WHS

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!

Free upcoming OHS seminar for small businesses | 22 August in Melbourne

It’s no secret – to you or us – that many small businesses are overwhelmed and confused by health and safety rules and regulations. Where to start… what do to… why it’s even important. But thankfully our friends at Action OHS Consulting are running a great free seminar to put this all into place for you and tell you everything you to know about OHS/WHS as a small business owner.

 

OHS for SMEs Seminar

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

10am to 11am

Donkey Wheel House

673 Bourke Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

 

As part of the Small Business Victoria Festival, this workplace health and safety seminar will be specifically catered to small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). It will provide business owners and managers with a simple overview of the legal and moral OHS responsibilities, and will cover how these can be effectively, and practically, managed within existing ‘business as usual’ activities.

 

With small business accounting for 96% of all Victorian businesses, there is clearly a need for small business owners to understand what the OHS legislation means for business. However, it’s important to note that OHS legislation can be incredibly complex to understand and to apply to a small business workplace setting. This seminar will remove block and help you understand just what you need to know without complicating things.

 

“Too many small businesses find health and safety hard, as they try to replicate what big businesses do. Instead, they should be focusing on what they can do – and what’s appropriate for their specific workplace.”

Craig Salter, Managing Director at Action OHS Consulting.

 

If you are interested in attending this workshop please register here. Excitingly, all participants will be given the opportunity to apply for a free safety review to help them kick start better health and safety management. And don’t forget to check out more of the sessions, workshops and talks that are on at the festival. It looks like a great line-up!

 

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.

 

What is the difference between all those health and safety acronyms anyway?

A lot of our new clients come to us and say a similar thing. “I just got confused with all those health and safety acronyms! OHS, OSH, WHS or even WOSH… they all look the same, but are they?”

 

Commonly, businesses just don’t know why there are so many letters in different combinations, and what they actually mean for their business.

 

“I just got confused with all those health and safety acronyms! OHS, OSH, WHS or even WOSH… they all look the same, but are they?”

 

The fact is that the reason they seem the same, is because… you guessed it, they are. The variation in terminology is generally a result from how the health and safety legislation is titled in each Australian state, or the body that regulates the implementation of that legislation.

 

 

The common safety acronyms explained

Here’s a few of the common ones you see around explained:

 

  • WHS: In all Australian stated (other than VIC and WA), you will see people referring to WHS – Workplace Health and Safety due to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 or Work Health and Safety Act 2012
  • OHS: In Victoria you will see people referring to OHS – Occupational Health and Safety due to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • OSH: In WA you will see people referring to OSH – Occupational Safety and Health due to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
  • HSW: In Great Britain and New Zealand you will see people referring to HSW [Health and Safety] due to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and 2015 respectively.
  • HSE: In Great Britain, you may also see people referring to safety as HSE – this is in reference to their regulator Health and Safety Executive.
  • OSHA: This referencing of the regulator also holds true in the USA. People referring to safety as OSHA aligning with the regulator: Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • EHS: This time, adding the E in there means “Environment”. This adds a layer of environmental considerations to workplace health and safety.

 

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

 

Put simply, these safety acronyms mean exactly the same thing. They guide businesses to make a commitment to establish a workplace where a worker will leave work with the same physical and mental health that they presented to work with.

 

 

Onwards and upwards – getting safety moving

So if you use the terminology interchangeably, this really isn’t an issue. If you do get corrected by some smarty pants, point out that maybe they should be more concerned with the goal of keeping workers safe and healthy in the workplace, and less concerned about technicality and semantics.

 

 

These acronyms often just serve to make workplace health and safety seem even more complex that it already seems to people. So, we say, put the acronym aside for the moment, and just focus on what’s important.

 

And it’s this. All of this, all these acronyms, are simply about one thing: How can we make workplaces safer so that no one is hurt at work!

 

Sign up to our free safety management software today.

 


Alright that’s it from us – be sure to check out our other blogs for more useful information about safety. Try these ones next:

Health and safety legislation – the basic explanation

Why you should pay attention to prosecutions data

How you can identify the common injury hotspots in your industry?

One of the most difficult parts of business is managing your legal OHS and WHS obligations. Your business has responsibilities to both know and manage the ‘common’ health and safety hazards that are specific to your industry. But this means that you need to be proactive in identifying foreseeable hazards. It is only when you identify what could go wrong that you can actually prevent nasty things from occurring by planning and implementing strategies to avoid them.

 

For example, in the retail sector repetitive work, excessive carrying and lifting, or awkward postures are common causes of back and shoulder injuries. But, businesses must first know that poor manual handling practices like these commonly lead to injury, before they can develop strategies to manage the risk. So how do you know what is ‘foreseeable’ when you are not exactly an occupational health and safety expert?

 

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

“I’m no OHS expert, how do I know what the ‘common’ OHS hazards are in my industry?”

 

Well, we are glad you asked! WorkSafe Victoria has this fantastic, freely available online tool that will tell you exactly which health and safety risks you should look out for in your workplace. They have even provided some great practical solutions for mitigating these risks. And some of these are so easy you can start implementing them today.

 

 

It’s called Injury Hotspots. Just type in your industry and then click on the body parts to read about common hazards and the practical solutions that you can adopt to avoid these hazards from occurring. The site also gives you links to all the official health and safety legislation documentation that you might need to learn more.

 

Now we think this is an incredibly useful tool for any business owner or team manager who is responsible for protecting the health and safety of their workers. So, why not jump online today and explore more about what you should be looking out for?

 

After you’ve learned a little more about the hazards in your industry, now you are ready to implement strategies to mitigate the risks. Read more about how to develop and achieve your health and safety targets and objectives. In addition, contact us to learn more about how our software can help your business keep managing OHS in your business nice and simple.

