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Most small business owners I talk to would rather be engaged in the money making side of their business than embroiled in compliance talk or scrolling through pages of government websites and safety legislation. But small business is responsible for the safety of approximately 4.8 million Australian workers, so it’s a conversation that needs to be made.
And where does a new manager or business owner actually start?
Sure there’s loads of information out there about WHS, but a lot of the content is high-end or written in a way that small business owners find hard to relate back to their own work experiences — especially if they are sole traders and only have a couple of staff.
Australian Safety Standards can be very difficult to navigate, and even government issued Codes of Practice and guidance material are often disjointed or don’t suit the hazards present at your business.
So because I’m a WHS and compliance writer (as well as a small business owner myself) I thought I’d start a new section of my website dedicated to talking work health and safety — taking the time to rewrite some of the more complex issues in simpler terms — using real world examples.
I remember back in 1998 when I had become a manager for the first time — I literally had no clue about work health and safety. There I was a 28yo bar steward with a bit of admin experience who had talked her way into a General Manager’s role at a small golf club in western NSW — now in charge of 10 staff and 15 contractors.
Being a licensed golf club, many of my workers were using heavy machinery and hazardous chemicals on a daily basis — plus we were all lifting and carrying stock and other heavy items in and out of the club. And I was responsible for everyone’s safety!
Feeling overwhelmed by terms like risk assessment and hazard control measure I marched myself off to TAFE (as you did in those days) to get some training in WHS and learn how to carry out a risk assessment. Then as I moved up the management ladder and secured roles in larger venues I did more training, eventually becoming a registered WHSO (Work Health and Safety Officer) — leading safety committees, developing safe work procedures and operating policy.
But I still remember those early days when I just didn’t know what I had to do, or where to find stuff. And I suppose that’s who I’m writing for now, that inexperienced girl-manager who was bursting with enthusiasm and wanting to get things right.
This is an introductory post to my WHS series but I have a publishing schedule in place to tackle the following topics — I’ll post the links as each article is published:
Once these 15 topics are published I’ll revisit the content schedule, and if there are any topics you’d like included please shoot me an email.
I have been writing work health and safety documents for more than 20 years now and even though the laws have changed quite a lot over this time, the basic principles remain:
WHS documents help senior management, workers and contractors understand their WHS roles and responsibilities — and provide clear instructions for avoiding dangerous incidents, chemical exposure, and workplace injuries. They also document compliance and support ongoing risk management, safety planning and review.
Developing safe work procedures and operating policy can be time consuming, especially when you lack writing skills. So if you need help putting WHS documentation in place, please reach out and get in contact with me today.
Fill out the contact form below and I’m usually in touch within a few hours.