BSBWHS311 Assist with maintaining workplace safety

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Chapter 5

Assist with maintaining workplace safety


Learning outcomes

In this chapter, you will learn how to:

  • Assist with incorporating WHS policies and procedures into work team processes
  • Contribute to consultative arrangements for managing WHS
  • Contribute to organisational procedures for providing WHS training
  • Participate in identifying hazards, and assessing and controlling risks for the work area

One of the most important aspects of any business is to ensure the health, safety and security of everyone who enters, or works on, its premises. Businesses have not just a duty of care but a legal obligation to ensure that no harm is done to anyone in the workplace. The state and federal governments have very strict regulations regarding workplace health and safety (WHS) and impose stiff penalties for any breaches.

It may be part of your role to make those you work with aware of their obligations under WHS regulations and to help implement WHS policies and procedures. In order to undertake such tasks confidently, you will need to be aware of the primary components of relevant state or territory WHS legislation, and of actions the employer must take to comply with its legal and organisational obligations to provide a safe workplace. For example, employers (or managers) are required to have in place acceptable consultation mechanisms such as WHS representatives and committees, which must fulfil specific roles and responsibilities.

The primary components of legislation will also include requirements for hazard identification, risk assessment, risk control and record keeping. Employers are obliged to provide adequate information and training so that staff members understand their roles and responsibilities, in WHS terms, and can do their work to the required standards. All staff must have an understanding of the ramifications of failure to observe WHS legislation and organisational policies and procedures.

We will look at all of these aspects as we move through this unit of study.

Assisting to incorporate WHS policies and procedures into work team processes

WHS policies and procedures are put in place to ensure the safety of everyone within the business premises—whether staff, customers, suppliers or contractors. Policies and procedures might relate to:

  • evacuating staff and customers in case of emergencies
  • ensuring the secure management of cash, documents, equipment, keys or people
  • ensuring the correct handling of chemicals and hazardous substances
  • following any hygiene procedures required by your organisation and/or its industry
  • identifying and reporting any workplace hazards
  • reporting on any incidents or accidents in the workplace
  • undertaking and reporting on risk assessment.

It follows, then, that everyone working in the business has roles and responsibilities that ensure the workplace is safe and secure, as set out in Table 5.1.

Table 5.1 Employer and employee responsibilities in the workplace

Employer responsibilities Employee responsibilities
  • Establishing detailed policies and procedures, in line with government legislation, for ensuring the health, safety and security of workers.
  • Ensuring the workplace is safe by minimising and/or controlling hazards.
  • Ensuring that chemical storage facilities are adequate.
  • Maintaining machinery and equipment at all times, and doing regular checks to ensure safety standards are met.
  • Providing information, instruction, training and supervision.
  • Providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Providing adequate welfare facilities such as washrooms, lockers and dining areas.
  • Maintaining information and records relating to the health and safety of employees.
  • Nominating a person with the appropriate level of seniority to act as the employer’s representative in WHSmatters.
  • Consulting with staff in developing, reviewing and improving WHS policies and procedures
  • Providing workers’ rehabilitation and compensation insurance to cover an injured worker’s loss of income, associated medical costs and, possibly, retraining.
  • Following safety instructions. Failure to do so could result in injury to the employee and/or others and denial of any claim for workers compensation.
  • Using equipment carefully andaccording to the manufacturer’sinstructions. Careless use of machinery and work equipment can result in serious injury.
  • Reporting any hazards and injuries. Good workplace health and safetydepends on all staff ensuring thateverything is operating correctly. If management or the relevant staff aren’t made aware of any hazards or potential hazards, they can’t fix them.
  • Not interfering with or misusingWHS items provided, such as safety signs or first aid equipment.
  • Attending all relevant trainingsessions. Employees who are fully informed about new procedures and equipment are less likely to make a serious mistake that could injure them or others.
  • Not deliberately putting the health and safety of others at risk through recklessness and/or misuse of equipment.
  • Working in accordance with anyrelevant government regulations.
  • Using PPE as required and/or instructed by supervisors.


Identifying the characteristics and composition of the work team

Incorporating WHS processes into daily work can be a complex matter requiring information on policies and procedures to be distributed to relevant personnel and, possibly, training to be provided. Depending on the size of the organisation, this can be a job too big for one person, so tasks might need to be allocated to individual members of the work team. But who exactly is the work team, and why is it important to understand their characteristics?

Regardless of whether the  team you are bringing together is for short, intense projects or for longer, ongoing work, you need to ensure it includes people you can trust and rely on, who will perform well together, who represent a diverse range of outlooks, and who have the experience and characteristics to get the work done efficiently and  effectively.

Creating a  well-rounded team begins with understanding who each team member is, what skills and experience they bring to the table, their commitment and approach to the work, and the way in which they communicate. Characteristics of a good team include:

  • A common goal. Effective teams have a common goal that is known to all team members, is motivating and has a clear path to achievement.
  • Open communication. The foundation of effective teamwork is good communication. Without clear communication, goals can’t be achieved. Good communication involves sharing knowledge and skills, and creating an environment where team members can freely express their thoughts and opinions.
  • Practical problem solving. Many problems may be encountered on the way to achieving a goal. An effective team will quickly identify and solve these problems in a practical manner.
  • Bonding. A happy team is an effective team. Team members must trust one another to perform and have each other’s back when support is needed.

