By Josh Mann

Creating a safe work environment is critical to the success of your business, and is one of the best ways to retain staff and maximise productivity. Though it may cost to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the effect of not taking action can be severe.

As a business owner you have responsibilities regarding health and safety in your workplace. You need to ensure that your business doesn’t create health and safety problems for your employees, customers or the public.

Knowing and understanding the WHS laws, previously known as Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), will help you avoid unnecessary costs and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness. It will also provide your business with a strong foundation to achieve long-term success.

Having the right attitude towards the safety of your workers, contractors, customers and the public is an important first step. WHS shouldn’t be seen as an additional cost – it’s better to deal with health and safety issues before they escalate.

If you want to reduce health and safety hazards in your workplace but don’t know where to begin, there are simple steps that will allow you to concentrate your efforts as well as help your business to be prepared in all situations.

Here are a few tips to help you comply with parts of the WHS/OHS legislation in your state or territory:

  • Provide a safe premises – ensure your store is free of risks to your workers and to the public e.g. water on the floor, boxes in aisles, sharp clothes racks etc
  • Consult – ensure you involve and consult with your workers on decisions regarding their safety
  • Provide safe systems of work – develop and implement safety procedures/methods for hazardous tasks such as manual handling, using ladders, working with sharp instruments etc
  • Provide information, instruction, training and supervision – provide your workers with a decent induction program as well as ongoing training and supervision (keep records of all training conducted)
  • Provide a suitable working environment and facilities – workers need to have access to clean toilets, first aid kits, emergency facilities, adequate meal rooms etc

Complying with these tips can prevent you from being prosecuted and fined, and help you to retain skilled staff.

If you’re looking for assistance with WHS/OH&S requirements the WHS authorities in each state and territory provide education, training and advice on health and safety at work. You can get information about your workplace health and safety obligations and other valuable WHS/OH&S resources both in hard copy and online from their websites.

Information sourced from the Australian Government Business website.

* Josh Mann has been managing work health & safety for over 15 years.