Safety capability is achieved with safe and effective team performance involving communication, planning and coordination.
Confirm everyone understands upcoming hazardous tasks
It’s important to involve workers from the start to get input on upcoming hazardous tasks. Use a risk management approach with people who understand the work to identify risks and develop the procedure to complete the task safely. The How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB) can help with the process.
You should use this approach for new machinery, changing work practices, updated procedures, infrequent tasks, or when unexpected changes to the work environment such as weather variations happen. Keep a record of training provided to verify the competency of workers who will perform the task.
Where hazardous tasks require a high-risk licence, verify currency of the licence, and the competency of the worker prior to work commencing.
Build safety goals into standard processes and procedures so it’s central to organisational operations and your commitment to providing a safe working environment. Tailor goals and ensure they are measurable so you can share the results with your workforce as part of your commitment to consult with workers. Some ideas include:
- pre-start checklists are completed 100 per cent of the time, and reviewed weekly by supervisors for any action required such as repairs or maintenance
- quarterly reviews of safe work procedures including tasks carried out by workers
- improved worker capability by offering additional training and support for workers to obtain high-risk licenses that are relevant to their role
- improved supervisor capability by offering training to increase their confidence and skills when dealing with workers.
If work health and safety (WHS) isn’t seen as a priority for you, it’s unlikely it will be a priority for your workers. Hold your workers accountable for their safety performance. It should be clear they’re required to complete their work safely in accordance with policies and procedures. When they don’t, consider if action is needed to reinforce your vision to provide a safe workplace for everyone.
Workers involved in decision making are more likely to commit to WHS. Worker participation helps build co-operation and trust between management and workers by demonstrating contributions to WHS is valued.
Share a vision for a safe workplace by showing a genuine interest and enthusiasm for workers’ WHS and wellbeing. Provide a current position description to include WHS responsibilities so safety is front and centre of everything they do. Encourage consultation with workers about specific tasks and roles to highlight positive behaviours.
Workplaces must have arrangements in place to consult with workers. This is a key Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requirement. Consultation recognises that worker input and participation improves their WHS decision-making and helps reduce work-related injuries and disease.
New workers require training to help them become familiar with their work, the place of work and the people they will work with. WHS training should be easy to understand and include:
- potential risks associated with their work
- safety policies and procedures you have in place to manage those risks
- information about how to work safely
- how to deal with emergencies, including details of first aid officers, fire wardens and health and safety representatives (HSRs) or health and safety committees (HSCs).
Refresher training and supervision is important to make sure work continues to be safely done the way intended. Systems to support your workers include:
- workers are regularly observed to check they’re still following safe work procedures
- implementing a buddy or mentoring system for workers undertaking new tasks
- policies and procedures are reasonably available to where work is being done
- informal discussions or toolbox talks to discuss specific WHS issues
- encouraging worker feedback
- refresher training for longer term workers to ensure ongoing competency and understanding of safe work processes.
- Be proactive. Plan meetings and arrange training for upcoming hazardous tasks.
- Keep records of high-risk licences, qualifications, verification of competency checks, and any training provided to your workers.
- Give positive feedback, both individually and as a team, for good safety performance and meeting safety goals.
- Include WHS in your induction for new workers.
- Allocate a suitably trained person as a ‘buddy’ to provide support and answer questions for new or inexperienced workers.
- View the Speaking up for safety – a team culture page for tips on talking openly about safety-related mistakes.
View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability and understand your legal obligations.