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Australian Workplace Health & Safety FAQ

 

The following questions and answers to commonly asked questions are designed to give you a better understanding of the terms as they are used.

 

Q. What is Safety?

A. Safety may be defined as ‘freedom from circumstances that cause, or are likely to cause, illness, injury or damage’. A state of safety also exists when, in the case of an incident, there is no risk of injury or illness to a person, nor damage to plant. That is, emergency procedures are in place. The Doug Wakefield definition of safety is: “The ability to take the next breath in the most beautiful and comfortable way!”

 

Q. What is a SWMS?

A. SWMS is a Safe Work Method Statement.

A SWMS is a written document that sets out the high risk construction work activities to be carried out at a workplace, the hazards and risks arising from these activities and the measures to be put in place to control the risks. Its primary purpose is to help supervisors and workers implement and monitor the control measures established at the workplace to ensure high risk construction work is carried out safely.  An example of a SWMS can be found here.

 

 Q. What is a JSA?

A. Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is one of the risk assessment tools used to identify and control workplace hazards.  A JSA is a second tier risk assessment with the aim of preventing personal injury to a person, or their colleagues, and any other person passing or working adjacent, above or below. JSAs are also known as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and Task Hazard Analysis (THA).

 An example of a JSA can be found here.

 

Q. What is a JSEA?

A. A Job Safety and Environmental Analysis (JSEA) is the same as a JSA or a SWMS but also considers the risks to the environment and control measures to minimise these risks. An example of a JSEA can be found here.

 

Q. What is the difference between a SWMS and a JSEA?

A. A Job Safety and Environmental Analysis (JSEA) is essentially the same as a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) but also considers the risks to the environment and control measures to minimise these risks. They all follow the following 3 basic elements:

Job step - what are you going to do?

Potential Hazard – What can go wrong or cause injury to persons or property

Hazard control measure – What are you going to do to make sure it doesn’t go wrong or cause injury.

 

Q. Does JSEAsy produce a SWMS or a JSEA?

A. The JSEAsy software produced a hybrid SWMS/ JSEA document. 
By inserting the steps that you are going to take, in the order that you are going to take them you are creating a Work Method Statement.
By identifying the potential hazards associated with each step and ways to control them you are creating a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) or a Job Safety and Analysis (JSA).
By identifying Environmental Hazards associated with each step and ways to control them you are creating a JOB Safety and Environmental Analysis (JSEA). 

JSEAsy wraps all this into one document.

 

Q. Will the document created from JSEAsy be compliant in my state and with the regulations of my state?

A. Yes. The documents produced from the JSEAsy software are compliant with all stated and all of the different regulations.

 

 Q. Is preparing a SWMS or JSEA mandatory?

A.  Preparing a SWMS is mandatory in some cases as described Division 2 of the WHS Regulations in particular:

Regulation 299: A Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) must be prepared before high risk construction work

Regulation 300: A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure the high risk construction work is carried out in accordance with the SWMS for the work

 

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007An employer must not perform high risk construction work if there is a risk to the health or safety of any person arising from the work, unless a safe work method statement is prepared for the work before the work commences; and the work is performed in accordance with the statement.

 

Q. I am not undertaking High Risk Construction Work. Is preparing a SWMS or JSEA mandatory in my circumstances?

A. Preparing a SWMS is not necessarily mandatory in many instances; however you may find that it may be a good way of ensuring you are meeting your obligations with the Regulations under the Act. Where each state has a different Act and Regulations, they all require us to identify hazards and ways to control them. 

 

South Australia

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012

 The PCBU must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided; and the control measures implemented.

 

Victoria

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 

A person who is required by these Regulations to use any particular measure to control risk must ensure that the measure is properly installed (if applicable), used and maintainedThe employer must make a written record that describes the actions necessary to implement the risk control measure

 

Western Australia

Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984

A person who, at a workplace, is an employer, the main contractor, a self-employed person, a person having control of the workplace or a person having control of access to the workplace must, as far as practicable identify each hazard to which a person at the workplace is likely to be exposed; and assess the risk of injury or harm to a person resulting from each hazard, if any, identified under and consider the means by which the risk may be reduced.

