code of practice

A quick overview of health and safety penalty notices…

So, an Inspector might have recently paid a visit to your workplace and left you with some kind of ‘report’. Now, it’s likely that this report will be an Entry Report, Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice. But many businesses are often unsure about what these actually mean and what they need to do next. So, here’s some brief advice to start you off.

 

First of all, the Entry Report simply is a record of the visit. It advises that an inspector has been onsite, and advises the purpose of their visit.

 

Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices are different. These notices are issued when an Inspector identifies that there’s been a level of non-compliance with the health and safety laws. Note that these notices are not issued on a whim, or because the inspector simply thinks that your workplace could improve in some areas. They are serious. And, as such, they should be taken seriously because it is an offence not to comply with these.

 

Though the notices may vary slightly state to state, here’s a run down of these two types of notices and what they mean;

 

Improvement notices

These notices are issued when an Inspector believes that there is a safety issue that needs to be fixed within your workplace. These notices usually don’t prevent you from continuing business, as the issue is generally required to be resolved within a prescribed timeframe provided by the inspector. The inspector will generally revisit your site to ensure the required improvements have been made.

 

Prohibition notices

These ones are very serious. An Inspector will issue these if they believe there is a risk to your workers from‘an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard’ within the workplace. When these notices are issued you will need to stop all activity related to that hazard immediately until it is correctly managed. In some instances you may need to change the way you work moving forward as part of that management.

 

If you do receive one of these notices, do make sure that you fully understand what the notice has been issued for. If not, seek to clarify this with the Inspector, with legal counsel or with your regulator. If you don’t believe there is a breach, there is often an opportunity to place the notice under an internal review. However, be aware, there are often timeframes for such lodgment – so act fast. Once you understand the notice, make sure you plan to ensure that you have enough time to sufficiently correct the matter.

 

 

Now it goes without saying that there are always ways you can improve health and safety management in your workplace. So, if you are looking for solutions so that you can avoid receiving notices like the ones mentioned above again, check out how Safety Champion software can make things that much easier!

There’s no excuse to not know about safety

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.

 

What on earth does that mean, you ask? Well, this is the legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because they were unaware of its content.

 

So, this is the interesting thing about occupational health and safety. From a legal perspective, business owners and senior managers really do need to know about safety and that there’s really no excuse not to know.

 

What we know from experience working with countless businesses is that if safety is not your area of expertise, the whole concept often seems an incredible hassle. It’s so hard to figure out what to do about health and safety – especially for many small and medium sized businesses where you don’t have the luxury of hiring a specific person to fulfill this role.

 

But the fact remains that if you are a senior manager within any business, you really do need to know what your role is – in other words you must make sure that the people in your workplace are safe and healthy, and that the operations of your workplace do not impact the health and safety of people.

 

 

One case that is well known amongst safety professionals is one involving Owens Group. The CEO – who was based in New Zealand – oversaw 30 companies including Owens Container Services. Following an incident in Australia, the CEO was prosecuted for not appropriately managing workplace hazards that resulted in a fatality. His claim that he was working remotely, and that he had a team to manage safety meaning that he was not able to ‘influence the conduct of the business’ was simply not suitable. The CEO was found guilty. Read more about the case here.

 

From this example, it can clearly be seen that simply because a senior manager doesn’t have a hands-on role in operations does not mean they are absolved of the health and safety obligations. Senior management have the authority to seek the implementation of health and safety policies, and therefore should do so.

 

So, if anything unfortunate was to go wrong in your workplace, in the eyes of the law, you must be found to have taken all reasonable steps to best manage and mitigate the health and safety risks on behalf of your workers. The legislation has been in place for years, and supporting information every business owner needs to know is readily available. So, this means that the excuse of “I didn’t realise” doesn’t quite cut it. You’ll discover quite quickly that you ought to have known.

 

To help you out, here are three easy ways to learn more about your health and safety responsibilities, right now:

 

  1. Visit the Safe Work Australia website – it has a simple layout, search fields to help you find what you are looking for, and all the information you could possibly need is available there.
  2. Contact your state regulator. If you are not sure who this is follow this link. Visit their websites or call to find out more. Some of them even have industry-specific advice to give straight off the bat.
  3. Engage a consulting firm. Sometimes there can be a lot of jargon and complexity around what you need to do. So, cut straight to it and bring some professionals on board to guide you.

