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Managing WHS Risks and Preventing Harm

Managing WHS Risks and Preventing Harm

Oct 17th 2022

Managing WHS Risks and Preventing Harm

At its core, work health and safety is about managing risks and preventing harm. And while preventing workplace accidents and injuries should be a year-round priority, Safe Work Month provides an opportunity to focus on this important issue. This week's theme is 'Managing WHS risks and preventing harm,' and it encourages businesses to take a proactive approach to identifying and controlling risks.

By taking steps to assess and manage risks, businesses can create a safer workplace for everyone. And while no workplace is completely risk-free, by working together to identify and control risks, we can all help make our workplaces safer for everyone.

Here are ten things businesses can do to help manage WHS risks and prevent harm:

1. Implement a safety management system

A safety management system (SMS) is a comprehensive framework for managing WHS risks. It should include policies, procedures and protocols for identifying, assessing, and controlling hazards. An SMS can help an organisation to identify, evaluate systematically, and manage risks to workers, visitors, and the public.

It can also help to ensure compliance with statutory obligations and industry standards. When implementing an SMS, it is important to involve all relevant stakeholders. This will help ensure that the system is fit-for-purpose and effectively meets the organisation's needs.

Furthermore, regular review and audit of the SMS will help identify any weaknesses or gaps so that they can be addressed promptly.

2. Conduct regular safety inspections

Conducting regular safety inspections is an important part of maintaining a safe workplace. By identifying potential hazards and implementing corrective action, you can help prevent accidents and injuries before they occur.

However, simply conducting inspections is not enough. You also need to ensure that you are documenting and tracking the results of your inspections. This will allow you to see trends and identify areas that may need additional attention.

If you don't have a formal process for conducting safety inspections, now is the time to develop one. Taking this proactive step can help create a safer workplace for everyone.

3. Use safe work methods

Using the appropriate safe work methods can minimise the risk of injury or illness in the workplace. This includes using the correct tools and equipment and following safe work procedures. Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) are one way to ensure that risks are controlled and managed effectively.

SWMS document the control measures that will be put in place to minimise the risk of injury or illness when undertaking a task. They also outline the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the work.

By following a SWMS, workers can be confident that they are taking all reasonable steps to protect their health and safety.

4. Train employees in WHS

Employee safety is a top priority for any business. Not only is it morally the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. A safe workplace is productive, and happy employees are likelier to stick around. That's why it's so important for businesses to provide ongoing training on job-related hazards and how to carry out tasks safely.

SOPs (standard operating procedures) are a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding safety. But SOPs can only do so much. They need to be supplemented with regular training specific to each workplace's needs. By providing employees with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe, businesses can create a culture of safety that will benefit everyone.

Builder Using Cement Mixer On Building Site With Apprentices

5. Promote healthy work practices

A healthy workforce is less likely to suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses. Workplace policies that promote healthy work practices, such as taking regular breaks and managing workplace diseases, can help to reduce the incidence of these problems.

One of the most important things businesses can do to promote a healthy workforce is to have good policies to manage exposure to hazardous materials. For example, silica dust and lead can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory illnesses and neurological damage. By ensuring that workers are properly protected from these substances, businesses can help to reduce the number of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Ultimately, a healthy workforce is essential for the success of any business. By promoting healthy work practices, businesses can help ensure that their employees can work safely and effectively.

6. Manage stress levels

High-stress levels can lead to risky behaviour and increase the likelihood of an incident occurring in the workplace. While some amount of stress is inevitable, managing stress levels to minimise its risks is important. One way to do this is by providing employees with a healthy work/life balance. This includes ensuring they have adequate time off, flexible working arrangements, and access to resources such as policies and counselling services.

Additionally, employees should feel empowered to take breaks when they feel overwhelmed or stressed. Another way to reduce stress in the workplace is by ensuring employees have the resources they need to do their job safely and effectively. This includes providing proper training, investing in high-quality safety equipment, and ensuring adequate staffing levels.

By taking these steps, employers can create a safer and more productive workplace for their employees.

7. Control access to hazardous areas

High-stress levels can lead to risky behaviour and increase the likelihood of an incident occurring in the workplace. While some amount of stress is inevitable, managing stress levels to minimise its risks is important. One way to do this is by providing employees with a healthy work/life balance. This includes ensuring they have adequate time off, flexible working arrangements, and access to resources such as policies and counselling services.

Additionally, employees should feel empowered to take breaks when they feel overwhelmed or stressed. Another way to reduce stress in the workplace is by ensuring employees have the resources they need to do their job safely and effectively. This includes providing proper training, investing in high-quality safety equipment, and ensuring adequate staffing levels.

By taking these steps, employers can create a safer and more productive workplace for their employees.

8. Use appropriate personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is essential for workers exposed to hazardous materials or working in dangerous environments. PPE must be selected based on the risks involved in the job, and employees must be trained to use it correctly.

The most common types of PPE include safety glasses and goggles, earplugs and earmuffs, respirators, and protective clothing. Some workers may also need to use face shields, hard hats, or steel-toed boots. It is important to ensure that PPE is properly fitted and that it does not interfere with the worker's ability to do their job.

Workers should also be aware of the limitations of PPE and understand that it does not provide complete protection from all hazards.

9. Invest in safety equipment

There are many benefits to investing in safety equipment for the workplace. Fire extinguishers, for example, can help to prevent fires from spreading and causing significant damage. Barriers can help to protect employees from hazards and prevent injuries. In addition, safety equipment can help to create a safe work environment and foster a culture of safety in the workplace.

By investing in safety equipment, businesses can ensure that their employees are protected and meet their health and safety legislation obligations. It's essential to ensure that all safety equipment is properly maintained and regularly tested to ensure it's ready for use when needed.

10. Regularly review safety policies and procedures

As any safety professional knows, policies and procedures are essential for maintaining a safe workplace. Not only do they help to ensure that employees are aware of potential hazards, but they also help to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries.

However, policies and procedures must be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that they are relevant to the current workplace environment. Otherwise, they may not be effective in preventing accidents and injuries. Review dates should be clearly established, and version control should be used to ensure everyone is using the most up-to-date version of the policy.

In addition, risk assessments should be conducted on a regular basis to identify any new or changing hazards that might require an update to the policy. By regularly reviewing and updating safety policies and procedures, employers can help to create a safer workplace for everyone.

Conclusion

As highlighted throughout this article, there are many things businesses can do to manage WHS risks better and prevent harm. By implementing some or all of the measures discussed, businesses can create a safer workplace for everyone.

Of course, no system is perfect, and accidents can happen even in the safest workplaces. However, by taking proactive steps to reduce risks, businesses can minimise the likelihood of accidents and injuries occurring. In the end, creating a safe workplace is good for everyone – employees, employers, and the business itself.


Author - Craig Cruickshank is the HSEQ Manager and Senior Technical Advisor at SafetyDocs by SafetyCulture.

Craig comes from a construction and environmental background, with experience in both the private and public sectors and is passionate about making health and safety information easy to find and understand for everyone.

Learn more about Craig's work on LinkedIn


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Please note that the above information is provided as a comment only and should not be relied on as professional, legal or financial advice.

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