July 04, 2017/ News
Workplace Health and Safety, formerly known as Occupational Health and Safety, refers to the laws, regulations, and codes of practice concerned with protecting the health and wellbeing of all parties in a workplace. The responsibility of assessing, mitigating and reporting any potential workplace risks, dangers, and hazards, mainly falls on the employer or the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU). However, employees are also obligated to comply with instructions regarding Workplace Health and Safety regulations and act in a way that maintains their own safety, as well as the safety of their co-workers. The purpose of Workplace Health and Safety, is to promote the creation of a professional environment that safeguards the health and well-being of all workers, and all potential stakeholders that may be affected by work activities.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Vs. Workplace Health and Safety (WHS)
Some of you may be wondering what exactly is the difference between Occupational Health and Safety and Workplace Health and Safety. To summarise it briefly, the general purpose of both OHS and WHS, which is to help ensure the safety and well-being of any party affected by workplace activities, is the same. However, Workplace Health and Safety is a more streamlined and universally applicable approach to Occupational Health and Safety regulations.
Prior to 2012, Occupational Health and Safety regulations differed between states and territories. The inconsistencies in workplace safety regulations had the potential to be confusing in terms of how they will be applied, which regulations are relevant, what is covered and where, and so on. In order to achieve greater uniformity in the Occupational Health and Safety regulations of the different states and territories, Safe Work Australia (an Australian government statutory body) developed 'model' WHS laws to be implemented across Australia. The model Workplace Health and Safety Act aims to deliver a fair and nationally consistent legal framework to safeguard the health and safety of workers and workplaces. However, Safe Work Australia's WHS model regulations can only become legally binding when each state and territory officially integrate them into their own laws.
For more information about Safe Work Australia's model Workplace Health and Safety regulations, click here.
Responsibility of Managers
Since managers and/or the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) are the main points of authority in the workplace, the onus of responsibility is predominantly on them to maintain a safe work environment for all workers and relevant parties. Managers have a duty of care for the safety and wellbeing of all parties that may be affected by the work, or workplace. Employers and the overall business must make reasonable and active steps to comply with all applicable WHS regulations and effectively reduce the occurrence of any hazards and dangers.
Some responsibilities of managers under WHS include:
- The provision of a safe place of work
- Assessing potential risks and being proactive in minimising them
- Having appropriate insurance policies
- Maintaining equipment and machinery so they are safe for use
- The provision of necessary safety equipment for certain tasks
- Having proper safety processes and procedures in place
Responsibility of Employees
Under Workplace Health and Safety regulations, employees also bear some of the responsibility associated with promoting and maintaining safety in the workplace. Without the compliance and cooperation of employees, ensuring a safe work environment would be a difficult task.
Workers are expected to contribute to Workplace Health and Safety in some of the following ways:
- Take reasonable care of their own safety
- Behave in a way that does not negatively affect the safety or wellbeing of other workers
- Follow safety instructions
- Report any injuries, illnesses or near misses to the relevant authorities
Benefits of Being WHS Compliant
Aside from the fact that Workplace Health and Safety is a legal requirement, being compliant with these laws and regulations can present the following potential benefits:
- Improve relations with employees and better retain staff
- Reduce costs and reputational damage associated with workplace injury and illness
- Help generate a positive reputation surrounding the business' treatment of workers.
If you're an employer looking for quality workers to lend a helping hand, contact us at Workfast today! Visit our website or call 1300 824 403.