 

NSW

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

The PCBU must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided; and the control measures implemented.

 

Queensland

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

The PCBU must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided; and the control measures implemented

 

Northern Territory

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

The PCBU must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided; and the control measures implemented

 

Tasmania

Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012

 The PCBU must ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate having regard to the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the information, training or instruction is provided; and the control measures implemented.

 

Q. Are my obligations in relation to preparing SWMS or a JSEA the same in every state?

A. In essence your obligations tho manage the risks to health and safety is the same in every state.   The penalties for non-compliance do vary largely from state to state.

 

Q. What Is a Code of Practice?

A. An approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety
and welfare required under the WHS Act and the Work Health and Safety Regulations (the WHS Regulations).

Codes of Practice provide practical guidance on how to meet the standards set out in the WHS Act and the WHS Regulations. Codes of Practice are admissible in proceedings as evidence of whether or not a duty under the WHS laws has been met. They can also be referred to by an inspector when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice.

 

Q. Is a Code of Practice Mandatory?

A. A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code. In most cases, following an approved code of practice would achieve compliance with the health and safety duties in the WHS Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (the OSH Act),  If there is a code of practice about a risk, you must either do what the code says; or adopt and follow another way that gives the same level of protection against the risk.

 

Q. I am self-employed, do I need to prepare a SWMS or JSEA ?

A. Yes. Under the WHS acts and legislations at self-employed person is considered to be a PCBU. Under the OH&S Acts and legislation, a self-employed person must comply with the requirements  as if that person were an employer.

 

Q. What is a PCBU?

A.  Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) – a person conducting a business or undertaking alone or with others, whether or not for profit or gain. A PCBU can be a sole trader (for example a self-employed person), each partner within a partnership, company, unincorporated association or government department of public authority (including a municipal council).

An elected member of a municipal council acting in that capacity is not a PCBU.

A ‘volunteer association’ that does not employ anyone is not a PCBU. If it becomes an employer it also becomes a PCBU for purposes of the WHS Act.

A ‘strata title body corporate’ that does not employ anyone is not a PCBU, in relation to any common areas (it is responsible for) used only for residential purposes. For further information on the meaning of PCBU please refer to the interpretive guideline on PCBUs available at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au 

 

Q. What does my organisation need to do to comply with WHS laws?

A. Under the work health and safety (WHS) laws your organisation it must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all of its workers, including volunteers. This means that the organisation must provide the same protections to its volunteer workers as it does to its paid workers. The protection covers the physical safety and mental health of all workers, including volunteers.

This primary duty on an organisation is qualified by ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This means the organisation does not have to guarantee that no harm will occur, but must do what is reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety. If your organisation is run by volunteers, this is a factor that will be taken into account in determining what is reasonably practicable for the organisation to do in any given circumstance.

 

Q. What is reasonably practicable?

A. Safe Work Australia provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the term ‘reasonably practicable’ in considering the standard of health and safety that a person conducting a business or undertaking (the duty-holder) is expected to meet under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and Regulations.

‘Reasonably practicable’ is used to qualify duties to ensure health and safety and certain other duties in the WHS Act and Regulation. This standard and what is required to meet it in relation to a health and safety duty are set out in section 18.

 

Q. How is ‘reasonably practicable’ defined?

A. In this context, reasonably practicable means that which is, or was at a particular time, reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters including:

(a) the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring

(b) the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or the risk

(c) what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk, and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk

(d) the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk, and

(e) after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

 

Q. Do I have to identify hazards under the WHS regulations?

A. Regulation 34 states that a duty holder, in managing risks to health and safety, must identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to risks to health and safety.

 

Q. What is the Hierarchy of Controls?

A. Some control measures are more effective than others. Control measures can be ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. This ranking is known as the hierarchy of control. The higher order controls must always be considered first. 

Eliminating the risk

This means removing the hazard or hazardous work practice from the workplace. This is the most effective control measure and must always be considered before anything else. For example, eliminate the risk of a fall from a height by doing the work at ground level.

