Hidden Hazards in the Workplace: Are You Legally Prepared? | Bay Post-Moruya Examiner
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Hidden Hazards in the Workplace: Are You Legally Prepared? | Bay Post-Moruya Examiner

Hidden Hazards in the Workplace: Are You Legally Prepared? | Bay Post-Moruya Examiner
Hidden Dangers Lurking in the Workplace. Photo by Shutterstock.

As an employer, you undoubtedly want every one of your employees to return home safely at the end of each day. However, while this attitude is admirable, it can only be achieved through consistent and dedicated adherence to occupational health and safety (OSH) measures.

Not only do all employees deserve to work in a safe workplace, but your company’s long-term success depends on it. Since employers are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace, any injury or, worse yet, death, can result in serious legal and financial consequences for companies.

For this reason, it is crucial to identify any hidden hazards and take proactive steps to reduce workplace risks for both yourself and your employees.

What do we know, statistically speaking

How common are workplace accidents, what are the hidden dangers and what does this mean for the companies involved?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021–22 Work-related Injury Survey found that 497,300 (3.5%) of the 14.1 million people who worked in the last 12 months experienced a work-related injury or illness.

While this may seem small in percentage terms, the impact these events have on businesses, the economy and the Australian healthcare system is far-reaching and incredibly costly.

The most common workplace injuries

According to data collected by Safe Work Australia, overuse injuries (injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones) caused by falls, slips and trips, or being struck by moving objects, account for the majority of work-related injuries in Australia.

This means that even the simplest of things, such as leaky taps, items stored on the floor, ladder misuse and any number of other everyday occurrences, can cause a workplace incident. It is these hidden hazards that are so often overlooked that can quickly lead to a business becoming non-WHS compliant.

As a business owner, if you have failed to comply with the relevant WHS regulations and an incident occurs, you will be held legally liable. This can result in the total loss of your business and financial ruin, with fines running into the hundreds of thousands.

Even the simplest actions can cause a workplace incident. Photo by Shutterstock
Even the simplest actions can cause a workplace incident. Photo by Shutterstock

The Importance of Proactive Compliance

A common complaint from businesses about WHS is that it is too difficult, complicated or expensive to comply with. However, none of these complaints will protect your business from serious legal consequences if a worker is injured.

Indeed, even proving that you have complied with these rules in the past will not help; only a proven track record of proactively assessing and complying with health and safety requirements will be beneficial.

The good news is that businesses don’t have to undertake these assessments and navigate compliance without help. Specialist experts in the field, such as Your Safety Partners, offer WHS/OHS consultants who can guide employers through every aspect of this important process.

Why expert help is a wise investment

WHS and OHS regulations are subject to change and there are also a number of industry guidelines that need to be considered to ensure compliance. It is understandable that someone who is new to these regulations may feel overwhelmed or confused as to what is required or how to train staff to comply.

Instead, it is best to engage an expert to conduct a safety audit, advise on necessary changes, develop training modules for staff and manage other key WHS requirements. This removes any perceived burden of achieving compliance, while also identifying and mediating hidden risks in the workplace.

Protecting your rights and the rights of others

Investing in health and safety and using the help of professionals helps protect employees in the workplace and also helps prepare the company for legal defense in the event of unexpected events.

While workplace accidents and illnesses cannot always be avoided, your business can avoid legal consequences by consistently following the regulations and seeking expert guidance when necessary.