WHS writing and compliance @ Melinda J. Irvine

WHS and Compliance Writing in Australia

At the time of writing (December 2019), 157 Australians have been killed at work this year. Please don’t let this happen at your workplace.

Many small business owners in Australia are overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork and WHS writing necessary to show compliance with Work Health and Safety (WHS) and Electrical Safety (ES) laws.

Compliance with WHS and ES laws must be documented and updated at regular intervals, and many small business owners lack the technical writing skills and practical WHS experience to do this correctly.

Does you business have the skills in-house to implement and properly document:

  • WHS compliance audits.
  • Risk assessments.
  • Safe work procedures.
  • Hazard monitoring and review programs.
  • Safety training and inductions.
  • Risk Management Plans.

Even if you do know how to carry out a WHS compliance audit to identify all the safety hazards at your workplace — then put in place measures to reduce the risk — do you even have the time?

If you are in that precarious first few years of business (where you are literally doing everything yourself), the thought of all that WHS writing can cause you a great deal of stress. Alternately if your business has experienced rapid growth, your risk management measures may no longer be adequate.

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Understanding your WHS responsibilities

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.

Whether your workplace is a manufacturing plant or a team of bookkeepers you must provide a safe working environment, where all risks to health and safety have been properly identified, monitored, and controlled.

At the same time you must look after the safety of your people when they are working — you do this by:-

  • Making sure they know how to do their job safely.
  • Teaching them what to do in an emergency.
  • Ensuring they are properly supervised and there is always someone to look out for them.
  • Never asking your workers to do anything that needs a special licence if they don’t already have one — like drive a car, operate a crane, or use a forklift.
  • Providing the right tools and equipment for them to do their job safely.
  • Making sure they are not subjected to bullying, harassment or workplace violence.

Workplace Bullying, Harassment and Violence

Workplace bullying and harassment requires a special mention here because it occurs in all types of workplaces (even small ones) and is a direct threat to a person’s health and safety. It is also illegal.

Workplace bullying and harassment can adversely affect the psychological and physical health of your workers — and you must have documented measures in place to stop it from happening.

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Risk Management and WHS Writing Services

As a former Workplace Health and Safety Officer (WHSO) and HR Manager I have real-world experience developing, writing, and implementing safety audits and risk management plans that address all areas of WHS compliance, including:

  • Hazard Identification.
  • Risk assessment, control, monitoring, and review.
  • Workplace bullying and harassment.
  • Manual handling.
  • Hazardous chemicals.
  • WHS policies and operational plans to include in tender submissions and contractor agreements.
  • Developing administrative controls — operating procedures, training manuals, job descriptions that include safety responsibilities.

Developing safe work procedures, WHS policies, and Risk Management Plans are all important steps in WHS compliance, but it is important to remember that writing WHS documents alone does not extinguish your WHS obligations. They will only be effective when supported by a safe physical work environment, engineering controls that meet Australian Safety Standards (eg, PPE, chemical safety cabinets, fire protection systems), proper supervision,  and regular training.

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Get in touch with Mel

Like some more information about how I can help your business with WHS writing, training, and compliance? Fill out the quick contact form below and I’ll be back in touch within a few hours.

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