As a Small Business owner, what are your first thoughts when I say “Workplace Health…
Are You Reducing Workplace Risk in Your Business?
As a business owner, you are legally obliged to follow workplace health and safety measures. But how can you reduce risk and get your workers involved in creating a healthy and happy environment?
According to Safe Work Australia, the cost of work-related injury and disease to the Australian economy is $61.8 billion. Some 77% of these expenses are borne by workers, representing a staggering amount of lost revenue and highlighting the need for all businesses to consider their policies on workplace health and safety.
While at first, it might seem like a chore, identifying risk and its prevention is perhaps the most essential step a business owner can take in mitigating work-related injury and disease.
Managing risks helps businesses:
- Retain staff.
- Maximise productivity.
- Minimise sick leaves and absenteeism.
- Reduce the costs of injury and workers’ compensation claims and premiums.
Most importantly, you have a legal responsibility as an owner to meet health and safety standards as soon as you start your business. It involves ensuring a safe environment for your employees, contractors, volunteers, visitors, customers and the public.
So how do you meet your obligations as an owner?
We look at a three-step process for a business owner to assess the workplace:
1. Identifying potential hazards.
Take a look around your workplace and identify any potential hazards. These could include noisy machinery, a moving forklift, chemicals, electricity or working at heights. There are also more psychological hazards such as repetitive tasks or even a problem with workplace bullying. Consult employees about potential hazards; by drawing on the experience, knowledge and ideas of the workers, you can build some practical policies for workplace safety. Additionally, employees should be encouraged to report any hazards or health and safety problems, therefore managing risk before an incident occurs.
2. Assess and control the risks to prevent accidents from happening.
Once the risks have been identified, the next step is to evaluate how harmful they could be and the likelihood of an occurrence. Ask yourself how severe the risk is and what action you should take to control it. Ultimately, the best control measures involve eliminating risk. A couple of examples include:
- Keeping the workplace clean and clutter free to reduce trip and slip hazards.
- Ensuring appropriate training when handling machinery.
- Designating hazardous areas with signage.
- Providing first aid training for staff members.
- Reducing workplace stress by making sure everyone has adequate breaks.
Implementing the above policies will go a long way towards a safer environment. Some risk reduction can be applied right away with minimal cost, time and effort. Other problems may need to be prioritised according to workplace risk level if they require more resources.
3. Reviewing control measures and ensure they are working as planned.
Once all of your measures are in place, it is up to you and your workers to review them on a regular basis to make sure they are still effective. Constant vigilance is especially needed if you work in a fast-paced and physical environment like the construction industry. Scheduling in regular training sessions, fire drills, and producing safety videos for new employees will keep everyone aware of the ongoing need to be vigilant about a healthy workplace.
Although as an owner it is you who is ultimately responsible for following the health and safety code, by involving your work colleagues and employees in the process you can mitigate the risks, ensuring a happy and healthy working environment.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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