WHS Management Systems

WHS Management Systems

To ensure compliance with WHS legislation a planned, systematic and coordinated approach to WHS Management is required.  Whilst systems developed need to reflect the environment a service provider is working within there are some generally accepted principles which should apply to any workplace.  Assistance with managing your WHS management system is available from an online system known as NDSonlineWHS available on a yearly licence fee basis.

Disability Services Providers must operate under the Work Health and Safety Legislation in individual states and territories as well as a range of Disability related legislation.

Work Health and Safety(WHS) Legislation consists of a WHS Act and WHS Regulation as well as a number of approved Codes of Practice.  Disability Service providers are regarded as Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU).  The PCBU has responsibility for the general duty to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of workers and others as far as is reasonably practicable.  Workers include employees, volunteers, contractors and sub-contractors and their employees, agency staff, students and any others who undertake any form of work for the PCBU.  A workplace is anywhere where work is undertaken and includes offices, workshops, vehicles, client's homes and community venues.  A posiitve duty known as due diligence to ensure that the PCBU meets its obligations under the legislation is placed on Officers of the PCBU.  Officers include CEO level and Board members but may include anyone else who makes decisions which affects more than 50% of the organisation.  Individual organisations need to identify who would be classified as Officers within their organisations and ensure that they meet their due diligence obligations - see 'management commitment' for more informaiton.

The PCBU must consult effectively with all workers and with other PCBUs.  Consultation is the cornerstone of all parts of the legislation.  Mechanisms for consultation are determined by the PCBU in consultation with workers but the legislation provides information on Health and Safety Representative (HSR) elections and Health and Safety Committee formation - see consultaiton section for more information.

A number of Codes of Practice have been approved and a number of others are to be introduced over time.Copies of the Codes of Practice are available on the Safe Work Australia Website www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au;  Summaries in the form of factsheets are available for the following Codes of Practice relevant to the Disability Sector:

There is also a factsheert on PCBUs, RCDs and PPE.  There is also a sanple factsheet which can be given to volunteers to explain their WHS obligations.

The ideal way to implement the WHS legislation is through a planned, systematic and coordinated approach.  Models for such an approach are available and how they are implemented is dependent upon the type of service being offered.  However there are some generally accepted principles which should apply to any workplace.  Adoption of these practices should reduce the risk of injury and the risk of non-compliance with legislative requirements.

A checklist has been developed to assist organisations to review their WHS Management systems.

NDSonlineWHS is an online tool customised for the disability sector which allows you to record and manage your WHS management system in one spot.

 Management of the Work Environment

The service provider is required to ensure as far is as reasonably practicable that:

  1. workplace layout and maintenance allow safe movement within and  in and out of the workplace
  2. work areas have sufficient space to work safely
  3. floors and other surfaces are safe
  4. lighting is adequate for safe work, safe movement within the workplace and safe evacuation in an emergency
  5. if vehicles and predestrians are in the same work area that suitable controls are in place to reduce risk
  6. ventilation that allows a worker to work safely
  7. if working in extremes of heat or cold, work is designed to reduce risk
  8. work in relation to or near essential services does not give risk to risk to health and safety.

Adequate facilities for workers including toilets, drinking water, washing facilities and eating facilities must be provided and maintained in good working order and be clean, safe and accessible but give consideration to nature and location of work etc. 

Risk Management

Providers need to have risk management systems to identify hazards to the health and safety of workers,clients and others and control the risks associated with those hazards.  Hazards may arise from the environment in which the work is conducted, the activities being undertaken and the clients receiving assistance.  Hazard identification, risk assessment(if required due tot he control measure not being obvious) and risk control strategies help the PCBU to do everything reasonably practicable to reduce the risk of injury and meet the duty of care requirements imposed by the legislation. 

Think about implementing some health and wellbeing strategies to help workers prevent injuries in the first place.  The Australian Government has a range of resources available on their eat for health website.

Training and supervision based on assessment of competence

The WHS Act requires employers to provide adequate information, training, instruction and supervision.  This can generally be met by:

  • Documented and available policies, procedures, care plans etc.
  • Training plans for induction and skills training for tasks in the workplace
  • Mechanism to assess worker’s use of equipment or work practices where risks are identified in the workplace
  • Regular training on WHS areas such as manual handling, hazard identification, staff and management responsibilities, injury reporting, development of safe work method statements. 

 Document Control and Records Management

The WHS Management System should be readily available to all staff.  This may be in the form of a staff handbook or documentation on an intranet.  The date of the procedure or document, version and review date should be recorded.  All completed forms etc should also be recorded.

 Injury Management and Workers Compensation

Commitment to good workers compensation and injury management practices demonstrates to employees that they are valued team members and also helps to meet legislative requirements and reduce costs.

 Monitoring and Review

Part of your WHS Management System should include the regular review of your policies and procedures to ensure that they are functioning as designed.  This can include a quality assurance regular review of all documented policies and procedures in consultation with relevant staff but can also include an WHS audit of your system.  This audit can be conducted by an external WHS auditor but can also be conducted internally by relevant staff.  Attached is a sample audit form based on the Australian Standard 4801 which can be utilised for internal audits.

Attached is also a sample WHS Management system calendar which can be used to check off that the main WHS activities are completed as required.

WHS Manual

The above issues can be documented in the form of policies and procedures which would form the basis of an WHS Manual which can be accessible to all staff either on an intranet or in a staff handbook.

References:

Model WHS Act

Model WHS Regulation

AS 4801:2000 – OHS Management Systems – Specification with Guidance for Use

WorkCover – Workplace Safety Kit – A Step by Step Guide for Business