Work health and safety (WHS) is a key responsibility for every business. As a small business owner and operator, you are responsible for making your business safe by ensuring WHS is part of your business planning. Improved workplace health and safety enhances your bottom line and helps make your business more successful.
In Australia, there are legal requirements that you must comply with to ensure your workplace meets WHS obligations. Running a business is on its own hard enough and the thought of having a health and safety management system in place can be overwhelming. And although it may cost you to introduce safe practices and implement safety systems in your business, complying with WHS requirements can help you improve efficiency and productivity, and assist in avoiding fines and penalties.
For many small businesses, all you need is just a few procedures to safeguard employee health and safety.
What to consider when applying WHS for small business
In Australia, businesses have the primary duty of care for WHS. PCBUs (persons conducting a business undertaking) must ensure the health and safety of workers so as far as is reasonably practicable. Business owners are required to exercise due diligence and make sure the PCBU complies with its health and safety obligations. This includes making sure there are appropriate practices or systems of work in place as well as actively monitoring and evaluating health and safety at the workplace.
The law requires you to implement a health and safety policy in your workplace as soon as you start your business. You need to be aware of your health and safety responsibilities and identify and control workplace hazards ensuring that your business doesn’t pose health and safety issues to your employees or the public. Workplace health and safety obligations to small businesses include;
1. The provision of a suitable working environment
Small business owners have a vital role to play when it comes to workplace safety. When workers know their employer places high importance on WHS they are more likely to be motivated to follow safety procedures and raise safety issues. Workplace health and safety calls for safety leadership in small businesses. As a safety leader, you should commit to safety, get involved, encourage participation and make WHS part of your business by continuously reviewing your WHS performance.
You are obligated to assess risks and implement appropriate control. If you support and encourage positive workplace health and safety practices, over time you will improve the safety culture in your business. A positive culture can help you achieve your WHS goals and avoid costly incidents and injuries.
2. Workers’ compensation insurance
Small businesses are required to have insurance and workers compensation insurance for employees. This generally covers payments to workers for any lost wages if they are unable to work due to an injury or ill health, as well as medical costs and rehabilitation expenses to help them return to work as soon as possible. Each state and territory in Australia has their own unique workers’ compensation scheme.
3. The provision of safe work facilities
Small business should provide safe work premises, ensure work equipment and machinery are safe. In addition, WHS regulations require business owners to regularly assess the workplace layout and provide safe systems of work.
Your legal obligations may vary according to circumstances and industry. However, it’s important that your health and safety management system fits your workplace. This includes the size of your business, the type of work that you do and the workers that are working for you.
At Recovery Partners, we can help you improve your personal and business practices ensuring compliance with the WHS regulations in your state or territory. Our WHS experts will assess your business’s WHS and provide you with a Safety Action Plan outlining the issues that need to be addressed and the steps to take.
Our services are available in multiple locations nationwide. For more information, you can make enquiries here.
Alternatively, our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789).
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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