By: Marina Mirkina
Occupational health and safety is essentially everyone’s responsibility, in part because it takes both employees and employers working together to make sure that everyone in the workplace is safe and healthy. Depending on your particular industry, it is easy to determine which risks are more likely at your place of business and it is everyone’s responsibility to decrease the odds that workers will be put in danger when they’re at work every day.
Official health and safety procedures in the workplace must be learned by both employers and employees and they must be practiced regularly in order to be effective.What Is OHS?
Occupational health and safety, or OHS, involves protecting yourself and your coworkers from injuries and dangers that can be present in the workplace unless precautions are made to reduce the odds of something going wrong. Just what is included in these injuries and dangers? It isn’t always what you think because it doesn’t always mean injuries from falls or from using equipment improperly.
In fact, OHS is practiced even in office situations because the hazards of working in an office can include injuries due to repetitive motion, sitting at computers for too long, tripping on power cords on the floor, harassment and violence in the workplace, and even lifting and moving office equipment. In other words, you don’t have to have a physically demanding job to suffer workplace pain and injuries.
Employers are responsible for making sure that the job doesn’t involve activities that increase the odds of workplace injuries, which means making sure that employees take frequent breaks from the computer and know how to properly move and lift various types of office equipment, among others. This can be accomplished through classes, staff meetings, and many other resources that teach employees what they need to do in order to lessen their chances of workplace injuries.
What Can Go Wrong?
Things that can go wrong in the workplace include a variety of situations such as:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Workplace bullying and harassment
- Eye strain and pain
- Lower back pain
- Head and neck pain
- Broken bones
In other words, when your employees are experiencing these ailments, the chances are good that you aren’t providing them with the type of workplace that they need and deserve to be productive employees. When you aren’t taking these responsibilities seriously, the odds of your employees suffering these and other negative impairments are greatly increased.
Who Is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace?
According to the government, the employer is responsible for OHS in the workplace, not only for paid employees but also for unpaid workers such as interns and volunteers. The laws apply to both physical and emotional injuries; fortunately, the government does help employers with this all-important task because they provide numerous resources to assist you.
Steps to Take to Protect People
There are many steps that you can take to protect your employees, including:
- Helping your employees learn how to do their job more safely by providing them with information, supervision, training, and information instruction.
- Making sure that the workplace is always safe and free from risks to the best of your ability
- Reporting all incidents and accidents to the proper authorities
- Making sure that conducting business doesn’t put anyone in danger, including customers, clients, and the general public
It is always better to be proactive so that you reduce the chances of extreme injuries. Once you have the right rules and regulations in place, the injuries that do result should be less severe and not as likely to cause serious or permanent conditions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all of the responsibility is placed on the employer’s shoulders. Indeed, employees themselves have a responsibility to keep themselves safe and they can do this by:
- Taking reasonable care of the health and safety of both themselves and their co-workers
- Not interfering with or misusing any part of the workplace that may result in injuries
- Cooperating with their employers and making sure that they abide by all of the rules and regulations
Once again, it takes both parties to present everyone with a safe and healthy workplace. It is only when both parties take their responsibilities seriously that the workplace becomes as safe and healthy as possible for everyone.
Do I Have to Provide Health and Safety Training?
In case you’re wondering “who is responsible for health and safety in the workplace?”, the answer is very simple. According to the government, you do have to provide a variety of health and safety techniques because your employees will not know how to prevent serious ailments from happening without them in the first place. Depending on the nature of your business, you and your employees can find a wide variety of courses provided by the Registered Training Organizations like Alert Force.
The government’s workplace health and safety, or WHS laws, have been enacted throughout Australia in order to provide both employers and employees with the tools they need to make sure that their workplaces are as safe as possible at all times. Knowing and obeying these laws can literally mean the difference between life and death because each year people are fatally wounded in the workplace.
Fortunately, the government provides a wealth of information and resources to help both parties keep the workplace safer, which are easy to get to once you go online.
If you’re wondering about health & safety in the workplace and what it takes to keep people away from harm and unhealthy occurrences, the good news is that most of the laws and regulations center around basic common sense. The rules and regulations aren’t difficult to interpret or put into place but there are still at least a few of them that may catch you off guard.
Regardless of where you work, you deserve to have a safe work environment at all times. However, this can only happen when you understand that the responsibility to be safe at work falls on everyone. If your employees experience slips and falls, cuts and bruises, or broken bones or sprains while performing their essential work duties, this does not make for a happy or productive workforce. This is why the rules and regulations involving safe working conditions are imperative to learn and apply in your everyday life.