Work health and Safety
It doesn’t matter who we are or our particular role or where we work or how much we earn (or how much we don’t earn!). We are all required to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others and to cooperate with any directions or procedures that exist.
If we work in a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), then we have a legal duty to work within:
- the legislation
- our RTO’s codes of practice
- our RTO’s WHS management standards
What’s more, as a trainer/assessor, we must not only fulfil our duty of care on behalf of the RTO, we must also be able to prove that we did fulfil the duty.
Duty of Care Responsibilities
From 2012, all Australian States and Territories will have consistent laws related to WHS. Part of this harmonisation was the decision to refer to it as Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) instead of Work Health & Safety (WHS), however common sense tells us that the two are interchangeable for our purpose.
Let’s look at an example.
The scope of the WHS regulations cover:
- obligations for all workplaces in terms of risk management and consultation
- the control of common hazards in the work environment including plant and hazardous substances
- the control of specific activities such as hazardous processes, construction work and certification of plant operators
- the administration of licensing, permits and notification.
Duty of care responsibility requires any organisation to ensure work is done safely by providing:
- a safe work environment
- a safe learning and assessment environment
- safe systems of work
- safe plant and equipment
- communication about safety requirements
- information about hazards
- supervision, instruction and training.
Senior and middle managers must ensure everyone in their organisation understands the relevant provisions of the WHS legislation and codes of practice.
Since we are all responsible for each other, it is very important that we share information that can make our jobs easier and safer and healthier.
There are three important aspects of the relevant WHS Acts at Commonwealth and State levels:
- information, explanation, understanding and communication of WHS policies, procedures and programs
- risk assessment in the form of thought and planning put into place before a task is undertaken
- consultation to ensure that all involved in the activity are included in the planning process and have the opportunity to contribute.
These aspects allow all employees to be involved, voice an opinion, and have ownership in how WHS is put into practice as they complete their work tasks. The greater the understanding and the wider the range of opinions, the greater the range of ideas and options put forward.
Ensure Information about WHS is communicated effectively.
It is the responsibility of the organisation and its management to ensure that all employees understand their obligations in fulfilling their duty of care. Forums for the dissemination of information may include inductions, team briefs, formal meetings and contribution to the development of safe working systems. Safety responsibilities may also be identified in role descriptions, and/or standard operating procedures.
We have both an ethical and a legal obligation to address work health and safety (WHS) matters with participants at the beginning of the delivery. All Australian states and territories are subject to work health and safety laws under both Federal and State Acts and must be followed. Those who break the laws may be liable to prosecution.
It is part of our responsibility as a facilitator to inform our participants at the beginning of delivery of the information shown in the following table.
What You Must Do
Give clear directions to allow participants to easily find or access their comfort needs. Confirm that adequate provision has been made for any participants with physical disabilities.
Tea/coffee- making facilities
Explain the location and caution participants against any dangers. Warn participants, for example, that an urn is hot and will burn if touched. If catering will be provided, advise participants when the session breaks are planned and what will be provided for them.
Explain the emergency evacuation procedures.
These are also an WHS issue, as a perception of unfair treatment can constitute a risk to a participant's mental health. Information should be provided in preliminary course material, but trainers must ensure that participants know how to take further any issues about their treatment.
Obtain Input and Commitment from the Work Group
The consultation and communication requirements of the relevant Work Health and Safety Acts include:
- sharing relevant information about WHS and welfare with employees
- providing opportunities for employees to express their views
- allocating sufficient time for the resolution of WHS issues
- demonstrating that employees’ views are valued and taken into account.
Training managers need to encourage and support the ideas of their section, work group or team. The organisation should also ensure appropriate training and skilling is available. The training manager has the responsibility to support the implementation of WHS and to build awareness of the potential negative consequences of safety breaches or incidents.