Health and safety compliance is of utmost importance in any workplace, no matter the size or industry. The Model Health and Safety legislation managed by Safe Work Australia is in place to assist each state and territory implement legislation to ensure all workers are working in a safe and secure environment. The employer who fails to comply with this WHS legislation may face serious consequences that result in costly fines/penalties or damage to the reputation or business brand. It is essential for employers to understand how to ensure health and safety regulatory compliance in their workplace.
The Safety consultant is an essential partner in helping business meet their health and safety regulatory compliance requirements. The Safety Consultant can provide a comprehensive range of services to ensure that business’s meet the applicable safety regulations and mitigate the risk of injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
Development of the Health and Safety Management System and Safe Operating Procedures.
This is where the Safety Consultant can assist with reviewing or creating the current health and safety management system to ensure it is comprehensive and covers all risks in the business. This safety management system includes rules and procedures regarding the use of all equipment, the storage of hazardous materials, the disposal of waste, and any other legislative requirements that apply to your workplace. The documents in this safety management system should be communicated to all employees and (where applicable) contractors. Any changes should also be communicated as part of a structured change management process.
Once the health and safety management system is in place, employers must ensure that all employees are adequately trained in health and safety procedures. Contractors may be part of this training in the form of an induction that covers the specific aspects of the risk. Ensuring that the contractor is not instructed in who to perform the task but to ensure that the business and its workers are not affected my and works completed by the contractor. This training may include the use of equipment, proper waste disposal, and the storage of hazardous materials.
The safety consultant can provide guidance on the development of this health and safety management system and specific safe operating procedures. Organisations should have a Safety Management System to assist in ensuring risks such as these to not eventuate or are kept low. We have more information on the Safety Management System we support (Safety Directtm) and the various function it can perform for your organisation.
Any Safety Consultant being utilised to develop a safety management system should be at least certified to the Australian Institute of Health and Safety (AIHS).
The levels for a certified Health and Safety consultant are,
Practitioner (COHSPrac) – Implement strategies and actions usually designed by an OHS Professional. They support a safe working environment by maintaining OHS administrative processes, conducting basic training and using a range of state of the art tools, processes and standard practice solutions to OHS risks and their management, particularly aimed at routine and well-known processes and work.
Professional (COHSProf) – Design strategies relating to the organisation and management of OHS within the wider context of business processes and the external regulatory, market and societal influences. They are influential and involved in problem solving and organisational review and change as advisers and consultants.
Chartered Professional (ChOHSP) – Building on the role of the OHS Profession, the Chartered Professional is a person with high level specialist skills in a specific area and/or high-level strategic skills. They are likely to be a designer of strategy and influential with senior management and/or policy makers.
Note: Additional information on the roles is available at AIHS
This guidance can also include recommendations on the design of safety training programs, identification of potential hazards and how to mitigate them, and how to properly document safety incidents and respond to them in an effective manner.
Training related to the health and safety management system should be scheduled to be conducted regularly to ensure that employees stay up to date and assist the business to remain compliant. The retraining is more of a competency check that workers have retained the knowledge of the training and are able to apply that knowledge. Employers should also conduct regular health and safety inspections. Inspections as opposed to health and safety audits focus on the actual preidentified hazards in the workplace to ensure that they remain well controlled.
If a safety consultant is used to perform the WHS Audit, there should be a process to ensure that they are recognised through the peek Auditing body in Australia Exemplar Global. This company is a certification body that is internationally considered the recognised leader in certification for Auditors for businesses. Formerly known as RABQSA, Exemplar Global has over 30 years of building certification programs. One of the few certification bodies to have gained international accreditation under ISO/IEC 17024:2012 Conformity Assessment – General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certifications of Persons.
They have a proven history developing auditors through their internationally recognised training programs and support. A safety consultant with at least an external Auditor certification would be essential for simple audits where a Lead Auditor Certification is essential for whole of safety management system audits in a business.
These health and safety inspections should cover all areas of the workplace and ensure that all regulations are being followed. If any health and safety issues are found; this should be recorded and communicated. Employers should have a system in place to ensure that appropriate action is taken to resolve the issue to ensure compliance.
Employers should also ensure that any contractors or suppliers they use, comply with health and safety requirements. They should review contracts or agreements on a scheduled basis (at least annually) to ensure that all health and safety regulations are being followed. Employers should ensure that any health and safety incident is reported and investigated promptly. Even incidents where there is no injury, usually called a near miss. All incidents that are notifiable to the regulator reported quickly and be thoroughly investigated and documented. This will help to ensure that any issues are addressed quickly and that employees are kept safe.
Role of the Safety Consultant in Health and Safety regulatory compliance
Overall, engaging a safety consultant for this project can play a key role in helping businesses meet their health and safety requirements and reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. The comprehensive assessment of the business’s safety culture and the development of a health and safety management system (SMS) including safe operating procedures can help to ensure that the business is compliant with the applicable safety regulations. The review process built into the SMS will also provide for programmed milestones through the business implementation process to WHS compliance.
The safety consultant can also help to identify weaknesses in the safety management system and provide guidance on the proper documentation of safety incidents and investigations. Finally, the safety consultant can provide guidance on the development of corrective action plans to ensure that the business remains compliant with the applicable safety regulations.
By following these steps, employers can ensure that their workplace is in compliance with all health and safety regulations. This will help to protect both the employees and the business and will help to avoid costly fines/penalties or damage to the reputation or business brand.
We have qualified and certified Safety Consultants that can assist you in your business and offer a range of WHS consulting services along with general and specific health and safety training courses.
Contact us today for an obligation free quote on any of our services.