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How can you keep your workers safe?

Managers and Supervisors have to deal with this issue every day in their workplace – keeping the employees and others in their area of responsibility and control, safe and healthy.


Five Steps

The steps that Managers and Supervisors need to take in their workplace to achieve a safe and healthy workplace are;


  1. Know the risks to health and safety in their area of the workplace

  2. Know how those risks should be managed

  3. Understand their duty of care as set out in the WHS Act

  4. Understand what they need to do to contribute to the PCBU’s duty of care and comply with instructions they receive about this.

  5. Take the appropriate actions to comply with their duty of care and contribute to the PCBU’s duty of care in accordance with the level of responsibility and control they have been given by their employer.


The PCBU’s Duty of Care

The WHS Act (Section 19) requires that the PCBU must ensure as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of everyone in their workplace.


This is the PCBU’s primary duty of care but Managers and Supervisors are key persons in making this a reality.


For example, all Managers and Supervisors are involved to a greater or lesser extent in, “the provision of any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking,” (WHS Act Section 19 (f)).


Depending on the nature of your business, your workers will require information or instruction, training and supervision in matters such as:

  • consultation

  • risk management

  • first aid

  • hazardous manual tasks

  • bullying, discrimination and harassment policies

  • health effects of noise exposure

  • your accident and emergency procedures

  • handling hazardous chemicals

  • correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • how to safely operate equipment and machinery

  • high-risk activities, e.g. working at heights

  • working in confined spaces

  • work that requires specific qualifications or licensing to perform

  • your health and safety policies

  • any other policies, procedures and practices that apply to your workplace


And also, Managers and Supervisors need to know what the risks are in their area of the workplace and how they must be handled so that they can contribute to other essentials of the PCBU’s duty of care such as the establishment and maintenance of;


  • “safe systems of work”, and

  • “safe plant and structures”, and

  • “a work environment without risk to health and safety”


Managers and Supervisors Duty of Care

As shown in Section 28 of the WHS Act Managers and Supervisors must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health & safety

  • take reasonable care not to adversely affect the health & safety of other persons

  • comply, so far as reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the PCBU to allow the person to comply with this Act

  • co-operate with any reasonable policy or procedure of the PCBU relating to health or safety at the workplace that they have been notified of


Take Appropriate Actions

You will probably find that taking appropriate actions as described in Step 5 is

easier than it perhaps looks. Most large workplaces have an established WHS Management System with policies and procedures that cover health and safety issues in your area of work. Implementing and maintaining workplace policies and procedures is one of the key points in your WHS duty of care.


Where necessary you can look for resources from sources such as the

WorkCover NSW website and see the guidance material and Codes of Practice that they have on the WHS issues you are dealing with.


You are welcome to download this article and distribute it within your organisation.

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