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How Can You Avoid Having a Serious Incident or Disaster in Your Workplace?

The journey to avoiding a serious incident, disaster, or minor injuries and harm in your workplace begins with the commitment and actions of management to ensure the health and safety of everyone in the workplace. Health and safety risks must be managed so that they are eliminated or minimised so far as is “reasonably practicable” (Section 17, WH Act NSW 2011).

“Management commitment”

(page 7, How to Manage Health & Safety Risks – Code of Practice)

“Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who operate and manage the business or undertaking. You also need the involvement and cooperation of your workers, supply chain partners, and other businesses you work with. Management commitment is about demonstrating you are serious about health and safety and influencing other duty holders in the workplace.

To demonstrate your commitment, you should:

  • get involved in health and safety issues so that you understand the hazards and risk associated with your operations

  • consult workers and other duty holders on the hazards and risk, and how to control them

  • invest time and money in health and safety

  • ensure you and your workers clearly understand health and safety responsibilities and have the knowledge and skill to do tasks safely, and

  • apply health and safety values and behaviours to your own work practices.”

Risk Management

(page 8, How to Manage Health & Safety Risks – Code of Practice)

“Risk management is a proactive process that helps you respond to change and facilitate continuous improvement in your business. It should be planned, systematic and cover all reasonably foreseeable hazards and associated risks.”

The process of risk management includes taking “into account the possibility of thoughtlessness, or inadvertence, or carelessness, particularly in the case of repetitive work or mundane tasks” (see Ref 1).

“Determining What is “Reasonably Practicable”

(page 7, How to Manage Health & Safety Risks – Code of Practice)

“Deciding what is ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm requires taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including:

  • the likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned occurring

  • the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk

  • knowledge about the hazard or risk, and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk

  • the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk, and

  • after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.”

The information, tools and guidance in the How to Manage Health & Safety Risks Code of Practice, are excellent and you can be successful in eliminating or minimising risks so far as is “reasonably practicable” by applying the Code in your workplace.


1. Paragraph 83, Andonovski v Park-Tec Engineering Pty Ltd and Barbeques Galore Pty Ltd; Andonovski v East Realisations Pty Ltd (No 6) and Anor [2015] NSWSC 341 (31 March 2015)

2. Quotations from the How to Manage Work Health & Safety Risks Code of Practice used in this article are part of SafeWork NSW’s copyright work that is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 3.0 Australia License. To view a copy of this licence, visit You are free to copy, communicate and adapt the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to SafeWork NSW and abide by the other licence terms.


16th September 2020

How Can You Avoid Having a Serious Incid
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