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Workplace Health and SafetyDecember 17, 2015
Research shows that managing work health and safety constitutes good business practice. It can reduce insurance premiums, sickness, the costs of training replacement employees and can result in high employee retention and morale.
Employsure explains 7 things every employer should know about health and safety in their workplace. Aside from this, it is very important to ensure you are compliant with legislative requirements.
1. Accident investigation
Accidents do happen, it is imperative that employers take safety seriously and are responsible for conducting thorough and lawful investigations should any injury or accident occur. The employer must review the incident to discover whether there are appropriate steps that can be taken to prevent the accident from happening again. A serious injury or risk to workplace and/ or equipment will require a more in depth investigation.
Conducting investigations properly can protect employers from a worker’s compensation claim further down the track. If you are not aware, worker compensation law allows employees to make an injury claim months or even years after an accident occurs at work. Therefore if an employer always keeps precise and up to date records, it will be easier to defend against a claim.
Employers must also inform the authorities of certain incidents. This includes death, hospitalisation or any other serious injury that occurs at work. If your accident report is through, it will help show the authorities how you actively promote health and safety in your workplace.
2. Records of accidents
Employers must keep accurate and up to date records of all workplace accidents. This is often referred to as a register of injuries and must be available at all times. Records must include full name of the injured person, the date and time of the injury, brief description of the accident, the cause and where the accident occurred.
Any persons injured at work must be recorded in the register of injuries. This includes direct workers, agency employees, contractors and customers or visitors.
The requirement to record all accidents is subject to the work health and safety legislation of the particular state where the business is located.
3. Competent person
The term competent person refers to someone who has the ability to identify existing and predictable hazards in the workplace which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees and who has authorisation to take corrective measures to eliminate them.
This person should have the appropriate level of training, qualifications or experience to identify workplace hazards. A competent person needs to not only recognize hazards, but be in a position to mitigate them. Whilst it is possible to have the one person who is competent in many tasks, a workplace can also have multiple competent people for several different tasks.
4. Home working
Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees who work from home. The same work health and safety rules apply as office based staff.
If an employee is required to work from home, employers must ensure that a risk assessment is carried out of the home office to identify any potential hazards or safety risks such as trailing power cords or cables.
A home worker’s desk, chair, keyboard and office space must be assessed to ensure all are ergonomically sound.
The employer should always keep a comprehensive policy on working from home arrangements. This policy needs to ensure that employees working from home report any health and safety concerns or incidents and allows the employer to periodically review their home working.
5. Lone / remote workers
Lone workers are employees who undertake their work duties without direct or close supervision. Some lone workers such as drivers, surveyors or care workers will work away from their employer’s base whilst other will work onsite but in isolated conditions.
Lone workers are more at risk due to the nature and insolation of their work.
Risks may include:
– lone workers’ unfamiliarity with the risks of a remote worksite
– adoption of unsafe practices because they have no supervision
– manual handling of tools and equipment between vehicle and workplace or during deliveries
– the inability to get help or advice in the case of sudden illness, accident or other emergency.
Employers need to ensure they take appropriate steps to reduce the risks to their lone workers.
These may include:
– training workers fully in the risks of lone working and how to undertake a risk assessment of the work location
– setting up a system of routine communication with the lone worker
– identifying potentially violent situations
– providing effective emergency procedures.
6. Manual handling
Manual handling is a common cause of injury in many types of businesses and can sometimes lead to permanent disability and expensive compensation claims.
Manual handling is defined as work that includes pushing, pulling or using other bodily force to lift and carry loads. The most common types of injuries associated with manual handling are lower back pains, neck pain, or damage to the elbow, wrist and fingers. These injuries can be a result of lifting a heavy or unbalanced load only once, or from continually lifting a heavy or unbalanced load.
When an employer assesses any manual handling, they must always consider the task and the, individual required to perform that task, as well as the load and environment. Employers have a responsibly to reduce manual handling where possible or to reduce the amount of manual handling required. Employers can do this by introducing mechanical aids and ensuring employees are trained in correct lifting and bending techniques.
7. Staff amenities and bathrooms
Work health and safety law states that all employees need adequate breaks to use staff amenities. These facilities must be within reasonable distance from the work area and include bathrooms, an eating area, a changing room, storage or shower. However if there are reasonable facilities available nearby (in the same building for example), then employees may use these.