Managing safety is the best way to prevent injuries in your workplace.
It involves talking with your workers to make your workplace and work practices both safe and efficient. You need to look for situations that have the potential to cause harm or damage – and do something to prevent incidents from happening.
Over the past three years more than 300,000 workers were injured in NSW workplaces. More than 11,000 were permanently disabled and 239 died.
This short video explains the difference between hazards and risks in the workplace.
There are specific laws about managing the risks to the health and safety of everyone in the workplace. Here we summarise those laws and give you some practical tips.
Identify safety risks
Ask your workers about problems they may have encountered, like near misses, aches and pains, and anything else which may concern them about their safety.
Some ways to identify any potential safety problems include:
- taking regular walks around the workplace
- looking how plant and equipment are used
- finding out what chemicals are around and what they are used for
- looking out for unsafe work practices
- examining the general state of housekeeping.
You should also:
- analyse incident reports, worker complaints, reasons for sick leave and the like
- get safety data sheets and instruction manuals from manufacturers and suppliers
- get information from industry associations, unions and us.
Get rid of the problems
The best way to have an injury-free workplace is to get rid of potential safety problems, ideally at the design or planning stage.
If you can’t eliminate the problem completely, you need to minimise the risk to your staff.
Limit the impact of the problem
Do the best you can to do one or more of the following:
- Substitute the problem with something safer – eg replace solvent-based paints with water-based ones.
- Isolate the problem from people – eg install a guard to prevent access to moving parts on a machine.
- Use engineering controls – eg use springs to self-close gates.
Minimise any remaining risk with administrative controls - eg install warning signs.
If a risk still remains, use personal protective equipment – eg ear muffs, face masks, hard hats.
A combination of controls often works well.
Review and revise controls
You must review your risk control measures:
- when the control measure is not working
- before workplace layout or practices are changed
- if a new problem is found
- if consultation shows a review is necessary
- if a health and safety representative requests it.
For the specific laws about managing safety, see clauses 32 - 38 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
There are also general work health and safety laws that will apply to you in any situation, including when managing safety.
For general information about managing risks and keeping records, see the code of practice on how to manage work health and safety risks. It includes a sample risk register suitable for any workplace, and some interesting case studies.