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Q: Do you run public training courses?
A: No. We provide a wide range of OHS training services direct to organisations and companies. We conduct accredited OHS courses in New South Wales; carry out training needs analysis; and conduct OHS training for management, supervisors, and employees.
Q: I own a small business, what do I
need to do for safety?
A: Most state authorities provide guidelines for small businesses on their websites. However, if you need more specific advice, we can conduct a desktop audit, in conjunction with a hazard inspection, and help you develop an effective OHS programme.
Q: Does my company have to have a safety
A: The requirements for employee consultation vary state to state, and are detailed on their websites. Under the new harmonised legislation a "Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)" (i.e. any organisation) is required to consult with their "workers" on OHS matters, including how this consultation takes place. "Workers" includes employees, part-timers, casuals, sub-contractors and volunteers.
The WHS Act makes provision for health and safety representatives (HSRs), health and safety committees (HSC) and other agreed arrangements. The legislation is quite detailed, however a PCBU:
Chris Jones Risk Management can assist you in developing a consultation programme that not only meets legislative requirements, but is effective.
Q: I've been told I have to have risk
assessments. What's that about?
A: Broadly speaking, every jurisdiction requires an employer to identify hazards, assess the risks, and control the risks that cannot be removed. There are specific documentation requirements and codes of practice for high risk manual handling; plant; hazardous substances; noise; and construction work. All jurisdictions require the risk assessment process to be conducted in consultation with employees. We can assist in the preparation of a risk register and risk assessments, and train your staff in risk assessment.
Q: How much responsibility does a company have for sub-contractors?
A: The harmonised legislation no longer differentiates between sub-contractors and other classes of "workers". The term "Workers" includes all employees, part-timers, casuals, sub-contractors and volunteers engaged by the PCBU, as well all workers in workplaces over which the PCBU (i.e. the organisation) has control or influence.
It is common for more than one duty holder to be prosecuted in the event of a given set of circumstances, so the employing PCBU, engaging PCBU, and influencing PCBU could all be held accountable if a particular worker is injured or put at risk.
Q: I can’t have a supervisor overseeing every employee all the time; so how do I get employees to work safely?
A: There is no single answer to this challenge. A PCBU must take a full bodied approach to ensuring the safe behaviour of their workers, as far as reasonably practicable, including:
Q: How much time do we have to spend on induction training for new employees?
I conducted a study for the Queensland government many years ago that analysed over a thousand lost time injuries in nearly thirty companies. The results showed that over half of all employees injured had been in their employment less than twelve months. I haven’t seen anything since that dispels that finding. Because new employees are particularly at risk of injury, induction training is critical.
The time spent on induction training will depend upon the experience and qualifications of the employee, and the complexity and hazards of the job. In reality, induction training is not confined to the first day or week, but should continue over the first year or longer, as the employee progresses through the company.
The missing link in most induction training programmes is assessment. Conducting a documented assessment, covering both knowledge and demonstrable skills, is an excellent way of determining that an employee has fully grasped a new job. The time it takes an individual employee to reach an acceptable level of competency, on a given job, will vary considerably.
There are specific requirements for construction work, including the nationally recognised "general OHS induction for construction work" course (e.g. the “blue card” in Queensland, the “red card” in Victoria and the “green card” in New South Wales.) While this is nationally consistent training, the specifics of issuing this qualification vary amongst the states.
Q: Does an employer have any responsibility for such contractors as maintenance people and cleaners?
A: A PCBU has to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of all workers in their workplace or over who's workplace they have influence.
To the extent that you have control
over someone else’s workplace, you have responsibility for their
safety. You should
ensure that contractors are inducted onto your premises, are
provided with safety rules, especially isolation procedures, and
advised of emergency procedures and first aid arrangements.
You should require them to have any electrical equipment
properly tested and tagged, and ensure that they advise you of any
hazardous substances they may be bringing on site or leaving over
should be required to follow the same safety rules, and use the same
protective clothing as your employees.
Is there a maximum weight an employee can be required to lift?
A: There is a national standard and code of practice on manual handling, supported by the requirements of the harmonised WHS legislation. In brief, there are no longer specific weight limits. An employer must:
The manual handling risk assessments must be documented, and conducted in consultation with workers.