Workplace Health and Safety (WHS)

Creating a safe work environment is critical to the success of your business, and is one of the best ways to retain staff and maximise productivity. Though it may cost to implement safe practices and install safety equipment, the effect of not taking action can be severe.

As a business owner you have responsibilities regarding health and safety in your workplace. You need to ensure that your business doesn't create health and safety problems for your employees, customers or the public.

Knowing and understanding the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws, previously known as occupational health and safety (OH&S), will help you avoid unnecessary costs and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness. It will also provide your business with a strong foundation to achieve long-term success.

If you want to reduce health and safety hazards in your workplace but don't know where to begin, there are simple steps that will allow you to concentrate your efforts as well as help your business to be prepared in all situations.

Having the right attitude towards the safety of your workers, contractors, customers and the public is an important first step. Workplace health & safety (WHS) shouldn't be seen as an additional cost - it's better to deal with health and safety issues before they escalate.

If you're looking for assistance with WHS/OH&S requirements specific to your industry, you can utilise state and territory WHS agencies for advice and kits on how to incorporate safety management into your business operations.

Your Workplace Health and Safety obligations

Under work health and safety (WHS) legislation you are obliged to provide:

  • safe premises
  • safe machinery and materials
  • safe systems of work
  • information, instruction, training and supervision
  • a suitable working environment and facilities.

Complying with these duties can prevent you from being prosecuted and fined, and help you to retain skilled staff.

Workplace health and safety authorities in each state and territory and Safe Work Australia have responsibilities for enforcing the WHS legislation. They provide education, training and advice on health and safety at work. You can get information about your workplace health and safety obligations and other valuable WHS/OH&S resources both in hard copy and online from their websites.

Please note that legal obligations of employers vary according to circumstances. You may wish to seek independent legal advice on what is applicable to your situation.

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