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Safety Management Systems – 5 Brilliant Tips to Get Yours Kick Started

Developing your own Work Health and Safety system can be a daunting project, particularly as you try to juggle the everyday tasks of running a business. It’s easy to get off track and find that you have wasted precious time, alienated your staff and achieved nothing more than to create a cobweb covered shelf filler.

In this guide, I hope to provide you with a few short tips that will help you create a safety management system that:

  • complies with the law,
  • enables you to risk manage effectively, and
  • your workers are willing to use

Tip 1. Understand what the law wants you to do.

Work Health and Safety (WHS) law may seem complex, but realistically it asks you to address two key points

1. Protect people from harm through the management of risk

2. Provide effective communication and consultation

So the key to compliance is effective risk management and giving people the opportunity to contribute to building solutions.

Let that underpin your approach to WHS Management and everything else starts to fall into place.

Tip 2. Focus on Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement recognises that you won’t get everything right from Day 1, but you will learn from your mistakes and get better results as time goes on.

The continuous improvement model demonstrates this.

1. Define your objective in your safety policy. It tells to where you are headed.

2. Plan how you will get there. Define what you want to achieve, who will do it and what resources you need.

3. Implement your WHS System – Do what you say you will do.

4. Evaluate your progress to make sure your efforts are on track.

5. Review regularly. Ask yourself. ‘Have we met our expectations? If not-why not?’

Then it goes around again; are your objectives still relevant, does your plan need adjustment?

Tip 3. Identify your risks.

Start off with a ‘broad brush’ risk assessment.

This assessment is meant to be broad and requires very little detail.

1. Identify the key tasks your business undertakes

2. Identify the hazards associated with each task

3. Rank hazards according to the risk they present.

4. Identify current controls

5. Determine risk remaining

6. Who is responsible for further action and when will they do it.

Doing this means you have essentially written a safety road map for your organisation. You’ve identified and prioritised the key hazards and drafted a solid foundation for your safety plan.

Tip 4. Use knowledge effectively

  • Involve your employees
  • Keep your safety committee positively engaged
  • Have the conversations at morning tea
  • Allocate responsibilities and accountabilities
  • Create ownership

Tip 5. Know your limitations

1. Work within your resources:

  • Financial,
  • Human, and
  • Capital

2. Include WHS in your budget.

3. Identify the skills, knowledge and time needed to put it all together.

Do you need to allocate an internal resource or engage an external safety consultant?

4. Consider:

  • IT and software
  • Office space
  • Equipment upgrades and maintenance

When it comes to planning for WHS, your limitations define your capability.

  • There are no shortcuts.
  • Be realistic about your objectives.
  • Take your team on a risk managed approach.
  • Focus on your capability and the results will occur naturally.


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