Workplace safety should be of paramount concern to everybody. Aside from the serious risks of injury and fatalities, poor workplace safety can cost companies substantial time and money and leave employers open to expensive legal liability.
According to statistics from Safe Work Australia, in 2016 there were over 150 fatalities and 5.6 injuries per million hours worked, costing employers an average of $10,800 per incident in compensation alone. While there is obviously a lot of work still to do in increasing workplace safety, these numbers are at their lowest since their peak in 2007, a direct consequence of a greater employer and legislative focus on health and safety professionals and standards.
Why Health and Safety Professionals Are Important
As well as the costs of compensation and lost time due to incidents, employers have a legal obligation to ensure their work environment is safe and regularly assessed for risk factors. Non-compliance can risk significant fines, further compensatory awards, and reputational damage.
In addition to the requirements of ensuring a safe working environment, employers must also make sure they have appointed a qualified person to be responsible for health and safety checks, assessments, and enforcement within the workplace. Appointing a qualified health and safety professional not only fulfils your legal requirements, helping to mitigate future liability but also importantly reduces the strain of micro-management on employers and employees within the workforce when trying to prevent injury and fatality.
What Responsibilities Does a Health and Safety Professional Have?
The duties of a health and safety professional will vary dramatically depending on the industry and environment they are responsible for. In broad terms, their responsibility is to ensure the working environment is safe and as risk-free as possible for all employees.
In a basic low-risk workplace their day-to-day job may involve tasks such as creating and maintaining a safety plan and ensuring staff members follow it, checking core safety equipment such as fire alarms and extinguishers, recording incidents in a log book, and training staff in health and safety procedures.
When responsible for the safety in higher risk environments such as manufacturing, agricultural, or chemical refining, the duties and training requirements of the professionals will likely be more stringent. In these environments, health and safety duties may involve tasks such as checking and approving complex machinery for safe operation, verifying the secure storage and transport of hazardous materials, and assessing ambient sound levels.
Regardless of whether the professional is responsible for a high-risk or low-risk environment, their responsibilities will also likely involve working closely and liaising with management, unions, legal and human resource departments, and external inspectors.
How Can BNG Conserve Help?
A recent study on job outlook of health and safety professionals by Safety+Health Magazine has shown the industry is heading for a crisis. Over a quarter of the health and safety professionals interviewed stated their intention to retire within the next 5 years, with 21.8% over the age of 60 up from 17% the previous year indicating an ageing workforce with little new blood entering the industry. Moreover, 80% of respondents stated they had no intention to change jobs or companies within the next 5 years. Over time this will only serve to increase the difficulty in finding accredited health and safety professionals.
Despite this 75% of employers still have no replacement plan in place, and 62% claim they look to promote from within regardless of prior health and safety experience or qualification; a dangerous decision that risks both lives and legal compliance. This is where BNG Conserve comes in. Offering a professional, streamlined service for tracking and maintaining WHS compliance, we can help you remove the burden of ensuring your workforce is qualified in the latest health and safety standards, so you can focus on running your business while minimising the risk of workplace incidents.
Want to learn more about how Conserve can help you? Contact us today!