Updating your Safety System for Harmonisation

Another great article from our favourite Safety Nerd:

What system to use to update your WHS system?

Posted on December 5, 2011 by The Safety Nerd

Recently I’ve been working with quite a lot of company’s updating their system documents in line with the impending WHS changes.  Some of the main changes I’ve found have been
the jargon and responsibilities.  There’s not really that much until, that is  you look under the sheets and find all the short and curlies particularly when you are reviewing all the codes and you have procedural documents that relate specifically back to the codes that’s where it gets down to you wanting to put it in your ever growing too hard pile.

In a nut shell, here are the major changes I’d recommended for a system:

  • Change employee to workers. Don’t just click the ‘replace’ button, as some  instances such as relating to workers comp you will want to keep the reference to employees.
  • Change OHS to WHS
  • Don’t change every procedure to include responsibilities for ‘Officer’s.  The easiest way to solve this problem is to have a ‘schedule of officers’ and list those who fall under the definition of an officer and add it into your Responsibilities and Accountabilities procedure in terms of what Officers are required to do and spell out the due diligence requirements.  Don’t forget to also include Officer’s in your training matrix for specific due diligence training and update the specific job descriptions.
  • ‘Other persons’ such as visitors, make sure they are inducted even if it’s through a visitor sign in and escorted, and look at signage and contract terms.
  • Consultation is a big one.  Make sure there is consultation with other duty holders such as contractors and add in Health and Safety Representatives.  Check out Part 5 of the WHS Act and the Code for Consultation, there’s lots of small changes which I’ve mentioned in a previous blog which needs to be included in your consultation procedure
  • Incident notifications – make sure that whenever there is an incident that needs to be notified that the system related documents and SWMS are also reviewed, and update notifable reporting requirements and how to notify.
  • Risk management has changed somewhat as risks do not necessarily need assessing if the risks are already well known, or are industry standard.  Some organisations I’ve worked with have still wanted to stick to assessing all risks, others haven’t, but it’s important that this isn’t then used as an excuse to skip assessment all together.  Have a look in detail at the Code of Practice for Managing Risk, and ensure the hierarchy of control is lined up with changes.
  • Construction work is quite a big one, with a definition of what ‘high risk’ construction work is, and that SWMS need to be completed for all high risk work.  Most construction company’s I’ve dealt with have wanted to keep the requirement for SWMS for all work, not just high risk.  The Code is quite detailed so take some time to read through it, as it includes quite a lot of detail in terms of construction and very small sentence changes will probably be required in your procedure documents.
  • Work at heights is another one that has changed quite a bit, calling it now ‘risk of fall’ and the measurements have changed in terms of when to use height  protection whereas the code is quite detailed in terms of all the equipment, requirements and fall controls.  There will be lots of small sentence changes with these.

To do a complete system review, you will need to read all the codes, and cross reference all your documents.  It’s a big job, but a job well worth doing correctly.

The Safety Nerd x

(any help, feel free to contact me)

Safety Nerd

Owner and Principal Consultant at Riskology
I’ve been in safety my whole career. Well nearly my whole career, I started off as a secretary for a recruitment company, then dabbled in HR whilst stumbling onto safety, which I fell head over heels ….literally in love (I know safety nerd alert) with safety after reading the book Lessons from Longford by Anthony Hopkins at the age of 19 and haven’t looked back since. I had a few friends that had been permanently injured in their early 20s and my Dad nearly lost his foot in a workplace accident when I was a twinkle in his eye and the Lessons from Longford book made so much sense to me. I started my life in safety knee high to a grasshopper working for Aristocrat in the 90’s, a gaming machine company in Sydney where I introduced national safety handbooks, alerts, industry focus groups and decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; during this time I also headed off to Uni and completed an MBA specialising in industrial relations, the closest qualification at the time related to safety, since then there’s been an explosion of courses so I then got my teeth into a masters of safety. I then went onto a safety role at Coca Cola Amatil and tackled the logistics of ensuring multiple sites were compliant from call centres to sales to manufacturing workers. This was an interesting time when new manufacturing plants were opening and becoming fully automated, never a dull moment in the world of safety. I’m a bit of a car buff so then moved into a safety role at Inchcape, you know the guys that own Subaru. I was looking after the safety for 45 sites and came up with some great strategies to get them all confident and running with safety. After saving my employers in total over $1.5million in workers comp and setting up some great strategies I decided to jump ship and moved away from the big smoke for love. That was a couple of years ago now and that’s when Riskology was born. I love helping other businesses create safer workplaces helping them through the minefield of legislation with simple easy solutions with the end goal of making workplaces safer. The safety industry has changed significantly in recent years, with new legislation and tougher penalties. Small businesses are expected to comply just as much as large businesses, that’s where I come in, helping to bridge the gap and cut through the jargon. Safety doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room, good safety practices is good for business. Qualifications Master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Master’s degree in Business Industrial Relations Accredited Lead Auditor Graduate Certificate Health and Safety Management Systems Cert IV – Workplace Training, OHS, HR(and Dip), Secretarial

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