Discussion 1

almost 2 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Which areas in the model WHS laws are working well for you?

  • Margaret Theakston almost 2 years ago
    In my agency (small Commonwealth authority) the main areas of the law we deal with are duties, consultation, HSRs, and several codes of practice (first aid, environment, noise, consultation, WHS risk, hazardous manual tasks).I haven't had any issues with interpreting and implementing the laws. They seem quite clear and reasonable. The issue is more about ensuring WHS practitioners actually use these as the basis for developing a health and safety management system that is contextualised to their own agency. Too often I've seen policies and procedures that just repeat what is in the legislation without translating it to the agencies own unique situation.
  • Alan Talbot about 2 years ago
    Requirement for workplace site specific risk assessment and risk registers as indicated in existing codes of practice ensure a safer work environment
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    • Stephen Cooper about 2 years ago
      Risk registers - are they really useful?Do employees in the field really understand what they are and how they work, and are they consistently implemented? Are they kept up to date with the emergent hazards that always arise after work starts?Not always, and possibly even not often.
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      • The Guru about 2 years ago
        I agree with your comment Stephen, not so much that people struggle to understand the/a risk register but more to do with the persons access to the register and also the real time management of the register. One could also argue regarding the subjective nature and personal interpretation of 'risk' assessment and/or what constitutes risk. We see this in high risk (risk defined by compensable claims costs) areas such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining where in some cases risk tolerant environments exist.
      • Deborah H-M about 2 years ago
        From my point of view I utilise the risk register as a tool to record my Task Observations of high risk tasks on site. This way I am able to track any areas of concern that have been raised at the time of the task observation, changes required to the SWMS or possible breaches that may require the task to be stopped and re-evaluate the task completely.We identify from our program what is to commence and then, following review of the SWMS, book in this Task Observation as soon as work commences.
      • nicole west almost 2 years ago
        I agree here with you Stephen. Often we are required to comply with a CoP or AS/NZ standard and record identified risks on a register. But happens afterwards? Do the risks keep getting added indefinitely? Who is reviewing this list and what, more importantly, is being done to control these risks on the register. I guess it is different from workplace to workplace. I think your key highlight for me is that PCBU's/employers don't use them effectively or understand how to use them well.
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        • HRBSAFETY almost 2 years ago
          I agree with Stephen. Tradespeople in the Service sector would benefit from a real time register.The PCBU's I consult with find it difficult to administer. Aligning an historical Risk observed 12 months ago to a Client site visit occurring today; is it a shared duty between the Servicing PCBU or the Site Manager of a Serviced Apartment Block for example?
    • Safer Habits almost 2 years ago
      Agree, they both have their place and are valuable tools though engagement and education are key to their correct application. Site or job specific risk assessments are great for supervisors and workers, banking key knowledge, flagging changes and implementing additional controls (not excluding mgmt authorisation prcesses). Risk registers I find are good high level documents used my management for planning and review, capturing key risks and their suite of controls and then disseminating relavant information.
  • Tom Bourne almost 2 years ago
    Consistency of the consultation arrangements across jurisdictions is working well.
  • Tracy about 2 years ago
    agree that harmonization has gone a long way to supporting cross states business with a common approach, but unfortunately those states that aren't on board leaves some business still in the pre harmonization era. Also I think that additional work needs to be undertaken on requirements and development of SWMS (particularly in small business) as there seems to be no consistent approach and little understanding of the requirement.
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    • Lee about 2 years ago
      Totally agree with you Tracy, further to your comment, there needs to be a consistent approach for when a SWMS is requested and maybe a focus on the difference between a SWMS and a JSEA, too often nowadays people (builders, building managers, clients etc.) are just asking everyone no matter what task they perform, for a SWMS, it is really taking the emphasis away from why the regulator has specifically picked out certain activities that are considered high risk construction work and only those tasks require a task specific SWMS (refer S291 & S299 of the Regs), its getting to the point where people are going to start asking contractors for a SWMS for eating their lunch, I mean do we have to consider being responsible for ensuring our workers don't choke on their lunches? its just getting ridiculous. I'm all for companies going over and above the legislative requirements, I'm a best practice crusader myself, but I think it needs to be pulled back a little to aim that SMWS focus back on these high risk activities where the focus should be...end of rant...sorry :-)
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      • Stephen Cooper about 2 years ago
        JSEAs / JHAs / JSAs whatever you want to call these documents don't exist in the legislation.They don't even exist in the construction work code of practice.SWMS (as clearly defined in the construction work COP) are required for the prescribed list of high-risk construction work scopes, a template is provided, and nothing more.Why do JSAs even exist?
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        • Darren Hunt almost 2 years ago
          Stephen,I do agree to some extent, there has to be a risk assessment conducted for the site and tasks carried out to get an understanding of what high risk work is on the site. I believe it does get carried away and some like to tick boxes for their compliance and encase of an audit. it should not be forgotten that the worker needs to be of understanding and trained in this area, that's what we do it for to protect the worker.
