All workplaces have a physical work environment that includes matters such as; workspace, floors, lighting, and ventilation. And all workplaces need facilities for workers such as; toilets, drinking water, and washing hands.
This article covers the WHS duties that apply to these matters and how you can satisfy those duties and involve your workers in the process of improving health and safety.
The WHS Regulation 2011
Regulation 40 requires PCBUs to ensure so far as reasonably practicable, health and safety for matters in the physical working environment.
Regulation 41 requires PCBUs to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the provision of adequate facilities for workers, including toilets, drinking water, washing and eating facilities. These facilities must be in good working order, clean, safe and accessible.
The Code of Practice below is an excellent resource for satisfying these 2 regulations.
Code of Practice: Managing the Work Environment and Facilities
This Code of Practice gives clear information and practical guidance on how to achieve the standards of health and safety and welfare under the WHS Act and WHS Regulations in the topics listed below.
THE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Entry and exit
Floors and other surfaces
Heat and cold
Access to facilities
Involve your H & S Committee and/or HSRs
Each of the topics above contain clear information and guidance that your H&S Committee and/or HSRs could use to provide valuable help in improving health and safety and satisfying WHS requirements for that topic.
For example here is a checklist they could use that is built from the information about Housekeeping in this Code of Practice. Poor housekeeping can cause injuries, particularly injuries resulting from slips and trips.
Are spills on floors cleaned up immediately? ___
Are walkways kept clear of obstructions? ___
Are work materials neatly stored? ___
Are suitable containers for waste conveniently located? ___
Is waste regularly removed? ___
Is the workplace well laid out with sufficient space for storage of tools and materials and the movement of people? ___
Is it difficult to maintain tidiness throughout the working day? ___
Have all workers in the area been trained in good housekeeping procedures? ___
Do all the workers cooperate with these procedures? ___
And other checklists could be created for your workplace using the information and guidance in each topic eg. Floor and Other Surfaces, and Work Areas. And there is a Work Environment and Facilities Checklist in the Code at Appendix A.
HSRs and Committee Members are caring people with a high interest in helping others. They would love to be more involved in health and safety.