When it comes to workplace safety, Australia has some of the highest standards in the world. To protect workers and ensure compliance with these standards, businesses must develop policies and procedures that support a safe working environment.
From your fire protection services to your workplace bullying and harassment policy, plenty of considerations need to be included in workplace safety policies and procedures. The essential first step is understanding the legal requirements under Australian workplace safety standards to ensure compliance.
Workplace safety standards in Australia are designed to protect workers from injuries, illnesses, and death. The Australian Government’s Safe Work Australia Agency (SWA) develops the standards. The standards cover various topics, including workplace design, work equipment, electrical equipment, hazardous materials, manual handling, and ergonomics.
The standards are mandatory for all workplaces in Australia, and employers must ensure that their workplaces comply with the standards. failure to do so can result in significant penalties. Workplace safety standards are regularly reviewed and updated to remain relevant and effective.
There are a number of steps that need to be taken when developing workplace safety policies and procedures, including:
Identify the Hazards Present in Their Workplace
Every workplace has its own unique set of hazards, which is why it’s so crucial for business owners to carefully assess their work before developing safety policies and procedures. Identifying the hazards present in your workplace is the first step in keeping your employees safe and preventing accidents.
Some common workplace hazards include slips, trips and falls; chemical exposure; ergonomic risks; and exposure to loud noise.
Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common types of workplace accidents. They can occur when floors are slippery or cluttered or sudden elevation changes. To prevent these accidents, employers should keep floors clean and free of debris and post warning signs where there are potential trip hazards.
Chemical exposure can be hazardous in many workplaces, such as factories, laboratories and printing presses. Employees may be exposed to harmful chemicals through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion.
To protect employees from chemical exposure, employers should provide proper ventilation and protective equipment, such as gloves, masks and eye protection. As stated here in a guide by Protex AI, personal protective equipment provides employees with the necessary protection to ensure their safety while they are performing their duties. They should also ensure that employees are properly trained to handle chemicals safely.
Ergonomic risks are another type of hazard that can be present in the workplace. These risks can occur when employees are required to perform repetitive tasks or lift heavy objects.
To reduce ergonomic risks, employers should provide ergonomic training to employees and make sure that they have the proper tools and equipment for the tasks they need to perform. Employers should also encourage employees to take breaks frequently to avoid fatigue.
Exposure to loud noise can also be a hazard in some workplaces. This type of exposure can damage hearing and lead to other health problems, such as anxiety and stress. Employers should provide earplugs or other hearing protection devices to protect employees from noise exposure. They should also create quiet areas where employees can take breaks from the noise.
Suitable Control Measures Must Be Put in Place
Once hazards have been identified, suitable control measures must be implemented to mitigate the associated risks. This may involve changing how work is carried out, providing personal protective equipment, or offering training to work safely in certain environments. By taking these steps, businesses can help to create a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.
In some cases, a hazard may not be immediately apparent or only become apparent when certain work activities are carried out. For this reason, it is important to assess the workplace for potential hazards regularly and to consult with employees to get their input on any risks they have identified. By taking these precautions, employers can help to ensure that their workplaces are safe for everyone.
Develop Policies and Procedures That Detail How These Control Measures Are to Be Implemented
Some common control measures include hand-washing, using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and decontaminating equipment. It is important to note that these policies and procedures must be specific to your facility and reviewed regularly to ensure they are effective.
Ensure That Employees Are Aware of and Understand These Policies and Procedures
Not only does a safe work environment protect employees and limit liability, but it can also boost morale and improve productivity. As such, employers must ensure that their employees know and understand these workplace safety policies and procedures.
One way to do this is to include a section on workplace safety in the employee handbook. This section should outline the company’s safety policy and procedures, as well as any relevant laws and regulations. Employers should also provide training on workplace safety, both when new employees are hired and on an ongoing basis.
Periodic reminders about workplace safety procedures can also help keep employees informed and compliant. By taking these steps, employers can help create a safe work environment for their employees and minimise the risk of accidents or injuries.