Creating Safe Workplaces

How to provide a safe work environment

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all employees, free from any hazards and complying with all state and federal laws.

Health and safety in the workplace is about preventing work-related injury and disease, and designing an environment that promotes well-being for everyone at work.

Knowledge is the key ingredient in providing a safe work environment—if everyone knows the correct procedures then accidents and injuries can be kept to a minimum.

The following checklists are also available to help you provide a safe working environment:

Employer responsibilities with health and safety

Occupational health and safety procedures must be implemented wherever the work is being conducted, be that in an office, factory, construction site or home.

You should develop and have in place an occupational health and safety policy to meet the following standards:

  • ensure that the way work is done is safe and does not affect employees’ health
  • ensure that tools, equipment and machinery are safe and are kept safe
  • ensure that ways of storing, transporting or working with dangerous substances is safe and does not damage employees’ health
  • provide employees with the information, instruction and training they need to do their job safely and without damaging their health
  • consult with employees about health and safety in the workplace
  • monitor the work place regularly and keep a record of what is found during the checks.

Policies should be developed in consultation with all employees. In some instances it may be necessary to organise support persons or interpreters for employees with disability so that all employees may participate in the consultation process.

It is important that you check your relevant state or territory legislation for more specific guidelines as health and safety legislation can be different in each state and territory, and specific industry sectors may also have precise requirements.

Tips for a safe working environment

When a new employee starts with your organisation, it is important that they are aware of the occupational health and safety policies and procedures so that they are able to complete their job requirements safely. You should consider:

  • briefing all new employees on occupational health and safety policy at induction
  • providing a training session to new employees on all safety procedures, including evacuation and other emergency procedures
  • making reasonable adjustments if required, e.g. providing clear markings and colour contrasts on steps or pathways, building a ramp to allow access to a building and providing a parking space close to the place of employment for an employee in a wheelchair.

Safe working practices should also be reviewed and emphasised with all employees on a regular and ongoing basis.

To ensure that everyone knows the correct health and safety procedures, and that all employees, including new employees, have access to information about safety procedures, you should:

  • ensure that employees have access to information in appropriate formats, for example, screen reading software, enlarged font, audio and Braille
  • provide regular information updates and re-training sessions
  • provide access to information about safety procedures
  • conduct relevant training on any new equipment or machinery.

Managing a return to work

If you have an employee who is returning to work after an injury, you may also want to consider reviewing and modifying the job procedures if required. The employee should also be re-trained on all procedures, including safety and evacuation procedures.

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