OHS risk assessments still matter, but a systemised approach is the new order of...

OHS risk assessments still matter, but a systemised approach is the new order of the day - Work Health and Safety Act 2012

by Chris Beasley

The Risk Assessment.

When was the last time you performed a risk assessment on this piece of equipment/work procedure?

This question seemed to be the only thing that really mattered to most state WorkCover and WorkSafe regulators in Australia if there was ever a workplace incident that resulted in a follow up investigation.

Fortunately, under new national model work health and safety laws, which will be released in each state in 2012 and called the (respective) Work Health and Safety Acts, the state regulators are taking on a more holistic view on how workplace safety or OHS is managed within a working environment.

The new legislation, which will be complemented by Work Health and Safety Regulations and relevant industry Codes of Practice, calls for a more systemised approach to workplace health and safety.

This would suggest that simply performing a risk assessment to determine the level of risk each hazard and work activity in the workplace has is simply not enough.

What perhaps would satisfy the new approach is having a working, integrated OHS management system in place that has the support and engagement of all those in the workplace.

And these days, a paper based 'OHS management system' just won't cut it.

Why is that?

OHS documentation contained within these systems for the most part sit and gather dust and a lot of the time, workers and even management within some workplaces have little or no idea such documentation even exists.

Rather than having an OHS system, these workplaces have a set of policies and procedures and forms that are never viewed, much less used.

An integrated online OHS (workplace safety) management system - one that engages the workplace to perform ongoing tasks and functions, track hazards and incidents and one that highlights overall OHS performance over time is an excellent alternative.

A system that of course includes an OHS risk assessment tool and guidance documents, but one that also approaches ongoing compliance in a holistic, systemised way.

Online OHS systems, rather than cost money and take time to manage, in fact reduce both where a clearer picture of the current state of play and a plan to move forward make ongoing compliance a much easier undertaking.

Most online systems will also include free OHS policy and procedures template manuals that can be easily amended to suit the individual workplace, include forms for online staff inductions, contractor management tools and registers for hazardous substances, first aid and more.

A move to encourage a more systemised approach to workplace health and safety (OHS) is a welcome one and should make ongoing compliance a more straightforward approach for all businesses.

For more information on online OHS (workplace safety) management systems, go to: www.smartohs.com.au