3 consequences when you neglect WHS standards

by Dave Collins on November 30, 2017



 3 consequences when you neglect WHS standards

Accidents can happen when you do not have effective procedures in place to comply with the Work Health & Safety Act 2011. It is essential to stay up to speed with the latest Australian laws by upskilling your team with a WHS course to reduce the risk of breaching the WHS guidelines.

Here are three consequences that can happen when you do not exercise diligence when it comes to complying with WHS laws:

Accidents and injuries in the workplace

An increase in accidents and injuries in the workplace occur when you do not comply to WHS standards. Injuries and accidents have a big impact on the business. For example, reduced productivity, lower staff morale, lost sales and even the closure of businesses.

Many activities within the workplace environment can involve risk that can easily be avoided. This includes things such as not testing electrical work to ensure it is electrically safe which allow employees to be at risk to electrocution, and employees at heights where the risk of falling is not controlled. Psychological injury and harm can also occur, such as bullying and sexual harassment.

An employer has to report certain events such as serious injury or death, and must take steps to provide the employee with rehabilitation or suitable duties while being paid compensation, under state and territory laws. With this being said, accidents are inevitable.

However, you will help decrease illness and injury when you invest the time in improving your hazard identification. This includes consultation and feedback from employees, workplace inspections, incident reporting and the register of injuries. The impact of injuries and accidents can also be minimised by equipping your workplace with basic first aid items and providing your employees with first aid training. It is also essential for your anti-bullying and sexual harassment procedures to be up to date and effective.

As an outcome, if you critically invest in the development in the health and safety of your team members, you will be able to prevent illness and injury. These adequate procedures in place will help your organisation understand and avoid the potential hazards in the work environment.

Penalties

There is a greater risk to lawsuits, penalties, fines, work stoppages and even the closure of your business when you fail to comply to the WHS Act. Research  shows that even WHS failures can be costly to a business in the form of rising insurance premiums and high workers’ compensation claims.

In NSW, a category 3 offence, which is the failure to comply with a health and safety duty, includes the maximum penalty of $500,000 for corporations and $50,000 for an individual worker. A category 1 offence, which is the most serious breach includes the maximum penalty of $3 million for corporations, and $300,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment for the individual. A report by Safe Work Australia  furthermore found that work-related injury and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion, representing 4.1% GDP in 2012-13.



It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that his or her staff members are informed about their rights and responsibilities in regards to work, health and safety. Staff members also have an obligation to report potential hazards and follow WHS procedures, but the onus is on employers to maintain a safe workplace.

Potential prosecutions will occur when a breach to the WHS Act has been reported and investigated by the relevant authority to determine whether a breach has happened and determine what action is deemed necessary.

Keep in mind that a breach happens when the law is not upheld, such as when an activity places a person at risk of injury, death or illness, or steps are not taken to avoid a risky situation, and there is a failure to comply with regular requirements. Remember that different definitions and penalties apply to each Australian state and territory.

You need to exercise due diligence when it comes to complying with WHS laws to avoid work stoppages, lawsuits and penalties.

Less employee retention

There have been several studies revealing that better compliance to the WHS Act is associated with improved employee behaviours and attitudes. Be proactive in retaining high-performing staff, increase morale and have more happier, productive and creative employees by creating a positive, safe and healthy environment for them. This will in turn positively impact your business.

Take into account, a business with a poor WHS record will not only have a lack of employee retention, they will have a lack of clients and consumers who are willing to remain loyal to them. This is because the public have high expectations of your company to be socially responsible in taking care of their staff and clients.

Businesses operating in high risk industries such as construction and mining use their safety record to demonstrate their commitment to the welfare and safety of their employees to attract high quality applicants. You will be improving your company’s positive public image as well by demonstrating your corporate and social responsibility.

Therefore, expect healthier staff members who are absent less often, and are more motivated to stay with your company.

Have an effective management system in place to avoid these three consequences, and upskill your team with a critical safety training course to improve the safety and welfare of your workplace.

 



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