If elimination of the risk is not reasonably practicable, you must consider using substitution, isolation or engineering controls, or a combination of these control measures, to minimise the risk.

 

Minimising the risk by using one of the following control measures

Substitution

Minimise the risk by substituting or replacing a hazard or hazardous work practice with a less hazardous one. For example:

  • Substituting a two-part epoxy substance with a water-based acrylic waterproofing system will minimise exposure to a hazardous substance;
  • Substituting an ordinary brick-cutting saw blade with a noise-reduced saw blade will minimise exposure to hazardous noise; and
  • Using a water-based paint rather than a solvent-based paint. Minimise the risk by isolating or separating the hazard or hazardous work practice from people. For example:

Isolation

Minimise the risk by isolating or separating the hazard or hazardous work practice from people. For example:

  • Isolating a mobile plant work zone from workers and/or the public with physical barriers to minimise the risk of contact occurring between a person and the mobile plant.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls are physical control measures to minimise risk. For example:

  • Carrying tools from one level to another with a material hoist or craning material will minimise the risk of workers developing a musculoskeletal disorder.
  • Benching, battering or shoring the sides of the excavation will minimise the risk of a person being trapped and prevent the excavation from collapsing.
  • Enclosing an open cab excavator, for example using a falling object protective structure (FOPS) or a roll-over protective structure (ROPS), will minimise the risk of an operator being struck by a falling object or being crushed if the excavator rolls over.
  • Using safety switches or residual current devices (RCD) to minimise the risk of electric shock.

 

Minimising the risk using administrative controls

Administrative controls should only be considered when other higher order control measures are not practicable, or to increase protection from the hazard. These are work methods or procedures designed to minimise the exposure to a hazard, such as ensuring there is no unauthorised entry of a person to a work area. For example:

  • Using a ‘keep out’ sign and a person to secure an exclusion zone when dismantling scaffolding to minimise the risk of people entering the work area and being struck by a falling object.
  • Scheduling tasks so they are completed outside peak UV radiation times to reduce exposure to UV radiation.
  • Implementing a training program to show workers how to use new equipment.
  • Implementing a job rotation system.
  • Using permit systems to prevent unauthorised persons from entering a confined space.

Minimising the risk using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is the lowest order control measure in the hierarchy of controls. PPE should also only be considered when other higher order control measures are not reasonably practicable or to increase protection from the hazard.

PPE relies on the proper fit and use of the PPE and does nothing to change the hazard itself. It therefore requires thorough training and effective supervision to ensure compliance and effectiveness. Examples of PPE include:

  • Wide brimmed hats that shade face, head, neck and ears (where hard hats are required then it should be a hard hat brim or neck flap), sunglasses and broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to minimise the exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  • High visibility reflective clothing or vests.
  • Ear plugs or ear muffs to minimise the risk of exposure to excessive noise when operating noisy machinery and power tools.

 

Combination of control measures

In many cases a combination of control measures may be implemented to control a risk. When selecting and implementing a combination of control measures it is important to consider whether any new risks might be introduced as a result and, if so, whether the combination of the control measures should be reviewed.

Example 1

 To manage the risk of a fall when a worker is removing old roofing on a building under demolition, control measures may include the following:

  • determine whether the roof can be demolished from the ground (elimination)
  • if this is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risk of a fall by working off scissor lifts and/or elevating work platforms (engineering control)
  • provide training on site rules and SWMS about work at heights (administrative control).

Example 2

To manage the risk of persons working in the same area from being struck by mobile plant, control measures may include:

  • using traffic lights instead of a traffic controller to control traffic at road works (elimination)
  • replacing an item of mobile plant which has a restricted field of vision to one that has a clear field of vision (substitution)
  • using zero tail swing excavators rather than conventional tail swing excavators (substitution)
  • segregating the work processes through distance and time (isolation)
  • installing collision avoidance technology (in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions) when the vehicle is reversing (engineering)
  • developing and implementing a traffic management plan for any traffic control being carried out (administrative)
  • requiring all workers to wear high visibility reflective clothing or vests (PPE).

