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Does Risk Management “End” When all Risks are Managed?

Weekly WHS Article 15th November 2022

It is the duty of the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to manage risks in the workplace. The PCBU must identify reasonably foreseeable hazards, assess their risks, and eliminate (or use risk control measures if not possible to eliminate) risks and hazards in their workplace. {ref 1}

WHS law states that the PCBU has the primary duty of care in the workplace. Workplace health and safety risk management is entirely the responsibility of the PCBU. It is the PCBU who must put in place and maintain, an effective WHS risk management system. {ref 2} The Officers of the PCBU have the duty to oversee and ensure that the PCBU is complying with WHS law. WHS duties are not transferrable. {ref 3}

If the PCBU cannot eliminate a risk, the PCBU must implement risk control measures to minimise that risk so far as is reasonably practicable. {ref 4-5}

Once those controls have been created, the PCBU must ensure that staff and visitors know about and comply with those controls. Signage, instruction, information, and training may help educate all persons in the workplace. WHS law also says that workers (and anyone else present at the worksite) have a duty to take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and comply with instructions given them. This means they must follow the rules. It is the supervisors and managers who must actively ensure that all staff and visitors follow the rules. {ref 6}

This interaction between the PCBU, officers of the PCBU, workers and their supervisors and managers, paints a very clear picture of what a WHS risk management system should be and how it functions for the betterment of all. This symbiotic relationship is the essence of work health and safety law.

Risk Management is a Continuous Process

If you find that it seems that all risks and hazards in your workplace are being managed, that everything just hums along, with staff being well-supervised, staff following the rules, and no injuries or incidents caused by unmanaged risks, then pat yourself on the back! This is no small achievement.

You have achieved this level of risk management by continuing to take successful risk management actions. If you cease those actions the risks will reappear. That is why clause 37, of the WHS Regulation requires the PCBU to maintain control measures and clause 38 of the WHS Regulation requires that the PCBU periodically review the risk controls and amend as necessary to ensure that they are still relevant to the current risks! {ref 7-8}

The SafeWork NSW Code of Practice How to Manage Work Health & Safety Risks has very useful advice on page 23, How to Ensure Controls Remain Effective, and on page 24, How to Review Controls.


Ref 1. WHS Regulation Clause 32-38 Managing risks to health and safety

Ref 2. WHS Act Section 19 Primary duty of care

Ref 3. WHS Section 14 Duties not transferrable, WHS Act Section 27 Duties of officers

Ref 4. WHS Act Section 17 Management of Risks

Ref 5. WHS Act, Section 47 Duty to consult workers

Ref 6. WHS Act, Section 28 Duty of workers, Section 29 Duties of others Ref 7. WHS Regulation, Clause 37 Maintenance of control measures, Ref 8 WHS Regulation, Clause 38 Review of control measures

Does Risk Management End When all Risks are Managed
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17th November 2022


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