Tips for managing Health and Safety in your workplace
As an employer, providing a safe working environment for your employees should be in the forefront of your mind. October is National Safe Work Month and it is a timely reminder for all small to medium business owners to think about your workplace environment.
It is the legal duty of the employer to provide all employees with a safe working environment. In circumstances where employees have suffered injuries, your liability may extend to financial implications for time off work and insurance premiums for work cover claims. Following investigations, penalties may also be imposed by Fair Work Australia and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
When people hear “safe work environment” they normally turn their mind to physically dangerous or risky tasks rather than all types of tasks that an employee may perform in a business. All too often it is assumed that the industries that do not typically perform jobs posing an immediate risk to physical safety do not need to worry about providing a safe work environment.
However, the duty to provide a safe work environment is not limited simply to physical injuries to employees; it extends to employees’ mental health and protection from sexual harassment and bullying.
As an employer, keeping track of all your liabilities can be exhausting. While it would be ideal to have a workplace where injuries simply did not happen, the fact is that employees are human and injuries (whether physical or mental) occur in the workplace. However, you are able to limit your liability for employee injuries in circumstances where you can prove that you have implemented workplace policies for your employees.
We recommend that every workplace has, at a minimum, the following workplace policies:
- Workplace health and safety procedures and safe work method statements for the duties that your employees perform, relative to the industry in which you operate.
- Sexual harassment and bullying policies.
- Social media and Internet use policies together with parameters for employee utilisation.
- Appropriate dress code, including requirements for personal protective equipment.
- A detailed complaints and investigation process for all incidents.
By implementing workplace policies, training your employees on the workplace policies and ensuring compliance with the workplace policies, employers will be able to limit their liability in an investigation where a workplace injury has occurred.
At Streten Masons Lawyers we aim to provide owners of small to medium businesses with tools to not only understand the liabilities as employers, but implement processes to limit liability where possible. Please contact our office on (07) 5428 1111 for a review of your employment processes and advice on workplace policies.