A recent WHS prosecution in South Australia highlights the need to have and maintain effective risk controls. The Court found that in this workplace a culture had developed that tolerated and even fostered unsafe practices.
This article deals with what happened in this case and actions you could take to help maintain risk controls and ensure that a similar poor safety culture does not develop in your workplace.
The PCBU was apparently not aware that unsafe procedures had been adopted and that over time a culture had developed that it was ok to bypass safety features on the machinery. A new employee was trained in the unsafe work procedure and in using the unsafe procedure suffered crushed fingers, third degree burns, and a diminished sense of feeling in both hands.
This incident would not have happened if reasonably practicable measures had been taken by WHS duty holders to ensure the safety of workers operating those machines.
Actions to help maintain risk controls
In the above incident, risk controls were not maintained and resulted in the development of a negative safety culture. It reminded us of an article we published in Your Safety Matters entitled Ensure Your Risk Controls Remain Effective.
The list of actions below that could help maintain risk controls in your workplace and help generate a positive safety culture are from our article Ensure Your Risk Controls Remain Effective.
➢ Provide Managers, Supervisors and other relevant persons, with the responsibility, authority and resources, to implement and maintain control measures effectively.
➢ Regularly inspect and test plant and equipment. Repair or replace any that are damaged or worn.
➢ Check that control measures are suitable for the nature and duration of work, are set up and used correctly.
➢ Inform, train, and supervise workers so that they achieve and maintain the ability to work safely.
➢ Regularly check you have the latest information about hazards from your manufacturers and suppliers to make sure the controls used in your workplace are still relevant.
➢ Regularly review work procedures and consult with workers.
➢ Amend or add to this list to best suit your workplace.
H & S Committee and HSR's Can Help
You could also consider giving your H & S Committee and/or HSR's the task of regularly reviewing risk controls to verify that they are being maintained and are effective in controlling risk.
And if you do not give them the full task then consult and involve them in the task.
WHS Regulation clause 37
WHS Regulation clause 38
Code of Practice: How to Manage Work Health & Safety Risks
Code of Practice: WHS Consultation, Cooperation and Co-ordination