Workers also have duties under the WHSA

In a recent tragic incident a worker was fatally injured when a co-worker drove with his raised forklift into the other worker.

The company had a system in place to ensure that workers were competent to operate and not just holding a ‘ticket’. Training included ensuring traveling with the forklift raised no higher than 30cm. The worker had completed a Competency to Operate (CTO) training and was warned on previous occasions as to this dangerous act.

Companies need to ensure that workers are competent to operate plant and need to set and uphold standards of operation. Even to the point of enforcement and where required as a last option dismissal. Workers need to be told that they have this duty and that the Company is not always in the wrong.

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.

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.

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).

How long do you need to keep training records?

training-records-retention
Records of any sort offer a level of proof of a particular event occurring and are used in both common and statute law cases as a defence to a claim or a charge. The legislation details some mandatory record retention times such as 2 years for confined space training, however as a general rule, training records should be kept for the full term of employment of the worker. As a common law claim can occur 3 years from the time of the incident, it is also prudent to maintain the records for a minimum of 3 years after a worker has ceased working for the employer.

What are adequate first aid facilities?

This is a subjective requirement best dealt with following a risk assessment and deciding on what is reasonably practical in the given situation. Factors to consider in determining your first aid requirements include the size, layout, location and type of work conducted at the workplace. For example, Office workers may only need access to band aids and cold compresses where a maintenance workshop would include many additional bandages and first aid equipment.