The NSW Occupational Health & Safety Act 2000, in conjunction with the consolidation of all associated regulations into the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001, is the most significant reform to occupational health and safety laws in 20 years.
The changes introduce a move away from old-style laws which attempted to detail how hazards were to be controlled in every situation, to a position which requires employers to assess the risks posed by hazards in their workplace and to determine how best to modify their work processes to effectively eliminate or control the risks.
This process is known as risk management.
As part of replacing outdated laws and re-shaping the legal framework to suit modern industrial conditions and work practices, the new OHS Act and the OHS Regulation formally introduce risk management into regulatory framework and make it mandatory for employers to consult with employees on matters which affect their health and safety.
Understanding these legal requirements is an essential part of understanding the role of risk management in the management of workplace health and safety and in knowing exactly how to meet your risk management obligations.
Consultation with employees is required:
Whenever risks to health and safety are being examined or reviewed;
When decisions are being made about measures taken to eliminate or control risks;
When introducing or altering any procedures for identifying and monitoring workplace risks;
Whenever changes that may effect health and safety are proposed to the workplace, the system of work, or the plant and substances used for work;
Whenever decisions are made about consultation arrangements.
For all the occupational health and safety activities that happen, or should happen in a workplace, there needs to be people responsible for:
Initiating the actions to be undertaken;
Developing the actions into steps (procedures);
Training others to follow the procedures;
Supervising people to make sure they understand and follow the procedures;
Reviewing the procedures to make sure they are working and updating them as conditions in the workplace change.
Managers, Supervisors and employees all need information, training and instruction on policy and procedures. Policies don't work if people don't know about them.
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