Work health and safety (WHS) and now internationally referred to as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) involves the management of risks to the health and safety of everyone in your workplace.
This includes the health and safety of anyone who does work for you as well as your clients, visitors and suppliers.
It may initially cost money and time to implement safe practices and install safety equipment but is critical to the success of your business. Not taking action could also result in prosecution, fines and loss of your skilled staff.
Who is required to have a WHSMS or OHSMS?
Any person conducting a business or undertaking is required to put health and safety practices in place as soon as you start your business.
Under Australian WHS laws your business must ensure the health and safety of your workers and not put the health and safety of others at risk. To do this you must:
- provide a safe work environment
- provide and maintain safe machinery and structures
- provide safe ways of working
- ensure safe use, handling and storage of machinery, structures and substances
- provide and maintain adequate facilities
- provide any information, training, instruction or supervision needed for safety
- monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace.
To achieve the above you are required to have a documented Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) otherwise known as Work Health and Safety Management Systems (WHSMS) in place.
Meaning of a person conducting a business or undertaking
In short according to the Work Health and Safety Act a person conducts a business or undertaking:
- Whether a person conducts the business or undertaking alone or with others; and
- Whether or not the business or undertaking is for profit or gain
Note that there are other factors relating the meaning which are in Subdivision 2 of the Act.
WHS requirements in your State or Territory
Each state has its own WHS laws and a regulator to enforce them. The WHS framework for each state includes the:
- Act – outlines your broad responsibilities.
- Regulations – set out specific requirements for particular hazards and risks, such as noise, machinery, and manual handling.
- Codes of practice – provide practical information on how you can meet the requirements in the Act and Regulations.
- Regulating agency (regulator) – administers WHS laws, inspects workplaces, provides advice and enforces the laws.
In simple terms, if you operate a business in Australia you are required to have a documented WHSMS or OHSMS system in place.
The standard that has been in use for WHSMS was AS/NZS 4801 but that may not be recognised in Australia in the future but can still be used unless certification is a requirement. Most small businesses won’t require certification unless it’s a client’s requirement.
AS/NZS 4801 is being replaced globally with ISO 45001 which is a much easier system and the one we’re implementing for our new clients.
Here at Shorlink we’re currently updating our own WHSMS (now OHSMS) from AS/NZS 4801 to the new ISO 45001 system.
The good thing about ISO 45001 is we’ve developed technology to assist in putting a simple system in place much cheaper than previously to meet your business requirements.
If you already have a documented WHSMS or OHSMS in place look at it carefully to ensure it meets all of your operational requirements.
Don’t have a system in place then consider your risks in the event of a workplace incident. A simple incident can cost you anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a million or more!
Need help in developing a safety management system for your maritime based business then contact Shorlink to see how we can help by:
Occupational Health and Safety Management System