Health and safety at work

Did you know that with the new WHS laws, safety rests with leaders?

May 18, 2022 | By Charissa Mitsikas-Beasley, Vitil People Solutions

In the wake of the McGowan Government’s new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, which came into effect March 31, 2022, Perth business owners and leaders are now responsible for ensuring their workplace is both physically and psychologically safe. But the definition of who is covered has expanded and the penalties for non-compliance have increased.

How does this effect business owners?

It is no longer good enough to have a Policy. It is not enough to just have a training session. Nor is it enough to tick a box to demonstrate compliance.

With the changes in WA WHS law, as a bare minimum, business owners must first seek to understand what it means if your WHS policy and procedures are not followed. What is your risk appetite? What is your mitigation strategy? What are your disciplinary measures?

Under the new WHS laws, the phrase a “person conducting a business undertaking” has been introduced to include all workers, both employees and subcontractors who are working on your site. Prior to this, Perth business owners would have only extended their WHS protection to direct employees.

It is now the duty of every manager who engages a WA worker, to protect all workers health and safety, both mentally and physically, whilst in the workplace.

Is your business equipped with an expert Human Resource practitioner to drive preventative methodology to mitigate risk?

It is critical to all business operations that the People & Culture Advisor / Human Resource Manager, assists in the education around how WHS translates from theory to practice; particularly when it comes to the management of all team members whether local or on remote sites.

There is no time to waste; no concessions to be made. In the wake of the WHS laws in WA, the only mindset to approach safety in keeping with the new laws, is a “zero tolerance” policy, with the necessary performance management and disciplinary process in place.

Are your managers equipped?

Do you find your leaders getting their hands dirty in the clean-up of “people issues” that are often the collateral damage in a reactive leadership model?

Implicit in a model of safety compliance is the expectation that leaders will lead. This means that any internal whisperings or formal complaints highlighting a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of a person protected by the WHS laws, must be acted upon swiftly and definitively. A wait and see approach is ill-advised; rather, prompt action must be taken to identify the risk, mitigate the damage and rectify any residual issues. 

What doe business owners need to do?

It is imperative that you ensure your policies, procedures and leadership model is fit for purpose when it comes to compliance with these new WHS laws. Put training plans in place. Ensure your managers act on any issue as soon as it arises. And consult a HR specialist.

The cost to your people, and your business, is immeasurable. It is our job to keep our team safe.

Vitil Outsourced Human Resources Consultants

Vitil People Solutions is a boutique HR consulting firm based across Perth and Australia, who offer flexible, reliable and affordable outsourced human resource support, people solutions and recruitment services, where your team is the key focus. Our experienced professionals can objectively assess your environment and help with change implementation.

Contact us to discuss tailoring HR solutions to your business needs.

Photo: Charles Clyde Ebbets 1932, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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