Small businesses are no longer exempt from work health and safety compliance

Since “harmonisation” of workplace safety laws in 2012, to create national uniform regulation of work health and safety in Australia, a “person conducting a business or undertaking” (“PCBU”), no matter how large or small, has an obligation to provide:

  • safe premises
  • safe machinery and materials
  • safe systems of work
  • information, instruction, training and supervision
  • a suitable working environment and facilities.

This is done by ensuring:

  • the provision of first aid equipment for the workplace
  • each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment and facilities for the administration of first aid
  • that an adequate number of works are trained to administer first aid or workers have access to an adequate number of trained persons (Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011).

The provision of first aid will require the PCBU to take into account all relevant matters, including :

  • nature of  the work being undertaken
  • hazards in the workplace
  • size and location  of the workplace
  • number and composition of workers and others (including contractors, subcontractors, volunteers and visitors) at the workplace.

WHSOnce these factors have been considered you can then determine the appropriate first aid kit contents for your workplace, as well as the adequate number of trained first aid providers required.

The type of work being undertaken will be a factor in determining what are an adequate number of first aid kits and trained first aid providers.  For example, a business handling hazardous chemicals may require a higher number of first aid kits and providers than a legal office with the same number of workers.

These laws are designed to require employers to make a more proactive role to ensure safety in the workplace – not only for employees but anyone else carrying out any form of work for the business, such as contractors, sub-contractors and consultants.

Shire Legal can assist its clients with:

  • safety audits, to ensure compliance with relevant rules and regulations (using suitably qualified WHS experts where appropriate);
  • reviewing existing policies and procedures for compliance and if necessary, introducing work health and safety systems to ensure due diligence;
  • assisting with initial management of workplace injury;
  • assisting with employee issues, such as drugs and alcohol, stress and mental disorders and rehabilitation;
  • accident investigation and assisting with WorkCover investigations;
  • conducting training seminars specifically tailored for your particular business and audience.
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