        • nicole west almost 2 years ago
          Conducting a job skills analysis allows both the worker and the employer to identify what work is being performed, where learning deficits exist and what the risks tot he worker are when performing this work. It is a valuable tool to sue during risk assessment and I use as part of my worksite visits when getting to know a new client and their business. It helps me to plan what training I can provide to support the worker to achieve their work safely, in comfort but with efficiency.
      • Nic Q about 2 years ago
        Totally agree with you Lee. Recently we were requested to produce a site specific SWMS to conduct a survey on door hardware requirements. Our guy only needed to walk through a office building with pen and paper looking at doors. It is crazy the level of compliance that in particular big business expects.
    • HRBSAFETY almost 2 years ago
      I agree with Tracey.Since 2011, the SWMS concept has shifted from the concept of the Site Work Team doing the walk-around:eyeballing the risks;having a discussion and agreeing on a safe & efficient process. To now, where I am asked to pre-write @ 90%-99% of a lengthy SWMS so that Workers, at best, sign off to this SWMS and hand over a signed copy at a Pre-Start Induction meeting to the Principal Contractor. The higher up the TIER Level structure, the more detail is required. Are the workers Safer or more scared?
  • vanders1000 almost 2 years ago
    Consistency across the borders regarding requirements and licencing (with some exceptions).
  • Grant HCA almost 2 years ago
    The consistent language of the harmonised legislation provides a sound minimum standard for both government and corporate Australia. What works is where the employer has controlled of the site and supervision. What does not work is: 1) The legislation does not fully recognise the reality of on-hire relationships and temporary workers on sites where another PCBU controls the safety of site and the supervision of temporary on-hire staff. The issue or what is reasonably practicable to manage risks on a third party site in a on-hire relationship at hospitals, mining, manufacturing warehouses where the risk exposure can change minute by minute. There appears to be a clear lack of understanding of the reality of this type of employment and how the management of site safety should operate and the level of influence by an on-hire provider.
  • Marie Boland about 2 years ago
    Thank you for your feedback so far on what you think is working well. I’ve recently been in Perth, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Adelaide talking to regulators, businesses, unions, industry organisations, researchers and community groups about their experience of work health and safety laws. Many businesses and unions have echoed the discussion in this forum around the model WHS laws providing consistency and a common language for businesses and workers to talk about safety, particularly those with offices across multiple states and territories. I’m keen to hear if this is also your experience, either within your own business or when talking to other businesses.
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    • The Guru about 2 years ago
      I think consistent language in WHS law is a good start. I would also like to see a simple process implemented where other tools promoting consistency, i.e, Australian and International standards (18001, 9001, 14001 etc) in QHSE are applied, and COP's developed and enforced. My last role involved working across Australia in multiple jurisdictions in Agriculture which proved difficult where (despite COAG) inconsistencies were known but ignored at the Safety Regulator level.
    • nicole west almost 2 years ago
      That's a great start Marie. Do you have any people from the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS)? I think a lot of people with disability are now tasked with being the PCBU as they need to employ workers to perform support in their own home (the workplace). There is a massive gap between what they understand and what occurs. As I work in both the acute care sector public health and the community it would be good to get some buy in and comments from this specific group.
  • GR about 2 years ago
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    • Nic Q about 2 years ago
      There is a lack of consultation between trades and principle contractors. Principle contractors frequently demand SWMS prior to attending site. Trades are required to do this prior to accessing site and learning the site specific hazards. Frequently SWMS are requested at the tender stage. There is very little consultation on what hazards the contractor will face on site.
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      • Stephen Cooper about 2 years ago
        To be fair though, a crane contractor or a concrete contractor or an earthworks contractor or any other specialist will face the same types of hazards in their line of work, regardless of the site. It is very rare that a specific site actually introduces new kinds of hazards (such as an adjacent fertiliser plant posing the risk of generating ammonia clouds in an emergency). The day to day construction hazards such as mobile plant, suspended loads, open excavations, unstable ground or hazardous substances are rarely new, and the controls required to ensure safety are rarely new.
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        • The Guru about 2 years ago
          My experience shows that 'known' risks are more likely to be the cause of incidents and injury rather than the unanticipated/unforeseeable hazards.
  • Alan Wilcock about 2 years ago
    The only area that comes to mind that is working well is encouraging unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in improvingwork health and safety practices, unfortunately in the health sector not enough employers take consultation with the unions seriously and will cut corners with WHS laws because of their organisations budgetary issues.
  • Safe-1 about 2 years ago
    National Harmonisation positively assists Safety Managers/Advisors and the like streamline processes and reduce duplication within safety management systems.
  • Rob about 2 years ago
    Consistency with most other States.
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    • Stephen Bowerman about 2 years ago
      Yes I agree, consistency and uniformity for all Australian states is the way to go.
  • Laurie about 2 years ago
  • vickifinch1968@hotmail.com about 2 years ago
    Infection control