A challenge for any person responsible for the occupational health and safety within their workplace is not only ensuring that they are up-to-date with the relevant OH&S obligations, but ensuring compliance of those regulations from staff within your workplace. An example is wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for that particular site. This not only includes staff members, employees or contractors but also suppliers and visitors to the site that could potentially be exposed to the risk. An effective safety awareness culture needs to be developed within the organisation via an effective OH&S program.

The depth and magnitude of any OH&S program to be implemented within your workplace will depend upon several factors including the size of your organisation, the resources available for developing and implementing such a program into your workplace and the level of risk that is present within your workplace (determined by conducting a risk management assessment).

Within smaller organisations, formalising the OH&S program might not be necessary and could effectively be done via informal discussions between the members of the team. Within larger organisations, a formal OH&S committee or representative might be required to develop and implement a program for the workplace. The legal requirements for organisations and individuals are set out quite clearly under OH&S legislation and will depend on your state or territory.

Four key areas that an organisation should focus on, in developing a safety culture by encouraging and promoting safety within their workplace are:

  • Leadership
    • Establishing clear directions to every member of your workforce;
    • Promoting a culture geared around safety awareness;
    • Reinforcing ownership of safety with all members of your workforce;
    • Identifying and rewarding successes;
    • Enforcement and proper supervision of safety protocols at all levels within the organisation.
    • Ensuring that up-to-date training manuals, safety protocols/guidelines and appropriate, well maintained personal protective equipment is made available for use by members of your workforce
  • Communication
    • Providing adequate, relevant and timely safety information to all levels within the organisation;
    • Focusing the message of safety down the chain of management;
    • Publishing common safety lessons learnt or safety breaches that have occurred;
    • Ensuring that the safety awareness message is displayed adequately throughout the workplace and is site specific;
    • Providing an avenue for members of your organisation to provide feedback or have input into the types of personal protective equipment used/provided and their pro’s and con’s.
  • Training
    • Instilling an effective culture of safety awareness by providing adequate training or access to different training options of the safety rights and responsibilities of both the organisation as a whole and for individuals within the organisation;
    • Providing adequate training on the use of personal protective equipment;
    • Highlighting the benefits of using PPE to prevent workplace and to demonstrate the detriments of not utilising PPE
  • Accountability
    • All levels of management within the organisation should be held accountable for safety compliance on both an organisational basis and an individual basis;
    • Promote and enforce existing standards and institute or expand incentive or reward programs;

Ensuring that these four key areas are present within your workplace will go a long way to ensuring the success of any OH&S program and enhancing the levels of safety within your workplace. However, as with any system or program, safety related or not, its success is dependant on the active and cooperative participation of all parties concerned.

This article is intended to be a general introduction to creation of a OH&S management plan ONLY.  An OH&S Industry professional should be consulted to develop the ideal plan to suit your work site's requirements.