 

And like we always say – it’s not all doom and gloom! Safety doesn’t have to be hard to manage! Read up on our 3 C’s of effective health and safety management or our 5 easy things every workplace can do to manage foreseeable safety hazards blogs to make some quick and easy changes right now! Most importantly, try to ‘stack’ safety habits into already existing practices. For tips on how to do this, read our blog Try ‘stacking’ your habits… to prevent safety from falling over.

 

 

Otherwise, contact us to learn more about how Safety Champion can help. Safety Champion isn’t just software to manage an already established safety plan (like all of the others). Safety Champion gives you all the tools, manuals and professional health and safety advice you need, to suit the specific needs of your business.

 

Health and safety legislation – the basic explanation

With all the acronyms, authorities and legislation out there, health and safety legislation can be complicated for many businesses that don’t have dedicated specialist staff on board. It can be difficult to know exactly who to listen to and what to take note of for your business. So, we thought we’d give you a quick run down of health and safety in Australia so you know where to turn if you need to learn more.

 

In Australia, the requirement to legislate and regulate health and safety is a function of each individual state and territory. This means that it is state based law, not federal law such as the Fair Work Act 2009. So, the legislation you should be looking at for health and safety is dependant on your state. Here’s a nice clean list for you:

 

Because health and safety regulation is state-based, this is why the authorities have different names from state to state. It’s advisable that businesses are familiar with their relevant regulator and take their cues on health and safety from there. If you are confused about who your regulator is, here’s where you can find the current links to their websites from Action OHS Consulting.

 

Most of these guys have brilliant tools and information readily available to help you out – so head to their websites.

 

And what about Safe Work Australia? Who are they? Put simply, these guys are the national policy body responsible for researching and further developing health and safety strategies each state can adopt. Safe Work Australia is another excellent source of easily digestible information and advice for any business or employee needing to learn more.

 

And before we finish up, another common confusion point is about Worker Compensation. Be aware that Health and Safety Legislation is different to Workers Compensation Legislation. Health and Safety Legislation looks at establishing ways to prevent the accident and injury from occurring, while the Workers Compensation Legislation provides direction on how work related injuries should be managed.

 

So, if you need to learn more about health and safety in your business, familiarise yourself with the webpage of your relevant state based health and safety regulator. Again here’s that list. And then check out Safe Work Australia if you need to know more.

 

 

Still unsure or want to seek further clarification? Drop our team of health and safety professionals a line for more guidance and support specifically suited to your business needs.

 

Four ways to provide better support to your First Aid Officers

Many businesses these days have got some great OHS/WHS practices going on, realising the huge importance of keeping their employees healthy and safe.

 

It’s more and more common to see health and safety related posters up in workplace tearooms, clearly marked and fully stocked first aid kits, and appointed fire wardens and first aid officers.

 

Free safety promotion poster set for your work. Download now.

 

At Safety Champion, we think this is an awesome step forward!

 

We’re even starting to see businesses of only a few staff undertaking health and safety activities throughout the year, especially those taking advantage of useful safety management software like Safety Champion!

 

But of the more common activities we see, it’s having a First Aid Officer in place that businesses are pretty good at.

 

 

 

What to know about the First Aid Officer

 

It’s important to remember that businesses should not only appoint a First Aid Officer but also ensure they are trained and regularly skilled up in case one of those unfortunate incidents does occur.

 

Typically, First Aid Officers rarely use their ‘skills’. However, if something nasty happens in the workplace, it is important that they are confident and ready to respond.

 

 

Typically, First Aid Officers rarely use their ‘skills’. However if something nasty occurs in the workplace, it is important that they are confident and ready to respond.

