Every organisation must have systems in place to implement and monitor their obligations under the relevant WHS Laws. Health and safety policies are important because they establish arrangements for protecting the health and safety of workers. A written general health and safety policy demonstrates to management, supervisors and workers that there is a commitment to ensuring high standards of health and safety.
The policy should cover some, or all, of the following items:
- Risk assessments
- Consultation with employees
- Maintaining plant and equipment
- Safe handling and use of substances
- Information, instruction and supervision
- Responsibility and delegation of authority
- Worker/staff training
- Accidents, first aid and physical and mental ill-health
- Monitoring hazards and risks
- Emergency procedures
- References to accompanying documents (e.g. registers, procedures, work instructions, training materials)
Employers are also required to have written risk assessments, which can be included in the overall health and safety policy.
All employees must be made aware of the policy, which should be subject to regular review and revision in the light of experience. Revisions may be in response to changes in the nature of work carried out, new machinery, or any changes in legislation.
Again, revisions should be brought to the employees’ attention.
Policies should be written in plain English so they can be easily understood and put into practice. To help smaller firms, SafeWork SA has produced Seven steps for Small Business. The site also provides a policy template.
A business can never guarantee the absolute safety of its staff, but it can do everything in its power to ensure the very lowest risk. This all begins with a strong health and safety policy.
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