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Safety Reporting; Legislation or Moral Obligation?

By: Doug Howard – National WHS Practice Leader

Safety Reporting; Legislation or Moral Obligation? (Last Updated On: August 30, 2017)

Risk register, safe work method statement (SWMS), job safety analysis, personal hazard analysis, tool box talk, behavior based observation, site inspection, workplace review, safety audit, joint health and safety committee, and the list goes on. How much reporting should be done? Is it about liability? Or, is it a moral obligation to keep people safe? Or is it both?

First and foremost, employers must keep workers safe; everyone needs to go home unharmed every day. An employer would be right to ask, “If we individually have that commitment, then why all the paperwork?” Despite the rapid uptake in workplace safety in recent years, there are some employers without a commitment to employee safety, which is arguably why legislated minimum requirements for safe practices came in.

In a court of law, if it isn’t documented, then it didn’t happen.

So, what does an employer document?

The first step is to plan for the work. Look at the potential risks, and how they can be minimised. Have a written procedure, and follow it. If conditions change, be quick to look at workplace controls and make adjustments. Having regular meetings will ensure all employees can review and understand the work being done, how it is to be carried out, and what safety controls are required. Again, document this has occurred, ensuring employees have signed the document indicating their agreement.

As productive as consultation with employees can be, it can also be a difficult process to manage, depending on work activities and agendas. However, not only is it something which will greatly improve workplace safety but consulting with workers is also required by law.

Importantly, allowing and encouraging documented feedback from employees, as well as making sure that everyone in the workplace has had an induction that is also documented, signed off on and understood is vital to proving compliance if ever required. Every employer should train, mentor and lead in all areas of safety.

Statistically, sites/workplaces that look after all of the above and make safety part of their culture will have fewer incidents, near misses, first aid incidents and ultimately, will minimise their workers from harm.

Employers should not see health and safety as a chore rather, as a necessary part of the culture to be promoted within the workplace or on the jobsite.

Doug Howard – National WHS Practice Leader

Doug Howard is a highly experienced health and safety specialist and is also experienced in employment relations. Doug has a great understanding of state based legislative requirements, he has specialist experience in work health and safety compliance in a portfolio of services ranging from environmental science, geotechnical engineering and project management within the public and private sectors. Doug commenced at Employsure in January 2015 and is now the National Work Health and Safety Practice Leader.

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