Insanity rules, ok?
Guest Post by Louisa Chesswas
Harmonised workplace health and safety can be likened to a building. The legislation, regulations, codes of practice, standards and guidelines are the bricks. The mortar tentatively holding it all together is the WHS practitioner who must somehow make sense of it all and put it into plain English for every level of the business to understand, from senior management down to the most junior employee.
Our senses are overloaded with sights and sounds and information about hazard identification, risk management, LTIs, MTIs, zero harm, compensation, return to work, the hierarchy of control, the cost of compliance, “best practice”, inductions, training, policies and procedures, SWMSs, SWIs, JSAs, duty of care, due diligence and paper, paper, paper.
WHS practitioners must keep ahead of changes in the legislation, penalties, new and/or improved ways to do things, unsatisfactory benchmarks, inadequate budgets, managers who put profit first, workers who don’t want to change they way they’ve always done things, equipment that breaks, WHS inspectors, unions and a plethora of other stumbling blocks to an effective and efficient WHSMS.
We must know how to assess risk and monitor compliance, and it certainly helps if we understand auditing.
We’re expected to understand the basics of noise and dust monitoring, drug and alcohol screening, ergonomic assessments, psychological wellbeing, wellness programmes, plant and machinery safety, training, PPE selection and maintenance, incident investigations, reporting, fire safety and all of the relevant standards and codes of practice that relate to each of these areas as they apply to our own workplaces. That’s on top of what we must know about the industry we work in, which may be very different to the industry a WHS colleague works in.
And just when we think we’re doing well Murphy comes along, and our KPIs, LTIs or whatever other performance measure we use are blown out of the water.
I wonder if there are any stats available regarding psychological claims for WHS practitioners, because I’m sure that in order to do this work we can’t possibly be sane!