An effective team, therefore, is one whose members have a mix of talent and experience and work together efficiently to achieve the team’s desired outcome.


  1. Identify who, within your workplace, is part of the WHS team. What are their specific roles? What WHS issues in your work area might they need to be made aware of?

Identifying the health and safety requirements of a work team

In order for the team to do their work in a safe way, they first need to understand what the health and safety requirements of their workplace actually are. Some requirements will be the same across all types of business, and some will be specific to an industry or organisation. Staff who work at a tourist attraction such as a theme park, for example, will need access both to general WHS information and to information relevant to specific organisations or sectors of the tourism industry. For example, the WHS requirements of a theme park will be very different from those of a firm of lawyers or an accountancy business. A theme park may involve adventure rides, wild animals and large crowds, all of which need to be properly controlled to reduce the risk of harm occurring should anything go wrong. This wouldn’t be the case in a business office or retail outlet, which have their own types of potential hazards.

Explaining organisational WHS policies, procedures, programs and legislative requirements

The team will need to be aware of the WHS requirements specific to the place, and even the department, where they are working. They will also need to be aware of their legal obligations under the relevant WHS legislation. It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that their staff have the necessary information to work within the organisation’s policies and procedures, as well as to comply with all legislative requirements.

General information can be contextualised to the specific organisation, in line with industry standards and practices. For example, while general policies on staff training might address emergency evacuation procedures, in a theme park (which might see 10,000 or more visitors every day) evacuation is a very different prospect than it would be in an accountancy office (with only a small number of staff). Evacuation of a theme park has a real danger of injury occurring due to the number of people who need to be moved quickly and who may be panicking. Therefore, crowd control must be at the foundation of such an organisation’s evacuation procedures and staff must receive appropriate training.

Contextualisation of WHS information, policies and procedures also extends to the organisation’s overall approach to WHS and any specific regulations and codes of practice. For example, in the hospitality industry, staff would need to be trained in hygiene regulations and procedures. Workers in a manufacturing plant would need training in the safe use of machinery, and staff in a high-rise office might need training in the use of fire extinguishers and to practise fire and evacuation drills on a regular basis. Each organisation will also have in-house WHS policies and procedures relating to hazard identification, risk assessment and reporting documents, and their own specific methods for involving staff in general WHS management practices.

Aside from specific regulations, general WHS policies and procedures that apply to most industries might include:

  • manual handling techniques, to ensure staff don’t injure themselves when moving heavy or awkward loads
  • hygiene regulations and procedures, especially relating to the preparation and/or delivery of food and beverage products
  • incident and accident procedures and reporting processes
  • location of first aid kit, and emergency procedures such as how to evacuate the premises, or how to deal with fire, robbery, theft, and so on
  • general employee roles and responsibilities in WHS management and consultation practices
  • written records of any WHS issues, such as documents relating to hazard identification and risk assessment, incidents, accidents or emergencies
  • ethical principles and codes of practice relating to bullying and harassment.

Ramifications of failing to comply with legal obligations

Many of an organisation’s policies and procedures will be based upon legislative requirements. Failure to comply with these could result not only in fines being levied against the organisation, but in the real risk of harm or injury occurring to a person or even, in extreme cases, in their death. All employees of an organisation are therefore legally obliged to comply with WHS Acts and regulations.

  • Acts give a general overview of how to make workplaces safe and healthy. They outline the organisation’s legal responsibilities and the duties of an employer or business owner.
  • Regulations set out the standards that need to be met for specific hazards and risks within given industries. They specify licences that are needed for specific activities (such as selling tobacco or alcohol), the records that need to be kept and the reports that need to be made.
  • Codes of practice are sets of written regulations that are developed and monitored by professional associations or other official governing bodies or regulators. They explain how people employed in a particular profession or industry should behave and what they have to do to comply with relevant standards.
  • Guidance material. This provides additional information on compliance issues and can contribute to the general pool of knowledge in relation to workplace hazards and their resolution.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth)

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act) sets out the laws about health and safety requirements affecting most workplaces, work activities and specified high-risk plants. Division 2, section 3, states:

“The main object of this Act is to provide for a balanced and nationally consistent framework to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by:

  1. protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination or minimisation of risks arising from work; and
  2. providing for fair and effective workplace representation, consultation, co‑operation and issue resolution in relation to work health and safety; and
  3. encouraging unions and employer organisations to take a constructive role in promoting improvements in work health and safety practices, and assisting persons conducting businesses or undertakings and workers to achieve a healthier and safer working environment; and
  4. promoting the provision of advice, information, education and training in relation to work health and safety; and
  5. securing compliance with this Act through effective and appropriate compliance and enforcement measures; and
  6. ensuring appropriate scrutiny and review of actions taken by persons exercising powers and performing functions under this Act; and
  7. providing a framework for continuous improvement and progressively higher standards of work health and safety; and
  8. maintaining and strengthening the national harmonisation of laws relating to work health and safety and to facilitate a consistent national approach to work health and safety in this jurisdiction.”

( Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (the CC BY 4.0 license),

 Whenever there is a new intake of staff, a change in WHS procedures or the introduction of new equipment or systems, employers must provide information and/or training as appropriate. Incoming staff are normally put through an induction process that introduces them to their role and the organisation’s policies and procedures. Relevant Acts and codes of practice are shown in Table 5.2.

Table 5.2 Examples of WHS Acts and codes of practice … continued in the textbook ….

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