 

Under the WHS Regulations:

Regulation 36 sets out the hierarchy of control measures which must be implemented to minimise risks to health and safety if it is not reasonably practicable for a duty holder to eliminate risks to health and safety.

Sub-regulation 36(2) requires that a duty holder implement risk control measures in accordance with regulation 36.

Sub-regulation 36(3) specifies that a duty holder must minimise risk, so far as is reasonably practicable by undertaking one or more of:

• substituting the hazard giving rise to the risk with something that gives rise to a lesser risk,

• isolating the hazard from any person exposed to the hazard, and

• implementing engineering controls.

 

Sub-regulation 36(4) provides that if a risk then remains, the duty holder must minimise the remaining risk, so far as is reasonably practicable, by implementing administrative controls.

Sub-regulation 36(5) states that if a risk still remains the duty holder must minimise the remaining risk, so far as is reasonably practicable, by ensuring the provision and use of suitable personal protective equipment.

Regulation 36 also notes that a duty holder may use a combination of control measures to minimise a risk, so far as is reasonably practicable, if a single control measure is not sufficient for the purpose.

Hierarchy of Controls

 

Q. Who is responsible for preparing a SWMS?

A. A person conducting a business or undertaking must prepare a SWMS—or ensure a SWMS has been prepared—before high risk construction work starts.

The person responsible for carrying out the high risk construction work is best placed to prepare the SWMS in consultation with workers who will be directly engaged in the high risk construction work. This person understands the work being carried out, is responsible for providing training, instruction and supervision to the workers undertaking the work and can ensure the SWMS is implemented, monitored and reviewed correctly. If more than one person has the duty to ensure a SWMS is or has been prepared, they must consult with each other to co-ordinate who will be responsible for actually preparing it.

 

Q. What content should a SWMS contain?

A. Regulation 299(2): A safe work method statement must:

  • identify the work that is high risk construction work
  • specify hazards relating to the high risk construction work and risks to health and safety associated with those hazards
  • describe the measures to be implemented to control the risks, and
  • describe how the control measures are to be implemented, monitored and reviewed.

An example of the information to be included in a SWMS can be found here.

 

Q. What is the process of risk management associated with construction work?

A. The first step in the risk management process is to identify the hazards associated with construction work. . Examples of hazards include:

  • the construction workplace itself, including its location, layout, condition and accessibility
  • the use of ladders, incorrectly erected equipment, unguarded holes, penetrations and voids, unguarded excavations, trenches, shafts and lift wells, unstable structures such as incomplete scaffolding or mobile platforms, fragile and brittle surfaces such as cement sheet roofs, fibreglass roofs, skylights and unprotected formwork decks
  • falling objects, for example tools, debris and equipment
  • collapse of trenches
  • structural collapse
  • the handling, use, storage, and transport or disposal of hazardous chemicals
  • the presence of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials
  • welding fumes, gases and arcs
  • hazardous manual tasks
  • the interface with other works or trade activities
  • the physical working environment, for example the potential for electric shock, immersion or engulfment, fire or explosion, slips, trips and falls, people being struck by moving plant, exposure to noise, heat, cold, vibration, radiation (including solar UV radiation), static electricity or a contaminated atmosphere, and the presence of a confined space.

Assessing the risk includes considering:

  • the severity of any injury or illness that could occur, for example is it a small isolated hazard that could result in a very minor injury or is it a significant hazard that could have wide ranging and severe affects, and
  • the likelihood or chance that someone will suffer an illness or injury, for example consider the number of people exposed to the hazard.

Controlling the risks

The WHS Regulation may require specific control measures to be implemented in certain circumstances. For example, the risk of collapse of trenches 1.5 metres or more in depth must be controlled with shoring, benching or battering. Where specific controls are prescribed, these must be implemented before work proceeds

 

Q.  What is a Site WHS management plan?

A. A WHS management plan is a written plan that sets out the arrangements for managing some site health and safety matters. The intention of a WHS management plan is to ensure the required processes are in place to manage the risks associated with a complex construction project, as there are usually many contractors and subcontractors involved and circumstances can change quickly from day to day.

