Go back 50 years and you’ll see endless stories of employees getting injured in the workplace. With little regard for employee safety, accidents and injuries were a common sight across Australia. Thankfully, this has now changed and businesses across all industries have a responsibility to keep all staff safe while on the premises.
What does this mean? Well, the three levels of government work together to ensure safety for all employees. This includes the Commonwealth, state and territory, and local councils. One of the biggest and most extensive frameworks for these safety standards come in the shape of the WHS Policy.
What’s the WHS Policy?
If you’re confused with all the abbreviations, it could help to learn that the WHS was once the OHS. If you still have a confused look on your face, the OHS was the Occupational Health and Safety standards and it was eventually replaced by the Workplace Health and Safety framework.
Every day, you’ll walk into the workplace and see a little sticker to prove that the microwave had a Test and tag, you’ll find documents in the company files proving that all hazards have been considered, and you’ll probably have sessions on safety at work. The reason that all of these are in place is because of the WHS legislation. Essentially, this holds all businesses accountable for their actions with regards to health and safety.
If you run a business of any kind in Australia, regardless of shape or size, you’ll need to meet the WHS standards if you want to continue operating. Ultimately, these legislations encourage a safe business workplace. However, there are lots of other smaller details that require businesses to ensure that:
- All goods are handled correctly
- Staff have the correct training to perform in their role
- Potential risks have been considered and mitigated
- Practices have been assessed for the security risks
- The workplace environment is maintained to a respectable level
- All worker’s compensation and insurance policies are updated
As a business, it’s important to apply the WHS framework in a way that applies to your business and industry. Depending on your niche, the applicable rules may differ. There are penalties for those who fail to meet these guidelines, and this is how the Australian safety standards have helped to keep the workplace safe for all Australians.
Benefits of the WHS Policy
Over the years, many businesses have complained about the intensity of the WHS policy and the cost of meeting the regulations. Despite this, there are many benefits of the policy. Although it sounds obvious, the first benefit is a safer environment for all workers. Not only does this show that you appreciate and value the employees, but it should also reduce the amount of time they take from work as a result of an injury. In 2016, 182 people died in the workplace; this is compared to 310 in 2007. Therefore, this shows the power of regulations and the statistics would grow even more shocking if we looked back to the 1970s and even further.
What’s more, businesses don’t need to worry about quite so many public liability claims and they don’t pay as much for worker’s compensation. Also, with employees feeling valued and safer, they’re likely to stay with the company for longer. With increased staff retention, productivity increases because you’re not having to constantly train new workers on the job.
Australian safety standards have improved over the years, and the WHS policy is a superb example of how it benefits the safety of workplaces for all Australians.