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Managing risks in the workplace
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act) Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) have a primary duty to manage risks to health and safety. This duty is placed on employers, the self-employed, principal contractors, persons with management or control of a workplace, and designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant, substances or structures that are used for work.
This duty applies to all types of work and all workplaces covered by the WHS Act.
The WHS Act and Regulations require persons who have a duty to ensure health and safety, to manage risks by eliminating health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable, and if it is not reasonably practicable to do so to minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
Efficient management of work health and safety risks within a workplace is achieved through a systematic approach. An effective system can be broken down into five key elements.
In the context of work health and safety, governance is the organisational framework, procedures, policies and processes within which a body manages the performance of its work health and safety duties, functions and operations at a strategic level. Under the governance pillar a PCBU will address the development of organisational work health and safety policies, will define key WHS roles and responsibilities, address consultation obligations and define arrangements for working with Comcare. Organisational workplace safety culture is also explained within this category.
In the context of work health and safety prevention is better than a cure. The prevention element of an effective system provides initiatives which an organisation implements to ensure compliance with its work health and safety obligations and to prevent the introduction of hazards into the workplace. Specific information is provided on developing hazard specific policies and procedures, health and safety in design, safety data analysis, WHS audit, WHS training and education, WHS within procurement, WHS inspection testing and health monitoring, and internal hazard reporting arrangements.
Where a safety incident has occurred an organisation must implement steps to resolve the hazard which caused the incident and implement changes to prevent the incident from recurring. Information on incident investigation, incident notification requirements, emergency preparedness and response, including first aid policies and procedures can be found within this element.
Effective risk and hazard management methodology enables an organisation to identify hazards which pose a risk to its workers and resolve those before they cause injury or illness. This element explores risk management methodology and outlines the process for the identification of hazards within the workplace. Risk, remedy, and resources are provided for specific hazards identified within the WHS act, Regulations and codes of practice.
Where an incident has occurred which has resulted in the injury of a worker the employer has responsibilities under both the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) and WHS Act. These responsibilities are usually addressed under a rehabilitation management system. A rehabilitation management system will usually include an organisational structure, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes, and resources, for managing workplace injury or illness.