By Fizzah Usama

Managing the health and safety of your people can be an absolute nightmare for organisations who are unsure about their Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legal obligations.

Your workers may be exposed to any number of hazards depending on the type of roles and duties they have. These hazards in turn create risks or likelihood of harm including physical injuries such as sprains, broken bones or back injuries as well as psychological injuries such as stress, anxiety and depression.

So how do you minimise these risks and avoid liability?

You need to ensure your business is a safe work environment for your workers, and one of the ways you can do this is by implementing an adequate risk management procedure. So what’s involved in  risk management? Your business’s  leaders and managers need to have a clear understanding of the internal and external factors that have an influence on managing risks, consistent monitoring and review, as well as consultation with workers at all stages.

Does your business have an adequate risk management system that allows your workers to perform their jobs in a safe manner? If not, you could be exposing your business to civil penalties for contraventions of your WHS obligations.

The duty to ensure a safe work environment

Your business has a primary duty of care under the WHS legislation to safeguard both the physical and mental health of your workers. To properly discharge this duty, you are required to undertake comprehensive hazard and risk identification in relation to all job tasks. You should take all reasonably practicable steps to eliminate or where appropriate minimise risks to health and safety. This would also involve reviewing and improving the existing controls and safety protocols.

In order to avoid liability in the event of a workplace accident or incident, you must also be able to demonstrate that you have provided all your workers with relevant WHS training, facilitated the use of Personal Protective Equipment and have regularly monitored the health conditions of all workers to prevent illness or injury at the workplace.

The duty of due diligence

In addition to ensuring a safe work environment, WHS legislation imposes a positive duty of your officers to undertake a process of due diligence, and, to take proactive steps to ensure your business is WHS compliant.

This means that HR professionals and senior management may be held personally liable or be convicted of an offence, unless they’re able to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps in order to:

  • acquire and maintain knowledge of any applicable WHS legislation and WHS matters;
  • gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the organisation and relevant WHS hazards and risk associated with the operations;
  • ensure that the organisation has complied with its obligations and duty under the applicable WHS legislation and any specific regulations regarding safe work practices in that industry;
  • ensure that the organisation has appropriate policies and procedures in place to identify and respond to workplace hazards and risks; and
  • ensure that the organisation has made available for use and uses appropriate resources and processes for eliminate or minimise WHS risks.

How HR Assured can help

You’ll love the feeling you get when you’re on top of WHS – and the team at HR Assured can help you stay there. Our award-winning services including Telephone Advisory Service, WHS audit, WHS software (HRA Cloud), and insurance are all legally compliant and regularly updated by our parent company, FCB Group so your business can have peace of mind.

Have a question about WHS or the information in this article?

If you’re an HR Assured client, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.

Fizzah Usama is our Workplace Relations Consultant at HR Assured and FCB Group (our parent company). She advises and supports our clients with any workplace issues via the company’s Telephone Advisory Service.