The WHS management plan must be in writing and must be prepared by the principal contractor before a project commences. It should be easily understood by workers (including contractors and subcontractors). It may not be necessary to communicate the entire WHS management plan to all workers; however, they must be made aware of the parts that are applicable to the work they are carrying out. 

 

Q.  What must the Site WHS management plan contain?

A. The WHS Management Plan must contain:

  • names of persons at the workplace whose positions or roles involve specific health and safety responsibilities, for example site supervisors, project managers, first aid officers
  • arrangements for consultation, cooperation and coordination
  • arrangements for managing incidents
  • site-specific health and safety rules and how people will be informed of the rules
  • arrangements to collect and assess, monitor and review SWMS.

It may also include information on:

  • the provision and maintenance of a hazardous chemicals register, safety data sheets and hazardous chemicals storage
  • the safe use and storage of plant
  • the development of a construction project traffic management plan
  • obtaining and providing essential services information
  • workplace security and public safety
  • ensuring workers have appropriate licences and training to undertake the construction work.

 

Q. What is required to manage risks in construction work?

 A. Regulation 297: A person conducting a business or undertaking must manage risks associated with the carrying out of construction work.

Regulation 32–38: In order to manage risk under the WHS Regulations, a duty holder must:

  • identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to the risk
  • eliminate the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by implementing control measures
  • maintain the control measure so that it remains effective, and
  • review, and if necessary revise, control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.

 

Q. Do I need to consult my workers about WHS under the WHS Legislation?

 A. Section 47: The WHS Act requires the PCBU to consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for them who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a work health and safety matter.

Section 48: If the workers are represented by a health and safety representative, the consultation must involve that representative.

 

Q. Is a subcontractor defined as a worker under the WHS Legislation?

A. The broad definition of a ‘worker’ under the WHS Act means that a PCBU must consult with their employees and anyone else who carries out work for their business or undertaking, including contractors, apprentices, subcontractors and their employees. The builder and sub-contractors, as PCBUs, share this duty.

 

Q. What is “Consultation” under the WHS Legislation?

 A.  ‘Consultation’ includes:

  • sharing information with workers
  • giving them a reasonable opportunity to express their views and raise issues
  • giving them a reasonable opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process
  • considering the views of the workers
  • advising workers of the outcome of the consultation.

 Some of the matters that should be discussed with workers include

  • identifying risks to work safety at the workplace
  • measures to be taken to manage risks, such as permit to work systems, SWMS, WHS management plans
  • adequacy of facilities
  • proposing changes that may directly affect work safety
  • policies and procedures, such as site safety rules and incident notification.

 

Q. Is a white card (General construction induction training) mandatory?

 A. Yes under the WHS Regulation 316–317: If a worker has either not successfully completed general construction induction training, or has successfully completed general construction induction training more than 2 years previously but has not carried out construction work in the preceding 2 years, a person conducting a business or undertaking must:

  • not direct or allow the worker to carry out construction work, and
  • ensure that general construction induction training is provided to a worker engaged by the person who is carrying out construction work.

 

Q. What are the duties of workers under the WHS Act?

 A. While at work, a worker must—

  1. take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and
  2. take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons; and
  3. comply, so far as the worker is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the person conducting the business or undertaking to allow the person to comply with this Act; and
  4. cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure of the person conducting the business or undertaking relating to health or safety at the workplace that has been notified to workers.

 

Q. When do I have to report work-related injuries and incidents to WorkSafe (WA)?

A.  When serious injuries, accidents, and certain types of diseases occur at a workplace, it must be reported to WorkSafe. There are no exemptions for the self-employed, family business and small business. Reporting must be done by the relevant employer whenever these occur in connection with their business.

Work related deaths and certain types of injuries and diseases must be reported to WorkSafe. Failure to report could lead to prosecution. Reporting must be done by the relevant employer whenever these occur in connection with their business.

