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What does a safe system of work mean?

What does a safe system of work mean? (Last Updated On: July 4, 2017)

In 2014, there were approximately 106,000 serious claims made by employees who were injured in their workplace. This is why it is imperative for employers to ensure they have a safe system of work.

A safe system of work is the procedures or processes you should have in place to eliminate or minimise the risks involved in your workplace operations.

As a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), it is your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace, as far as is reasonably practicable, for your workers. The best way to do this is by conducting a risk assessment of your business and consulting with your employees.

Risk assessments.

A risk assessment assists with building your knowledge and understanding of hazards and risks in your workplace, so decisions can be made on how best to eliminate or control them. The goal of a risk assessment is to either remove a hazard or reduce the chances of it occurring by adding precautionary or control measures. By doing so, you are creating a safer and healthier working environment.

Risk assessments are highly important as they assist to:

• create awareness of hazards and risks
• identify who may be at risk
• determine whether there are existing and adequate control measures in place, or if more needs to be done

A risk assessment involves:

•  identifying what level of injury or harm could occur
• determining how the injury or harm could occur
• assessing the likelihood that the injury or harm will occur

Consultations.

A PCBU must consult, as far as is reasonably practicable, with workers for the business or undertaking who are likely to be directly affected by a health and safety matter within in the workplace. Health and safety consultation is required when identifying hazards, assessing risks and deciding on the best practice to control them.

The duty to consult with your workers is based on the acknowledgement that worker input and participation raises risk awareness and helps to minimise work related injuries or health threats.

Consultation with your workers is an essential part of managing health and safety within a workplace. A safe working environment is much more achievable when all workers are in communication regarding how to identify and appropriately respond to risks.

By involving your workers and requesting their input, more informed decisions can be made regarding how work and duties should be carried out.

Work health and safety consultation with workers should be conducted when:

• introducing new equipment into the workplace
• proposing changes which may affect the health and safety of workers
• identifying hazards and risks which may result from the work being carried out
• making informed decisions on the best way to minimise or eliminate risks and hazards which have been identified

What is considered ‘reasonably practicable’?

As mentioned above, a PCBU is required under state and territory law to provide and maintain a safe working environment, as far as is reasonably practicable. In simple terms, reasonably practicable means what could reasonably be done at a particular time to ensure health and safety measures are in place.

Employsure is Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist. If you have any questions regarding safe systems of work for your business, contact Employsure on 1300 651 415. Our team of specialised Work Health and Safety Consultants can assist you in ensuring your workplace is a safe one.

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