Management Commitment & Actions are Vital for a Safe & Healthy Workplace
Weekly WHS Article 2nd June 2022
The journey to avoiding serious incidents, a 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, WHS Act NSW 2011).
(page 7, Code of Practice How to Manage Health & Safety Risks)
“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.”
“A step-by-step process
A safe and healthy workplace does not happen by chance or guesswork. You have to think about what could go wrong at your workplace and what the consequences could be. Then you must do whatever you can (in other words, whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’) to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks arising from your business or undertaking.
This process is known as risk management and involves the four steps set out in this Code:
Identify hazards—find out what could cause harm.
Assess risks, if necessary—understand the nature of the harm that could be caused by the hazard, how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening. This step may not be necessary if you are dealing with a known risk with known controls.
Control risks – implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances and ensure it remains effective over time.
Review hazards and control measures to ensure they are working as planned.
This process will be implemented in different ways depending on the size and nature of your business or undertaking. Larger businesses and those in sectors where workers are exposed to more or higher risks are likely to need more complex, sophisticated risk management processes.
Examples demonstrating how to manage work health and safety risks in consultation with workers are at Appendix B.”
(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 Note 2).
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.
Note 1. 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 www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/au. 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.
2. Paragraph 83, Andonovski v Park-Tec Engineering Pty Ltd and Barbeques Galore Pty Ltd; Andonovski v East Realisations Pty Ltd (No 6) and Anor  NSWSC 341 (31 March 2015) http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWSC/2015/341.html