilities it is recommended that a short and concise policy document be developed and signed by your as the business owner/CEO. The signed policy should be displayed and communicated to all workers and included on your website.
- Consultation – Consult with your workers on the Business Risk Profile and WHS Management System. Consultation is a key feature of the WHS legislation.
- Safety Training – Induct and provide ongoing training to your team around high priority WHS requirements, and identify role/function specific training needs. Identify who is an Officer under the legislation and train them in their general WHS requirements including their responsibilities.
Claire Harrison is the Managing Director of Harrison Human Resources, a HR and work health and safety consulting business. Claire is also the author of The CEO Secret Guide to Managing and Motivating Employees.