Workplace Health and Safety
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Work Health and Safety has never been more important in the workplace than it is currently– and for good reason.
We have all seen and remember the WorkSafe adverts of children waiting for the return of a parent from work or an incident occurring at the workplace. Whilst confronting, they are a perfect representation of what shouldn’t be happening at work. No-one should ever go to work and be injured, or worse never return.
The current spotlight on Work Health Safety is based around organisations doing all they can (or everything that is reasonably practicable) to ensure the safety of their workers. If an employee is injured whilst at or performing work and an organisation cannot prove they have done everything that is reasonably practicable to keep them safe the consequences can range from fines to potential jail time.
On the 1st of July 2020, Industrial Manslaughter becomes a jailable offense in Victoria. With over 27,000 claims of workplace injury and 24 workplace fatalities in 2019 alone, WorkSafe and the Victorian Government have implemented the law to ‘strengthen workplace safety in Victoria’ (Worksafe).
As stated on the WorkSafe website, ‘Putting people's lives at risk in the workplace will not be tolerated. It's every employer's responsibility to make sure their employees stay safe at work and return home every day. If you fail to do your job, we'll do ours, and make sure you face the law’
Employers must have the wellbeing of the staff in mind. Employers need to ensure that the mental and physical health of all staff is of paramount importance no matter whether they work in an office, factory or building site. Injuries and incidents can occur at any time and it is imperative that all measures are taken in order to prevent an incident from taking place, however sometimes accidents do happen meaning that changes need to be made to ensure that the accident does not happen again. Incident reporting, site inspections, inductions, proper safety equipment, signage, compliance checks and risk registers are some essentials that can help to minimise the risk of a workplace incident.
Preparing for Industrial Manslaughter laws
So what does this mean for employers? The legislation highlights a strong focus on organisations achieving a culture of compliance which we expect WorkSafe Victoria's investigations will target in relation to possible offences of industrial manslaughter. With this in mind, it is important for businesses that they ensure adequate OHS systems, instruction training and supervision, but also place a heavy focus on worker engagement and a strong safety culture.
To get ready for the new legislation you will need to ensure you have a strong safety culture, the steps you should look at taking include;
Review all the potential hazards and risks in the workplace and ensure these are incorporated in the OHS approach
Complete a formal review of all the safety systems and controls currently in place and ensure they are full effective
Education and awareness for directors, senior officers and managers on the new legislation and offences
Reviewing incident action plans and responses
Consider your insurance arrangements for your organisation
With the new measure and punishments put in place it has never been more important to look after yourself and your workers. It’s a matter of life and death For any further information about Workplace Health and Safety in your workplace visit the WorkSafe website.
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