 

 

Tips and ideas for supporting First Aiders

 

So, here are some easy, low-investment ideas that you can easily adopt to support the people who put up their hand to be the workplace First Aid Officer;

 

  1. Hold a quarterly or 6-monthly meeting with your first aid officers to review the incident reporting register and discuss how to manage any foreseeable scenarios. Consider having individual First Aid Officers review these scenarios – let’s say 2 or 3 scenarios each time you meet.
  2. Email some useful ‘how-to’ blogs and other related OHS/WHS articles to First Aid Officers to remind them of their training and to help them maintain confidence in their first aid skills. Like ours, for example!
  3. Print and display first aid safety posters. This will assist non-First Aid Officers build their interest and understanding of your first aid program. Our friends at Alsco have over 40 freely downloadable and print-ready posters for you to choose from; such as first aid signsfirst aid visual guide posters; and first aid posters.
  4. Provide your First Aid Officers with access to the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all hazardous chemicals that are available for use in your workplace. Consider collating the first aid information – and ensure that all first aid requirements are available. Again, you may look to review 2 or 3 chemicals each time you meet.

 

 

Get it on the agenda!

 

Only have one First Aid Officer? No problem! Add ‘first aid’ as an agenda item to your existing operational or ‘business as usual’ meetings – this can been routinely, it does not have to be at every one of these meetings.

 

The key is to make sure your First Aid Officer(s) remain trained with current practices. Oh and don’t forget to keep that first aid kit stocked and ready.

 

We know that managing health and safety in the workplace can seem hard and complicated. Watch this video to see how Safety Champion Software can help simplify the whole thing for you.

 

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For more detail about first aid take a look at the Code of Practices for Victoria and all other states. And here are some more docs about managing the working environment: 

 

 

Tips for safer manual handling practices in your workplace

Think about the last time you lifted an object that was heavier or more awkward than you realised.

 

You might feel pretty sure that you didn’t injure yourself when you moved it, but don’t let this fool you. Actually, incorrect lifting practices can lead to chronic or ongoing problems whether you feel it at the time or not.

 

From a health and safety perspective in the workplace, this is an important consideration for employers and managers. It means that not only may you be liable for any immediate injuries to your workers caused by poor manual handling practices, but also the oftentimes ‘hidden’ injuries that may be sustained over time.

 

Get your free manual handling safety promotion poster

 

 

The reality is that it is more than common that manual handling – any activity that requires effort to lift, move, push, pull, carry, hold or restrain any object – isn’t managed as well as it could be in most workplaces.

 

 

Body stressing and manual handling accounts for 40% of all workers compensation claims with an average cost per case of AUD$115,780.

 

 

Industries like the retail sector – where associated risks and hazards are higher due to the nature of the business – need to be particularly aware. Workers regularly lift and move stock around from storeroom to display to customers, increasing risks.

 

 

What don’t you know about manual handling?

 

Whilst most managers and workers understand safe lifting principles like “bend you knees” and “keep your back straight,” effective management of manual handling in the workplace extends past this.

 

It is also about the layout of your display and storeroom spaces. It’s about using the best operational practices possible to reduce the risks. And it’s also about encouraging all lifting to happen with the low risk zone (see the picture below).

 

Here are two simple things to consider to assist you in reducing the risks and hazards to your workers;

 

Weight of the products.

Lighter items should be placed on higher shelves. Heavier items should be placed on shelves between shoulder and mid-thigh height, ideally at waist height.

This said, regularly accessed items should be stored, shoulder and mid-thigh height, with infrequently accessed stock outside of this zone.

 

Height of the products.

When unpacking stock from boxes, identify ways that this can be done at hip height. To enable easy reach, products on the top shelves should not be stacked on top of each other.

Change the size or weight of packaging by breaking down large loads into smaller ones, and finding out if stock is available in smaller sizes. Smaller loads can be lifted and handled more easily.

safety champion software advice for better manual handling practices in the workplace

 

 

How to start with better practices today

So, you can see that ensuring of the health and safety of your workers with regard to lifting and moving stock around doesn’t have to be overly complex. It can be as simple as reorganising your spaces, providing trolleys or step ladders to help, or even just considering how you can reduce double or triple handling of stock on a day-to-day basis.

 

Maybe start by getting your team together to discuss how you can create the safest manual handling practices in your workplace.

 

Remember that it’s your workers who will likely be the first to notice any difficulties, and they are probably the ones to have some great ideas for how you can improve procedures and tasks to support a healthy and safe workplace for all.

 

 

Learn about our free software to help you manage safety better.

 

 

If you would like some help about holding an internal meeting to discuss manual handling at your workplace, here’s a handy Manual Handling Toolbox Talk to help you out. To learn more about what you can do, here’s the Code of Practice: Hazardous Manual Tasks to guide you.