A large organisation with over a hundred employees, possibly spread over a number of locations, will require a documented system, trained safety representatives and possibly the appointment of a safety professional.
But if you are a two person business, just you and your spouse, what do you require? It is easy to visualise the results should a husband complete a hazard report on his wife’s activities. The results could be anywhere between “dead silence” and “dead husband.” Therefore we need to have a common sense approach.
So let us go back to square one. All of the available OHS systems are based on the Australian Standard AS1401
I have been asked to explain the Occupational Health and Safety requirements for small business and the best methods for meeting these requirements.
I’m sure most of you readers have acquired, or been given various WorkCover documentation on OHS. You may have purchased an OHS system on disc from one of many sources, all offering an easy shortcut to complying with OHS legislation. All of this information may be relevant to your business.
But it’s up to you to figure out what is needed by your specific organisation.
This standard requires you to have certain programs in place. These are –
Blind Freddy can see that a person working in a café, shoe shop, bank, etc have vastly different OHS concerns than a person on a mine site.
You must decide what level of documentation is required at your place of work. Then create an OHS system to suite.
No matter what size a system you create, remember that it is the “paper trail” that is important. You can have the most impressive set of OHS programs around, but without the paper trail, they will not save you.
Having evidence of minor injuries and treatment for paper cuts, splinters, dust in eyes, etc shows that you record your injuries.
Having evidence of workplace inspections, hazard reports, accident investigations, inductions for staff and visitors, evacuation, hazardous substances on site, and other situations is needed to prove that your system exists.
Should you decide to obtain the services of a consultant for assistance, remember that a person does not require any qualifications before calling themselves an OHS Consultant. I know a number of persons who have taken on this role, without the necessary experience or knowledge, but heaps of confidence. A good consultant can save you a lot, a bad one could cost you a lot. So find out about them through references and word of mouth.
As a personal piece of advice, remember, “There ain’t no shortcuts,” and “Keep it simple.”