As a manager, you must think about what could go wrong at your workplace and what the consequences could be. Then you must do whatever you can (in other words, whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’) to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks arising from the business. This process is known as risk management and involves the following steps.

Here are four things to consider when responding to workplace bullying.

1. Identify hazards and risks

Work health and safety hazards and risks will vary depending on the tasks performed daily.

A hazard is a situation or object that has the potential to cause harm to people in the workplace. A risk is the possibility that harm might occur as a result of a workplace hazard.

Work health and safety incidents are events that cause injury or illness and which may result in physical or psychological injuries. Such incidents may be occasioned by exposure to physical, chemical, or biological agents or other harmful materials or because of the behaviours of other people in the workplace, which creates an unsafe work environment.

Near misses are events where injury or illness has been narrowly avoided, for example, a potential fall, slip or trip capable of resulting in permanent injury or death.

You need to be aware of both physical and mental illness and injuries.

2. Assess risks

You should undertake a risk assessment when:

  • there is uncertainty about how a hazard may result in injury or illness
  • the work activity involves a number of hazards, and there is a lack of understanding about how the hazards may interact with each other to produce new or greater risks
  • changes at the workplace occur that may impact the effectiveness of control measures.

A risk assessment is mandatory under the WHS Regulations for high-risk activities such as entry into confined spaces, diving work and live electrical work.

Risk assessments can help you determine the following:

  • how severe the risk is
  • whether existing control measures are effective
  • what action you should take to control the risk
  • how urgently the action needs to be taken.

A risk assessment can be undertaken with varying degrees of detail depending on the type of hazards and the information, data, and resources that you have available. It can be as simple as a discussion with your workers or involve specific risk analysis tools and techniques recommended by safety professionals.

3. Control risks

The most important step in managing risks involves eliminating them so far as is reasonably practicable, or if that is not possible, minimising the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

In deciding how to control risks, you must consult your workers and their representatives who will be directly affected by this decision. Their experience will help you choose appropriate control measures, and their involvement will increase the level of acceptance of any changes that may be needed to the way they do their job.

You must consider various control options and choose the control that most effectively eliminates the hazard or minimises the risk in the circumstances. This may involve a single control measure or a combination of different controls that together provide the highest level of protection that is reasonably practicable. Some problems can be fixed easily and should be done straight away, while others will need more effort and planning to resolve. Of those requiring more effort, you should prioritise areas for action, focusing first on those hazards with the highest level of risk.

4. Review control measures

Any control measures that are put in place should be reviewed regularly to make sure they work as planned.

There are certain situations where you must review your control measures under the WHS Regulations and, if necessary, revise them as follows:

  • when the control measure is not effective
  • before a change at the workplace that is likely to give rise to a new or different health and safety risk that the control measure may not effectively control
  • if a new hazard or risk is identified
  • if the results of the consultation indicate that a review is necessary
  • if a health and safety representative requests a review.

Like to learn more?

To find out more about the responsibilities of a supervisor and manager when it comes to creating a safe and healthy workplace, please refer to the Sentrient series of online compliance courses for supervisors and managers.

To get a free demonstration of the supervisors’ and managers’ suite of online compliance courses, please get in touch with us today!