WHS: Risk Management and Harm Prevention

A range of PPE (hard hat, mask, gloves)sits in front of a construction site

WHS: Risk Management and Harm Prevention

When an employee experiences a physical injury or mental health issue, the impact on business can be costly. No industry is impervious. Labourers, managers, drivers, technicians and community workers are among the top 5 vocations most likely to make serious WHS (work health and safety) claims.

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The cost of poor work health and safety

In 2021, Safe Work Australia found that: 

  • 120,355 serious claims were made for workplace injuries  
  • $13,500 was the median compensation paid per claim 
  • 6.6 weeks was the median time lost per claim 
  • 13% of serious claims were made by the construction industry  

Property risk assessment

You cannot know your biggest risks without first assessing your building. Consider starting your WHS management plan with a property risk audit supported by compliance experts. They will: 

  • Conduct a risk assessment 
  • Create a personalised mitigation plan 
  • Generate a complete risk profile rating across your assets 
  • Prioritise risk resolution by order of importance  

Building-specific risks will depend on layout, location, industry, purpose and other factors. There is no shortage of potential hazards – from confined spaces and traffic management to working at heights and slipping and falling.

Based on the results of your property risk audit, you can develop an asset-specific risk management plan. Compliance experts can provide actionable best practice recommendations to mitigate identified risks.

You may also want an asset register and condition audit so that an asset management plan can be implemented. Asset management plans study the longevity of your assets and give you a strategic approach to maximise safety and performance while minimising costs.

Preventing harm with risk mitigation  

Risk management is a good start, but if you’re serious about preventing harm in your workforce, you need active safety measures too.  

Undertaking audits and inspections fulfils your legislative requirements. But you can – and should – go beyond legislation to address the real risk factors inherent to your buildings’ systems and equipment. Only then can you determine which actions will truly prevent harm. 

For example, an identified risk at a school may be injuries from asphalt slips and trips. A potential control measure is replacing the asphalt with rubber playground flooring.  

A construction site may have significant working at heights risks. Potential control measures include installing harnesses and railing, employing ‘spotters’ or WHS managers on-site and ensuring professionals are always wearing PPE.  

Emergency planning: Train a WHS-conscious workforce 

Whilst you cannot predict which hazards and emergencies may arise, you can be ready when they do. A facility-specific emergency management plan will ensure you and your employees are prepared. Combine your plan with staff and warden training and you have a great recipe for successful harm prevention. 

Training ensures your employees know what to do in the event of a fire, flood, threatening person or otherwise risky scenario. This means that during an emergency, the potential for injuries and fatalities is significantly lower. Training also gives your employees a general awareness of hazards and risks, so they know what to look for and how to minimise danger for themselves and others. 

The value of a healthy workplace   

A healthy workplace is a happy workplace. Wherever you can, minimise and eliminate WHS risks. Doing so will save on time, money, stress and improve your organisation’s wellbeing. Make sure you regularly check in on safety by following the 4 steps of risk management:  

  1. Identify hazards  
  2. Assess risks  
  3. Mitigate risks  
  4. Review control measures   

If you take these suggestions on board, you’re well on your way to building a happy and healthy workplace.  A compliance expert can partner with you to reduce the burden and ensure that your workplace meets legislative requirements and remains safe.

Preventing harm in your workforce

Find out how you can better protect and serve your workplace and gain a better understanding of risk management and harm prevention.

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