Relevant employers include the self-employed, principal contractors and labour hire agents. In some cases, WorkSafe will require notification of the same reportable death, injury or disease by different ‘relevant employers’. Reporting is also required, in some circumstances, if a worker suffers death, injury or disease at employer provided residential premises (as described under s23G(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act).

The types of injuries that must be reported are:

  • a fracture of the skull, spine or pelvis;
  • a fracture of any bone in the arm (other than in the wrists or hand) or in the leg (other than a bone in the ankle or foot);
  • an amputation of an arm, a hand, finger, finger joint, leg, foot, toe or toe joint;
  • the loss of sight of an eye; and
  • any injury other than the above which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within 10 days of the day on which the injury occurred.

Types of diseases that must be reported are:

  • infectious diseases: tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, Legionnaires’ disease and HIV, where these diseases are contracted during work involving exposure to human blood products, body secretions, excretions or other material which may be a source of infection; and
  • occupational zoonoses: Q fever, anthrax, leptospiroses and brucellosis, where these diseases are contracted during work involving the handling of, or contact with, animals, animal hides, skins, wool, hair, carcases or animal waste products.

Notification of injuries and diseases must be made using the appropriate notification form.

 

Q. Do I have to have my harness and personal equipment inspected?

 A.  Yes. In accordance with AS/NZS 1891.1 & AS/NZS 1891.4 and inspection must be carried out by a competent person.

 The following items shall be subjected to inspection by the operator of each item before and after each use to ensure that it is in a serviceable condition:

(a) Personal equipment—harnesses, lanyard assemblies, connectors, fall-arrest devices.

(b) Common use equipment—ropes, slings, fall-arrest devices, mobile attachment devices together with any other items in Item (a) above that are provided for common use.

 Inspection shall be by sight and touch. It shall include the opening of any equipment where access for daily inspection is provided, to ensure that internal components are in satisfactory condition. This requirement includes the opening or removal of temporary rope or line protectors, to enable rope to be properly inspected. Operation of the locking mechanism on fall-arrest devices shall also be checked.

 It should be impressed upon operators that their lives depend upon the continued efficiency and durability of their equipment and that a proper inspection at each time of use is their first line of defence against the hazards of faulty equipment.

WHS- Form 28 - Anchor Strap Inspection

WHS- Form 29 – Harness Inspection

WHS- Form 30 – Adjustable Rope Line Inspection 

WHS- Form 31 – Shock Absorbing Lanyard Inspection

WHS- Form 35 - Horizontal Safety Line Inspection

 

Q. How often do I have to have my harness and personal equipment inspected?

A.  In accordance with AS/NZS 1891.1 & AS/NZS 1891.4 inspections must be carried as listed in the table below:

 

Application

Activity

Personal equipment including harnesses, lanyard assemblies, connectors, fall-arrest devices including common use devices

Inspection by operator before and after each use

Fall-arrest devices—external check only

3-monthly inspection by competent person

Belts, harnesses, lanyard assemblies and associated personal equipment

6-monthly inspection by competent person*

Permanently installed anchorages

12-monthly inspection/service by competent person*

Fall-arrest devices—full service including dismantling where indicated

12-monthly inspection/service by competent person*

Horizontal lifelines and rails, including integral components and permanently installed mobile attachment devices

12-monthly inspection/service by competent person*

 * Or more frequently if recommended by the manufacturer or supplier

 

Q. Do I have to have a drugs and alcohol policy?

 

A. An employer has a legal obligation to address alcohol and other drug issues in the workplace through the ‘duty of care’ provisions in the WHS and OHS Acts. These provisions require employers to take all reasonable or ‘practicable’ steps to ensure the health and safety of all workers and any other people who may be affected by the actions of the employer, such as contractors or clients.

 Drugs and Alcohol Policy

 

Q. What is a Hazard?

A. A Hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm

 

Q. What is the Hazard Identification and Assessment Process?

 A. According to the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, employers are required to assess a work site for existing and potential hazards before work begins.

