What is health and safety and what does it mean to me? It doesn’t matter if you work on a construction site, factory, workshop or office safety applies to you and it’s important. When starting a new job you will be inducted about health and safety procedures and you will be told to follow safety guidelines at all times. But exactly what is health and safety?
What is Health & Safety?
When someone talks about occupational health and safety they are referring to policies, programs, and methods to safeguard any person’s safety, welfare and health engaged in work or employment. Occupational health and safety also protect the health of customers and the general public or anyone else who comes into contact with the working environment in question.
The goal of any health and safety plan should be to create a safe working environment and reduce the risk of injuries, accidents, and fatalities on the job. When a good health and safety plan is set up and everyone follows the procedures correctly they can help prevent accidents and reduce the risk of employee injury and illness.
How Does It Affect Me?
So now you know the answer to “what is health and safety?” you might be wondering how it affects me? It all depends on where you fit into your organization. Are you an employee or an employer? Is it your responsibility for implementing health and safety in your workplace? Are you a manager?
As The Employer
If you are the employer you shoulder the biggest responsibility in your business. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your workers at all times. This means every single employee no matter their job description.
As the employer you need to ensure the following is in place:
- You train your employees in safety matters and safe work procedures.
- You ensure work areas are safe to work in.
- Safety files are kept up to date.
- You have a system in place where safety policies and risk assessments are updated at regular intervals.
Heath and safety is an important part of the job and essential for a well functioning workplace.
Additionally, you are also required to comply with health and safety regulations as set out in the OHS Act and various different safety regulations. If you do work for a client or main contractor your are also obligated to comply with their safety requirements.
As The Employee
If you are employed by a company you should make sure that you are inducted on safety matters pertaining to your job. If you are working with specific hazards, such as toxic materials, heights or enclosed spaces, you will need to have additional specialized health and safety courses for these specific risks.
It is your responsibility to follow the correct health and safety procedures as outlaid by your employer. You contribute to your own safety as well as those who work around you. If you are tempted to cut corners you will be putting yourself and those around you at risk.
If your employer asks you to violate any safety procedure you have the right to refuse.
As a Manager/Supervisor
If you work in a managerial position with workers reporting to you it is your responsibility to ensure their work areas are safe. It is your responsibility to assess and implement safe work procedures and ensure that those reporting to you are adhering to these. If an employee refuses to adhere to safe work procedures it is your duty to remove them from service since they are putting others at risk.
You are responsible for setting up, managing and updating safe work systems. Legally it forms part of your job.
A Few Things to Consider As a Manager/Supervisor
- Are the employees who report to you qualified and trained to do their job?
- Are they trained in all safety aspects of their job?
- Have your workers been inducted?
- Do they wear the correct PPE for the job?
- Is your safety file up to date?
- Do you regularly revise and update safe work procedures and risk assessments?
- Do you have a clear emergency procedure?
- Are emergency contact numbers clearly visible for all to see?
- Do your workers know what to do in an emergency?
- Do you have access to a first aid kit?
Health and safety affect every one of us no matter what your job description. The whole idea of occupational health and safety is to ensure everyone works towards a common safety goal, keeping ourselves and those around us safe. It’s important to work together in health and safety matters. Safety is the responsibility of the employer and the employee. The key to safety is in your hands.