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: 

 

 

What on earth did we do before MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks?

It wasn’t actually so long ago that many small to medium sized businesses were still shuffling invoices and receipts around a desk, and filing them away in cumbersome binders waiting for tax time. But thinking about it now, how on earth did we do that?! Where would your business be now without the convenience and ease of software like MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks?

 

Whilst accounting has now become that much easier to handle in the workplace – even for the lay person – the same will soon be true for health and safety management. In the very near future it will be difficult to believe that once upon a time we were still manually recording health and safety checks, hand writing incident reports and maintaining registers in messy shared spreadsheets. The beautiful thing is that this ‘easier way of the future’ for health and safety is actually already here.

 

More and more businesses are starting to pick up on this. One of our clients who recently rolled over to our cloud-based health and safety software, reported immediate improvements to workplace safety culture. They told us that the software assisted them to think about incident prevention often and early, and before any unfortunate accidents might occur.

 

What other benefits do users of OHS or WHS software software find? And why do businesses need it? Well, here are the four main benefits that we are hearing from our clients:

 

  1. It allows for greater oversight by management.
  2. It produces accurate and consistent reporting and information.
  3. It makes information and reporting easily accessible.
  4. It promotes a safety-first culture, which ultimately keeps us safer!

 

So, just as MYOB changed the way accounting was done by providing a user-friendly product that simplified the complexity of accounting, OHS or WHS Software or Safety Management Software Systems (however you like to call it!) like Safety Champion do the same for health and safety management.

So, why not take a product tour today? Or read more about the benefits of going paperless.

 

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. 

 

Do you have young, first-time workers on board?

Last year, WorkSafe Victoria ran a brilliant public campaign to build awareness about the vulnerability of young people to workplace injury – especially those working in the retail, construction, hospitality and manufacturing industries. Why are they especially vulnerable? Well, it’s simply because they lack the experience, foresight and maturity to know when they may be putting themselves or others at risk.

 

So, what do you need to do to manage your duty regarding OHS for the first-time workers that you have on board in your workplace? Well, think about it from the perspective of sales and customer service. When new employees first start you give them training and guidance about things like the products you have available, how to help customers find what they need, and how to use the cash register, right? Well, it’s the same for health and safety… they need training and guidance.

 

Since, they’ve never been in a workplace before, they probably don’t know the first thing about the concept of health and safety. Maybe they’ve seen the acronyms OHS, WHS, OSH or WOHS, but don’t know what it means to them. So, start at the beginning. Ensure that health and safety has a prominent position in your induction and initial training sessions. Ensure your new workers know the health and safety procedures, how to use your equipment, what the right safety gear is to use, and importantly make it explicitly clear that they know who to talk to if they have a question about health and safety.

 

Nominating a supervisor or a buddy who can provide day-to-day advice and closely monitor young workers is important. And so is encouraging young people to ask for advice from that person and speak up if they feel something is dangerous, or are unsure. Sure, they may not be experts in hazard identification and risk management, but most of us, even your young workers have that special sense that alters us if something looks dodgy or dangerous to staff or customers. So, reassure them that they can question procedures and tasks if they think there is a risk to their safety and health. They simply need to feel comfortable to raise the issue with their supervisor so that you can together determine next steps.

 

What we love about the WorkSafe Victoria campaign is that it encourages young people to be aware of their role in health and safety in the workplace. After all, a healthy and safe workplace is one that actively involves everyone from senior management all the way through to your newest and youngest staff members.

 

So, why not try using these videos to open up communication with your young workers about health and safety in your workplace today.

Three questions you need to ask to positively lead mental wellbeing discussions in your workplace

The Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration Business Leaders Breakfast was held on 7 March 2017. We were keen to be there, so arrived promptly at 7am, with coffee in hand, of course.

Mental wellbeing is a hazard that most workplaces are nervous to engage in conversation about and as OHS professionals we definitely get that. Unlike a broken bone or laceration, a mental health injury isn’t always noticeable, which can make it hard to manage. This said, as mental health becomes better understood and more accepted as a health hazard in the community, awareness of the positive benefits associated with mental wellbeing are becoming more and more prominent in a workplace. The great thing about awareness is that it provides workplaces with an entry point to start conversations with their workers.

 

How would you assist a worker who came to you with a mental wellbeing issue, or advised you that they were struggling or needed support?

How to manage such a situation was one of our team’s main take-aways from this breakfast. And the good news is that once discussed in the open, it felt as easy as A, B, C.

To facilitate tangible and positive outcomes as a manager, it is crucial that rather than talk, you listen. Frame your conversation with your worker around the following three questions:

  1. What is it that you need to do your job and to go home every day with energy to enjoy the life you live?
  2. What are you going to do differently to support your wellbeing in the workplace?
  3. If I see that you are struggling or not performing, how would you like me to approach you? Tell me the exact words do you want me to use.

 

Now, more than ever, it is important for workplaces have the confidence and the skills to manage mental wellbeing issues when they arise in the workplace.

So keep these questions at hand. Practice the conversation with your peers and seniors. Get comfortable and be prepared. If you can effectively create an open and supportive space for your workers to feel confident to speak about their pressures and worries, you will have a much better chance of addressing the issue and protecting the health and safety of your workers. And this will result in positive outcomes for your worker, yourself and your business.

Over the coming months, we’ll be providing more ideas and thoughts on ways that you can improve your capability to promote and manage positive mental wellbeing in your workplace. Stay tuned for more from us.

 

The Leaders Breakfast was headlined by Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director for the Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, and Chair of the technical committee for the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.