Management Commitment can Achieve Effective WHS Risk Management
Weekly WHS Article 13th April 2023
Health and safety risks must be managed so that they are eliminated or minimised so far as is “reasonably practicable”. That is a duty of the PCBU (Section 17, WHS Act NSW). 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.
Management Commitment is Essential
The Code of Practice How to Manage Health & Safety Risks at page 7, provides sound advice on management commitment;
“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.”
Accountability for Health & Safety
PCBUs need to use and be able to rely on their Managers and Supervisors to carry out those actions that will help the PCBU to achieve compliance with its WHS duties and obligations.
For example, the Code of Practice, How to Manage Work Health & Safety Risks, has useful guidance at page 23 about PCBUs giving authority and resources to Managers and Supervisors.
“Accountability for health and safety –Managers and supervisors should be provided with the authority and resources to implement and maintain control measures effectively. Accountability should be clearly allocated to ensure procedures are followed and maintained.”
Effective Consultation with Workers is Essential
“Management commitment and open communication between managers and workers is important in achieving effective consultation. Your workers are more likely to engage in consultation when their knowledge and ideas are actively sought and concerns about health and safety are taken seriously.” (SafeWork NSW Code of Practice, Work Health & Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination, page13)
Managers and Supervisors may have an important part to play in the PCBU being able to comply with the mandatory WHS consultation required by the WHS Act (section 47).
Consultation procedures can vary from one workplace to another so a PCBU may require Managers and Supervisors to consult directly on behalf of the PCBU with workers, and/or with their Health & Safety Representatives, and/or as management representatives on the Health & Safety Committee.
Competent Managers, Supervisors & Workers
The PCBU needs to ensure that their Managers, Supervisors and Workers are competent and active in maintaining health and safety in their workplace. And that is achieved through training. If they do not know, understand, and implement required health and safety actions then the PCBU will be in breach of their primary duty of care (Section 19).
The quotations from the, How to Manage Work Health & Safety Risks Code of Practice, and the Work Health & Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination, Code of Practice, are the copyright work of SafeWork NSW and are used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence (CC BY 3.0). To view a copy of this licence, visit www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/au/
13th April 2023
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