Employees are a company's greatest asset an employer has to assist in achieving business objectives, as well as meeting legal and moral obligations in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. Creating a safe work environment is critical to the success of your business, and one of the best ways to retain staff and maximise productivity. In 2013-14, 531,800 people experienced a work-related injury or illness.
To ensure you get the best out of your employees, it is essential that they are all provided with appropriate training on all aspects of their work including health and safety. Although it costs to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the consequences of not taking action can be extremely severe.
Occupational Health and Safety Training (OHS) is a great way for employees to learn additional skills and knowledge and to reinforce quality work practices which will result in a change in workplace behaviour. Investing in effective employee training will increase skills, knowledge, productivity and morale as well as replace and avoid workplace incidents.
The Importance of OHS Training
Although there is the basic instinctive regard for our health and safety and for others around us, there are many other reasons to make occupation health and safety a priority in the workplace, this includes:
- Community expectations that organisations have a responsibility for those that work for them.
- Legal obligations.
- Insurable costs such as worker’s compensation premium that is linked to OHS performance.
- Uninsurable costs such as lost time injury and reduced productivity, staff replacement, retraining costs as well as loss of business reputation.
- Costs to the community, such as health services, rehabilitation and loss of skilled labour.
- Costs to employees through reduced quality of life as a result of workplace injury and disease, reduced income for the injured and their family and grief by everyone involved.
Health and Safety Representatives
Health and safety representatives (HSRs) are those elected to represent workers in the company on health and safety matters. HSRs facilitate the flow of information about health and safety between the company and the workers. Their role is to monitor the health and safety actions taken by the business, investigate any workers complaints and look into anything that might be a risk to the health and safety of the workers they represent.
Once a HSR has completed approved HSR training they are also able to direct unsafe work to cease when they have a reasonable concern that carrying out the work could expose a worker to a serious risk or injury. However, the direction to cease all work can only be given if the issue has not been resolved by consultation.
Health and safety representatives are a crucial role in making employee’s safer at work as they bring your employees’ OHS concerns to your attention where you otherwise may not have been aware. They also observe where potential hazards might exist in the workplace that you may not yet have noticed. HSRs also encourage all employees to use safe work practices and as they are elected by your employees, your employees will, therefore, feel more comfortable to approach and speak to them about any worries or concerns.
Employer’s Obligation to HSRs
A person conducting a business or undertaking should provide full support for the HSR and must:
- Allow the HSR adequate time at normal pay to carry out their role.
- Consult and converse with the HSR on work health and safety issues, such as proposing measures to eliminate or minimise risk.
- llow the HSR to access information about hazards and risks in the workplace as well as information relating to the health and safety of the workers in the workplace.
- Allow the HSR to be present at an interview relating to work health and safety issues if a worker consents.
- Grant five days initial training for the HSR if requested, with a training provider approved by WorkCover and, grant one day annual refresher training if requested.
Occupational and Environmental Health Professionals - Median Salary $112,022
Occupational and Environmental Health Professionals develop, implement and evaluate policies and programs to monitor environmental health and occupational health and safety and related legislation to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, and assist injured staff through the workers’ compensation and rehabilitation process. Future employment within this industry is expected to rise very strongly and with great job opportunities.
Health and Safety Inspectors - Median Salary $82,937
Health and Safety Inspectors inspect machines, equipment, working conditions and public places to ensure compliance with government and industry standards and regulations, in relation to occupational health and safety. Future employment for this industry is expected to increase moderately with many job opportunities.
For those that are passionate about improving safety in the workplace and looking to begin a career as an OHS safety officer or inspector, then look no further than an entry level Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety (BSB41412) qualification. This course is especially suited to those who already oversee workplace health and safety in their workplace or those who are interesting in making this their career. Here is a list of some of the topics you will cover:
- Hazard and identification and risk control
- Emergency and incident response
- Systematic WHS management
- Management of WHS contractors
- WHS initiatives
- Claims management, rehabilitation and return to work programs
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