Occupational Health and Safety for businesses

Find out what you need to know about Occupational Health and Safety in the time that it takes to buy movie tickets.

In the time it takes to buy movie tickets and decide whether you’d prefer a chocolate or vanilla choc-top, this article will help you understand occupational health and safety.

No need for popcorn – this will only take about three minutes to read.

As a small business owner, you’ll find yourself confronted with a variety of acronyms. So, what do you need to know about Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)?

OHS, which is sometimes referred to as WHS (Workplace Health and Safety), involves the assessment of potential risks in the workplace. It also involves putting measures in place to keep your employees safe at work.

It’s important to remember that as an employer, you have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for your employees. That’s where OHS comes in.


Understanding business OHS obligations


OHS standards are built on policies developed by Safe Work Australia on behalf of the government. These policies often go through Federal and State Government to become law.

As laws vary across the country, each state also has their own SafeWork or Worksafe body. These organisations inform OHS policy at a state level, as well as communicate OHS changes to the community.

These bodies make sure that businesses are kept up to date with the safest work practices, so that Australian workplaces can be as safe as possible.

Under Australian OHS legislation, businesses are legally obliged to:

  • Provide safe work premises
  • Assess risks and take appropriate measures for controlling them
  • Make sure goods and substances are used and handled in a safe way
  • Provide and maintain safe machinery and materials
  • Assess workplace layout and provide safe systems of work
  • Provide a suitable working environment and facilities
  • Have insurance and workers’ compensation insurance for your employees

Benefits of OHS


Creating a safe work environment can also have lots of benefits for your business. Some of them might include:

  • Helping you keep great staff
  • Making sure employees can be productive and efficient
  • Lowering the risk of injury and illness in the workplace
  • Reducing the costs of injury and workers’ compensation
  • Spending less time managing or finding cover for injured employees

Differences in OHS for different businesses


As OHS standards are based around different business activities and how risky they are for workers or the environment, OHS requirements will vary from industry to industry. You’ll also find that your OHS responsibilities could change as new policies come into place.

As an employer, one of the best things you can do to keep on top of all this is staying up to date with changes in OHS policy on the Safe Work Australia website.

Top 3 takeaways

If you take three things away from this post, they should be:

  1. Occupational Health and Safety (sometimes known as Workplace Health and Safety) is about keeping workplaces and employees safe.
  2. As an employer you have legal OHS obligations to fulfil, which you can keep up to date with on the Safe Work Australia website.
  3. Creating a safe workplace also has many benefits for your own business, such as helping you hold on to your staff and lowering cost of injury and compensation.

 

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