Are you aware of the Codes of Practice relevant to your industry? In Queensland, Codes of Practice (or equivalent or higher standards) must be followed by employers, otherwise, enforcement action can be taken by a safety inspector. This is due to changes that came into force from 1 July. Previously, inspectors could only issue improvement notices, or other enforcement action, for breaches of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 or the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
Although this may sound daunting, Codes of Practice are a more practical resource which can help you to achieve the required health and safety standards for your industry, whilst also helping identify and manage hazards and risks.
It is possible that more than one Code of Practice could apply to your workplace. For example, many businesses would need to follow the following Codes of Practice (CoP):
Plus, also potentially following more industry-specific Codes of Practice.
This is a significant list of reading; however, these documents are written in straightforward language, with many requirements that business owners would implement as a matter of course. For example, in the Managing the Work Environment and Facilities CoP 2011, regarding Housekeeping, it states what we would expect to be the standard business practice of:
An untidy workplace can cause injuries in particular, injuries resulting from slips and trips, therefore good housekeeping practices are essential for all workplaces. For example
- spills on floors should be cleaned up immediately
- walkways should be kept clear of obstructions
- work materials should be neatly stored
- any waste should be regularly removed.
It will be much easier to keep the workplace clean and tidy if it is well laid out with sufficient space for storage and for the movement of people. Space close to workstations should be allocated to allow for the storage of tools and materials that are used frequently, for example providing racks for hand tools above workbenches.
Tidiness throughout the working day can be difficult to maintain in industries where there is rapid production of finished goods and/or waste. In these situations, training all workers in good housekeeping procedures and their co-operation with these procedures is necessary to keep the workplace tidy.
Suitable containers for waste should be conveniently located and regularly emptied. While it may be reasonable to expect workers to leave their immediate work area in a clean and tidy condition at the end of the working day, other options for carrying out the general cleaning of the workplace should be considered, for example engaging cleaners.
To reduce overwhelm when considering all the Codes of Practice that might apply to your business, we suggest reviewing all the Codes that would apply, then start with implementing the Code that would likely make the biggest impact to your business. From there, you can then work through each of the Codes, ticking off each aspect as you go.
If you’re concerned about your implementation process, or simply don’t have enough time to add this process to your list, get in touch with our Workplace Partners, who can work with you on your workplace health and safety needs.