The Hazard Identification and Assessment process will impact many other elements of the Health and Safety Management System. As a result, it is important to take the time necessary to do the job thoroughly. Hazard assessment data can also be used to develop other elements of a Health and Safety Management System, including:

Incident Investigations: hazard assessment and control data can be used to help determine if a system failure was the cause of an incident

Emergency Response: use hazard assessments to help pinpoint areas that will require Emergency Response Plans.

Work Site Inspections: use hazard assessment data as the basis for inspection checklists.

Training and Orientation: use hazard assessment data to determine what worker training needs to be done, and to build the content of employee orientations and job-specific training.

 

Q. How do I identify Hazards?

A. Occupational hazards are divided into two categories:

Health Hazards: A health hazard may produce serious and immediate (acute) health effects or cause long-term (chronic) health problems. All or part of the body may be affected. Someone with an occupational illness may not recognize the symptoms immediately. For example, noise-induced hearing loss is often not noticed until it is well advanced.

Safety Hazards: A safety hazard is anything that could endanger the immediate safety of an employee, for example, a pinch point, crush, or burn hazard.

Hazard Categories Both health and safety hazards can be classified into the following categories:

Physical hazards, including lifting, repetitive motions, slipping, machinery, working at heights, loud noise, extreme temperatures, etc.

Chemical Hazards, including exposure to chemicals, dusts, fumes, mists and vapours.

Biological Hazards, including exposure to viruses, fungi, bacteria, moulds, body fluids, and sewage.

Psychological Hazards, including violence, stress and fatigue.

 

Q. What is the difference between Hazard and Risk?

A. The terms “hazard” and “risk” are often used interchangeably (and incorrectly). A hazard is a situation, condition, or behaviour that has the potential to cause an injury or loss. For example, ice on a walkway, oven mitts with burn holes, or an unlabelled bottle of liquid are hazards. In contrast, risk is the chance of injury, damage, or loss and is usually expressed as a probability. For example, the risk of slipping on the icy walkway is high.

 

Q. What is a Hazard Report Form used for?

A. A hazard report form is used when workers have identified a potential hazard that cannot be simply and immediately fixed.

 

Q. What is Imminent Danger?

A. Some hazards are significant enough to present a situation of imminent danger. The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that workers stop performing work if they believe that an imminent danger to their health and safety exists. Imminent danger in relation to any occupation means a danger that is not normal for that occupation, or a danger under which a person engaged in that occupation would not normally carry out the work

 

Q. What are the sources of Hazards?

A. There are many sources of hazards in a workplace, however, the three most likely sources that should be considered are:

Workplace Environment: Factors such as facility layout, ventilation and lighting, walking surfaces, temperature and other variables can all be sources of hazards.

Equipment and Materials: Some equipment, tools and materials used in the job process are inherently hazardous, and others become hazardous over time due to inadequate maintenance, storage, or disposal.

People: Lack of training, poor communication, rushing, fatigue, and other factors may cause at-risk behaviours.

 

Q. What is Due Diligence?

A.  Usually relating to ‘Officers’ of the PCBU, but it is handy for all to pay attention to Section 27(5) of the Act, which defines ‘due diligence’ as:

  …taking reasonable steps:

  1. to acquire and keep up‑to‑date knowledge of work health and safety matters; and 
  2. to gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the business or undertaking of the person conducting the business or undertaking and generally of the hazards and risks associated with those operations; and
  3. to ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has available for use, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking; and
  4. to ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risks and responding in a timely way to that information; and
  5. to ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has, and implements, processes for complying with any duty or obligation of the person conducting the business or undertaking under this Act; and
  6. to verify the provision and use of the resources and processes referred to in paragraphs (c) to (e).

 

Examples:  For the purposes of paragraph (e), the duties or obligations under this Act of a person conducting a business or undertaking may include:

  1. reporting notifiable incidents;consulting with workers;
  2. ensuring compliance with notices issued under this Act;
  3. ensuring the provision of training and instruction to workers about work health and safety;
  4. ensuring that health and safety representatives receive their entitlements to training.

 

 

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