Small business owners and operators have obligations to ensure the health and safety of their workers while at work. Work health and safety (WHS) and Electrical Safety (ES) laws lay out the codes to follow and many owners of Australian small business find this a little overwhelming.
This is where I can help. Compliance with WHS and ES laws must be documented and updated at regular intervals and I have both the copywriting skills and the WHS experience to do this correctly for you. I know this is something that causes small business owners a great deal of stress, particularly if you don’t feel confident writing and are in that precarious first year or two of business where you are literally doing everything yourself. Alternatively, your business may have experienced rapid growth and your risk management measures are no longer be adequate.
You may not realise that small business accounts for more than 95% of all Australian businesses and are responsible for the WHS of around 4.8 million workers. As an employer your level of responsibility is exactly the same whether you have 1 or 500 employees.
WHS Responsibilities of Employers
Whether your workplace is a manufacturing plant or a team of bookkeepers you must look after the health and safety of your staff at work. You do this by:-
- showing employees how to do their job safely or making sure someone shows them how to do their job safely
- ensuring everyone knows the safety aspects of the building and equipment (location of fire exits, emergency procedures, how to use fire extinguishers)
- making sure there is someone to watch out for them
- not asking them to do anything that needs a special licence, like drive a car, a crane or a forklift if they don’t have the right licence
- having the right tools and equipment for them to do their job safely (and providing them)
- making sure staff are not subjected to bullying, harassment or workplace violence
Workplace Bullying, Harassment and Violence
Workplace bullying and harassment occurs in all types of workplaces (even small ones) and is a risk to health and safety. Workplace bullying and harassment can adversely affect the psychological and physical health of a person and all employers must have documented measures in place to prevent occurrences.
As an employer you may be wondering what you can do to prevent this taking place on your premises. Having sound management practices to effectively direct and control the way work is carried out is the best way of reducing risk and meeting your duty of care in this area.
As a former Workplace Health and Safety Officer and Workplace Rehabilitation Co-ordinator I have the skills and experience in writing Risk Management Plans which address employee obligations to WHS including workplace bullying harassment. This includes documenting staff consultation as well as hazard identification, risk assessment, risk control and conducting ongoing reviews.
Remember you will be implementing the policies to keep your workplace safe, my role is guide you in the right direction, prepare sound policies for you and your staff to follow, and then record the actions you’ve taken. It is important to remember that writing documents alone does not extinguish your WHS obligations.
At the time of writing this short article (August 2017), 3,525 Australians have been killed at work between 2003 and 2017 (including 110 this year). Please don’t let this happen at your workplace.
If you don’t have any Work Health and Safety measures in place at your workplace, I strongly encourage you to watch this 20 minute video from Safe Work Australia. Managers and leaders working in micro, small and medium enterprises can learn how to meet their WHS obligations.