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Why workplace safety should be part of the planning process


Man dressed in safety gear, holding a hard hat

Advice | Employment Legislation | Staff

By Robert ONeill

WorkSafe have found that safety in many SMBs isn’t delegated to a responsible party, and is instead juggled on an ad hoc basis. This lack of planning has far-reaching impacts on a business’ ability to cut costs, especially WorkCover premiums. Here’s how to integrate workplace safety into your other business functions.

According to WorkSafe, workplace safety is rarely demonstrably led from owner or director level, isn’t linked to WorkCover premium performance and is not being guided by professional OHS advice.

The current WorkSafe Victoria medium segment intervention strategy targets businesses with a remuneration of $1 – $20 million. It encourages these businesses to integrate safety into their business management systems, to ensure they practice prevention rather than reaction, and gain commitment from owners/directors to the process.

Often owners and directors often are just simply unaware that systematic health and safety management and promotion leads to reduced WorkCover premiums and other cost reductions.

However, many people feel that current models of safety management systems are far too complex for the medium segment; they want the cost reductions, but not the complexity that comes with it. Resulting in WorkSafe developing the Seven Pillars of Safety – a simplified approach to safety in the workplace.

The second pillar, ‘Strategic Planning’, seeks to integrate safety management into the businesses normal planning by ensuring objectives and targets are set with appropriate KPI’s determined and budgets allocated accordingly. This is about removing uncertainty and acknowledging safety simply as another function of the business, which must be managed, the same as quality, sales, marketing, accounting and human resources.

So how does your workplace measure up?

Area: Planning

What to look for:

  • Company Safety Plan.
  • Safety Plans budgets.
  • Key performance indicators.

Expected practice:

  • Strategic plan signed off by business owner or direct report.
  • Detailed budget items around workplace health and safety.
  • Objectives in place and reviewed as part of performance review process.
  • Clear evidence of consultation between workers and managers in plan development and regular reviews of plan.
  • KPIs reviewed regularly and modified to reflect new challenges if necessary.

Unacceptable practice:

  • No safety plan.
  • No forward financial plans.
  • No OHS / RTW objectives defined.

Area: Acquisitions and modifications

What to look for:

  • Full investigation by certified OHS professionals.

Expected practice:

  • A report addressing all potential hazards is authorized by a certified OHS professional.
  • A post acquisition modification audit is completed with any outcomes incorporated into future activities.

Unacceptable practice:

  • Not done

This simplified approach is designed to support personnel in medium businesses that have OHS and RTW responsibilities on top of their normal duties. It will establish and confirm their role as the ringmasters, not the experts and as facilitators, not doers of everything.

WorkSafe have found that these people lack confidence, skills and capability, but are expected to have all the answers and are often presented with an overwhelming amount of complex information. The aim is to provide them with support that is easy to access and tailored to their needs.

At Work Safety Hub we are using the seven pillars as a guideline. Businesses now have a much simpler view and understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

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