WHS Training: What training?
The answers are not always obvious. The key places to look are in the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulation (WHS Regulation).
The “Primary duty of care” requires an employer (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking, abbreviation PCBU*) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, “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,” (Section 19 (f)).
The “Duty of officers*” requires an Officer of a corporation to exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU is complying with the WHS Act. One of the duties or obligations that must be complied with is “Ensuring the provision of training and instruction to workers about work health and safety” (Section 27).
So, what does this mean? As a start:
Any person who may be exposed to a risk must be trained in handling that risk. Asking yourself ‘What risks exist in this workplace?’ will tell you what training needs to be done.
Also all workers need to be trained in general matters relating to health and safety ie consultation procedures, elements of risk management, emergency procedures, the proper use of personal protective equipment etc.
The following are specific requirements for training:
Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs)
A PCBU has an obligation to train HSRs (Section 72).
“a health and safety representative is entitled to attend the following courses of training in work health and safety:
(a) an initial course of training of 5 days,
(b) 1 day’s refresher training each year, with the entitlement to the first refresher training commencing 1 year after the initial training.” (Clause 21)
Health & Safety Committee members
There is no specified course of training for Health & Safety Committee members, however to comply with the mandatory consultation process the PCBU would need ensure their Committee members were suitably trained to perform their functions.
A PCBU must not allow anyone who has not undergone General Construction Induction Training to perform any construction work for them (WHS Regulation Part 6.5).
A PCBU must ensure that:
“(a) an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace, or
(b) workers have access to an adequate number of other persons who have been trained to administer first aid.” (Clause 42)
Emergency Response Procedures
A PCBU must have emergency response procedures in place and must train workers in these procedures.( Ref: Clause 43)
Note: When making decisions in relation to provisions for First Aid and Emergency Response Procedures the following matters need to be considered:
the nature of the work being carried out at the workplace
the nature of the hazards at the workplace
the size and location of the workplace
the number and composition of the workers and other persons at the workplace.
High Risk Work
Specific licenses are required to perform work classified in the WHS Regulations as ‘High Risk’. The Regulations specify the course of training required to obtain a license for each category. Some examples are ‘Working at Heights’ and ‘Working in Confined Spaces’. A PCBU may not allow anyone to perform high risk work for them who is not licensed for that work.
Each workplace has its own individual training requirements that should be worked out so as to help ensure the health and safety of everyone in the workplace.
You also need to consider matters such as:
Duty to Manage Risks
A PCBU has a duty to manage risks in the workplace, which includes identifying hazards, assessing the risks, controlling risks and reviewing control measures (WHS Regulation Part 3.1).
Assessing the risks of a hazard and working out how to control the risks could identify training that is needed in respect of that hazard.
A PCBU and the Officers of the corporation need to ensure that sufficient persons in the workplace are trained to carry out these responsibilities.
Officers: Due Diligence Duty
Officers of a PCBU should particularly get trained in WHS as the steps of due diligence set forth in the WHS Act require the Officer to:
acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of work health and safety matters
gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the business or undertaking of the PCBU and generally of the hazards and risks associated with those operations (Section 27/ 5 (a) & (e)).
Failure to exercise due diligence, in the event of a prosecution, could result in up to $600,000 in personal fines and a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. (Section 31)
Duty of Reasonable Care
Managers and supervisors need to be trained in their ‘reasonable care’ duty so they can assist the PCBU and Officers of the PCBU to fulfill their obligations to ensure the safety of their workers.
* PCBU: is a “Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking” under the WHS Act this is the entity that is ultimately responsible for health and safety in the workplace and would include Corporations, Sole traders, Partners, Self Employed persons, Government Departments and Volunteer organisations that have employees. (WHS Act Section 5)
* Officer: is someone who makes decisions, or participates in making decisions that can affect the whole or substantial part of a corporation. Officers would include Directors, Secretaries, CEOs and other persons in senior management positions. (WHS Act Section 4 ‘Definitions’).
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