Prepare for new WHS laws

Previously we discussed workers’ compensation and reporting disclosure inclusions for premium assessments.  This month we’ll discuss what you can do to start the process of complying with the new work health and safety (WHS) laws that were introduced on 1 January 2012.

Unless you are considered an exempt employer, legally you must take out workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance protects your business against claims by employees for personal injuries associated within the workplace. In a previous article we shared some important tips on what to include in your insurance assessment.

The introduction of new WHS laws which began on 1 January 2012, may change the way work health and safety is managed in your business and if managed properly, could have a financial benefit for your business.

Every business’ OHS risk is different however some key ideas from WorkCover NSW to ensure safety in the workplace include:

  1. Ensure the business’ Board of Directors and management is committed to safety as this helps set the foundation for a safe workplace. Your co-workers will likely follow your lead if you are clear about safety responsibilities and issue a risk management policy to each employee.
  2. Introduce a Risk Management Committee or appoint a selected representative or OHS specialist, which meets regularly with management and employees. Regular communication and consultation with employees and managers help to ensure strong OHS standards in the workplace. It can also demonstrate a proactive approach to finding and fixing health and safety problems.
  3. Ensuring a disciplined approach to risk management is important. Identifying and assessing risk or potential areas of concern are important steps to managing risk. Employers must eliminate all reasonably foreseeable risks. Where this is not reasonably practicable the risk must be controlled.
  4. Educating employees on the importance of OHS is essential. Induction training must be given when a worker first starts at the workplace. This should cover (at a minimum) how OHS is managed in the workplace, the policy on reporting safety issues, what safe work procedures there are for their tasks and how to control any risks. It is important to provide any information there is available to help them do their job safely eg operator manuals, material safety data sheets etc and provide industry specific guidelines if appropriate.
  5. Proper supervision of workers to ensure their health and safety is necessary. The type and level of supervision required will depend on the competence, experience and age of each worker. Supervision should include checking that safe work procedures are being followed and must be undertaken by a competent person.
  6. Implementing an ongoing reporting process and procedure for bringing safety issues to the attention of the Directors and/or management is essential. Some incidents, such as those involving serious injury, damage to certain plant equipment or property and exposure to certain chemical substances, must be reported to WorkCover and also to their Scheme Agent or Insurer within 48 hours if workers’ compensation is (or is likely to be) payable. It is also required for employers to maintain a “register of injuries” that records workplace injuries.

For any concerns in respect to the new legislation and also business requirements with regards to workers’ compensation, risk management policy and insurance requirements please do not hesitate to contact us.


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About Author

Tanya Moran
Tanya Moran

Tanya Moran is a Senior Partner and the Lead Taxation Partner of Azure Group. She has more than 20 years' experience working with a large array of businesses from small accounting firms to large international corporations.

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