Are your SOP’s still current?

Any document that is developed as part of a safety management system should be reviewed to ensure that is remains consistent with the legislative requirements. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) should be reviewed at least annually to ensure they accurately reflect the task as it is undertaken, and that it identifies and manages all foreseeable risks associated with the task. If the equipment or the work environment where the SOP is undertaken changes, new plant is introduced, or legislation changes occur relating to the task, then the SOP must be reviewed as soon as possible after the change has occurred. Review your documents regularly to keep them accurate and relevant for your staff.

Contractors and their employees are now defined as workers and you may have responsibilities!

This is not a new requirement of Health and Safety but a more detailed outline of the shared duties of persons in a workplace. As these persons begin work in your organisation you could ask yourself “Have you done all that is reasonably practical in relation to ensuring the health and safety of these persons?”

Do you know what a “Code of Practice” is?

Codes of Practice provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards set out in the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations. Codes of Practice are admissible in proceedings as evidence of whether or not a duty under the WHS laws has been met. They can also be referred to by an inspector when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.

It is recognised that equivalent or better ways of achieving the required work health and safety outcomes may be possible. For that reason compliance with Codes of Practice is not mandatory providing that any other method used provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than suggested by the Code of Practice.

 

Incident Notification – a near miss carries the same weight as an injury!

Incident notifications to the Regulator are required for a number of notifiable situations being the death of a person, a serious injury or illness of a person; or a dangerous incident. Dangerous incidents are prescribed events that expose a worker or any other person to a serious risk to a person’s health or safety. No actual injury need occur. These near miss situations must be reported.

Under the new Work Health and Safety Act, it is no longer necessary for a person to be killed to receive exposure to the maximum penalty available.  A Category 1 offence (criminal offence with the maximum penalties) occurs when a duty holder, without reasonable excuse, engages in conduct that recklessly exposes a person to a risk of death or serious injury or illness. Hence, no injury has to have occurred!!

Do you know when you must prepare a Safe Work Method Statement?

Persons who are to complete a number of activities that relate to high risk construction work, must develop a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS). Refer  WHS Regs s291

The SWMS must state:

  • the hazards relating to the high risk construction work and risks to health and safety associated with those hazards; and
  • describe the measures to be implemented to control the risks; and
  • describe how the control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed.

The document must be prepared taking into account all relevant matters including:

  • circumstances at the workplace that may affect the way in which the high risk construction work is carried out; and
  • if the high risk construction work is carried out in connection with a construction project—the WHS management plan that has been prepared for the workplace; and
  • be set out and expressed in a way that is readily accessible and understandable to persons who use it.

If you manufacture or import chemicals, have you updated all your Safety Data Sheets to comply with the new classification system?

Australia is progressing to a new classification system developed by the United Nations. This system is presently in place across a number of countries and is planned for implementation in Australia by January 2017. Manufacturers and importers should be commencing the implementation process of this change to ensure that their safety data sheets and other labelling will be consistent before this date.

Was your workplace built before 2004? Do you have an Asbestos Management Register Plan?

If the workplace is a building that was constructed after 31 December 2003; and no asbestos has been identified at the workplace; and no asbestos is likely to be present at the workplace from time to time, there is no need to have a register. Buildings that fall outside this requirement must still either state the location, type, condition of the asbestos or state that no asbestos or ACM is identified at the workplace.

Do you realise that if you pour a chemical into a container and then head off to lunch, you may have broken the law?

Decanted Hazardous Chemicals must be labelled unless the chemical is used immediately after it is put in the container. In addition, the container must be thoroughly cleaned immediately after the hazardous chemical is used, handled or stored so that the container is in the condition it would be in if it had never contained the hazardous chemical.

If you use methylated spirits to clean your copier, does this need to be included in your Hazardous Chemicals Register?

Chemicals which are generally for domestic use and considered safe in the home may present greater risks in the workplace depending on the manner and quantities in which they are used. This is particularly relevant, for example, where domestic cleaning chemicals are purchased from a supermarket and used in a workplace environment. You should always follow label directions. However, if you are using a domestic chemical in a manner different to normal household use, you should also obtain the SDS in order to determine the level of risks to workers and the appropriate controls. The SDS should contain more detailed information on hazards and risks, for example on incompatibilities with other chemicals and risks from use in enclosed areas.

Hence, if the chemical is a domestic chemical used for a domestic purpose i.e. dish washer chemical, then an SDS is not required and it does not need to be included in the register. For the methylated spirits however, it’s use is commercial and therefore an SDS would be required and it needs to be included in the Register. Refer WHS Regulations s344 (4).

Do you know your duty of disclosure if you are selling second-hand plant?

As a seller of second hand plant you must ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, that any faults in the plant have been identified. The seller must then ensure that the person to whom the plant is supplied is given written notice:

(a) of the condition of the plant; and
(b) of any faults identified under subsection (1); and
(c) if appropriate, that the plant should not be used until the faults are rectified.

This requirement does not apply to plant to be used for scrap or spare parts. In this instance the supplier of plant to be used for scrap or spare parts must, before the plant is supplied, inform the person to whom the plant is supplied, either in writing or by marking the plant, that the plant is being supplied for scrap or spare parts and that the plant in its current form is not to be used as plant.