Workplace safety should be a key consideration for all businesses as apart from providing a safe environment being the right thing to do there are heavy penalties if you're business is found to be in breach of regulations. Thanks to WHS supremo Tammy O'Donnell from Northshore BMW Bodyshop for this timely reminder.
Under Australian WHS laws, your business must ensure the health and safety of your employees, contractors and others who visit your premises to prevent risk of incident, injury and illness.
Employers or businesses, or anyone who falls under the definition of a “person conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBU), which includes Directors, have a legal obligation under WHS laws to comply with the WHS Act 2011 and associated regulations and standards.
Development and implementation of a safety framework reduces the risk of a Director being personally liable for a breach of WHS laws.
Directors have a legal duty to develop, implement and monitor systems to ensure safe working conditions in their workplaces as far as is reasonably practicable. In all Australian jurisdictions, there is an obligation for Directors to exercise due diligence in relation to WHS.
Directors must exercise their due diligence by:
- acquiring and updating knowledge on WHS matters.
- understanding the business and associated hazards and risks.
- ensuring the Director (PCBU) has WHS resources and processes in place to eliminate or minimise risks.
- ensuring a timely response to hazards and incidents.
- ensuring a process for legal compliance.
- verifying that the Director (PCBU) has used the resources and processes identified as stated above.
Other primary legal duties require a Director (PCBU) to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable to:
- provide and maintain a safe work environment.
- provide and maintain safe plant and structures.
- provide and maintain safe systems of work.
- ensure safe use, handling and storage of plant, structures, and substances.
- provide accessible and adequate facilities (for example access to washrooms, lockers, and dining areas).
- provide instruction, training, information, and supervision to employees.
- monitor employee’s health and conditions at the workplace and
- maintain any accommodation owned or under their management and control, to ensure the health and safety of employees occupying the premises.
It should be noted that workplace health and safety bodies regulate and investigate breaches of WHS laws. They carry out legal prosecutions against individuals, employers or businesses who have breached WHS laws.