Training in work health and safety (WHS) is very important as should be, any training. But students are not often advised how to make the best of their WHS training.
Individuals undertake training because they have a need to improve their skills, to gain new ones or to polish the existing skills and qualifications. This may have resulted from a training needs analysis conducted by the employer; it could have resulted from a WHS audit that identified workers undertaking tasks for which they were not, or insufficiently, qualified. It may also be because an employer is diligent in the administration their training register and accept that using competent and suitably qualified personnel is a crucial element of achieving and maintaining compliance with WHS laws.
Regardless of the motivation, the individual attends classes to learn.
Most students will leave their training course with a sense of satisfaction in passing the exams, be they theoretical or practical. Passing a training course is an endorsement that you have the skills to do a job safely. But having the skills is not the same as applying them.
When returning to work it is important that supervisors know how things have improved. They need to be reassured that the student has the skills AND the knowledge to use them properly. This will vary, dependent on the type of training undertaken but it is useful to discuss these skills with your supervisor who is likely to have had the same skills for much longer. This experience is an important element in reinforcing or tempering the enthusiasm one may feel.
Students want to please their employers and their supervisors and show that the training investment was not wasted. But the enthusiasm can sometimes be applied in the wrong context. For instance, in relation to working at heights training that may involve an Elevated Work Platform (EWP), a newly qualified student will want to get into the EWP to show their new skills but also to familiarise themselves with the type of EWP used on site.
But skills should never be applied without being aware of the work environment in which the article of plant is to be used. There are important safety protocols that still need to be applied regardless of the skills the worker has. EWPs often require spotters who supervise the horizontal movement of the plant, but in light of some recent fatalities, just as importantly, look at the vertical movement of the EWP, watching out for canopies, electrical wires, ceilings and other obstacles at height.
Similarly, working at heights training would qualify someone to work at height but the company, and maybe the client, will still have significant safety protocols that need to be followed. Any supervisors of heights work would continue to be uncertain of the training the student has received until the employed has showed both that they have the appropriate skills and they know how to use those skills appropriately. Any supervisor that did not have this perspective would be likely to be breaching their WHS duty of care.
As well making sure that supervisors know that the training has been successful, there is an administrative process that should be undertaken. Employees need to make sure that the qualifications are entered on the company’s training register. This is a list of employees, the training qualifications held and the expiry date of that training certification. Not only because, hopefully, the employer has paid for the training, the employer needs to be able to show that they are using only competent people to do specific work tasks, such as working at height, or operating an EWP.
Individuals, particularly in construction it seems, often maintain their own “register” of tickets. Whether this is a small folder containing all the relevant training, induction and identification cards or a tobacco tin or a small Tupperware container, does not matter. The importance is that the certifications are readily available where one is working – not in the ute, or back in the lunch shed but in one’s tool box or shirt pocket. These certifications can be called for by many people who visit the site and who need to be assured that contractors are operating to the commitments they made that won them the contract.
Students are justifiably proud of the qualifications they have achieved but these qualifications also have a legislative compliance role for employers.
For more details on AlertForce’s nationally recognised WHS training, go to http://alertforce.com.au/
Does the new legislation have just a bit of new jargon for me to learn or are there real and significant changes? How might things have changed for my business under the new legislation and am I more or less liable than I was under the old. In fact, who is really responsible for my health and the health and safety and everyone else at work.
For a lot of people the shock is that most people are now ‘workers’. No more soft touches like ‘employee’, ‘staff’ under this legislation. Of course, in actuality people at work still fall under these definitions, these terms still exist in language and we may use them in our own organisations. At work we are workers unless we qualify as an ‘officer’ as defined the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001 (which by the way is 800 pages – long the biggest in the world – by comparison, Sweden’s is only 200 pages). So who is an ‘officer’, well, anyone who may influence the governance of an organisation. So, hands on the purse strings or making decisions about how and where the organisations resources may be spent, you are it! And you must demonstrate positive due diligence. Really, it makes sense. Why should the vital role of health and safety of everyone in a workplace be treated differently to, say, the management of financial risks. It assists in linking health and safety to productivity. It is not an add on but an integral part of good governance. Most particularly in the business is operating in a more hostile environment. For example, construction and mining.
The WHS Act (S27) clearly defines what officers are expected to do in order to exercise due diligence. So, if I tick the boxes and am an officer, under the new legislation, I must take reasonable steps to:
- acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of work health and safety matters;
- gain an understanding of the nature of the operations of the business or undertaking and of the hazards and risks associated with those operations;
- ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has available for use, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking;
- ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information regarding incidents, hazards and risks and responding in a timely way to that information;
- ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has, and implements, processes for complying with any duty or obligation of the person conducting the business or undertaking under this Act; and
- verify the provision and use of these resources and processes.
And here is the punch line. IGNORANCE IS NO DEFENCE. You cannot say ‘I didn’t know the gun was loaded’. Read the points 1-6 above again. You may allocate the work to another (a worker!) but not the responsibility. And you must VERIFY VERIFY….
This does not let workers off the hook. Under the legislation worker must take reasonable care of themselves and others in a workplace. Noticing hazards and risks and reporting them up the line is essential if officers are to have the knowledge and information they require to adequately allocate resources to the management of health and safety.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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POTTS POINT, NSW- Australia’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and environmental training company, AlertForce (AF) has partnered with leading content provider LexisNexis to provide LexisNexis Online Training- Work Health and Safety (WHS ) modules.
The partnership will combine AlertForce’s Occupational Health and Safety training expertise with LexisNexis renowned legal content, to provide participants with the ability to identify and apply crucial aspects of the Model Work Health and Safety Act.Together both organizations have specially designed three interactive online training modules to allow participants the ability to engage in the modules at their own convenience. Each training module was written in conjunction with employment specialist law firm Harmers Workplace Lawyers.
The following modules will be offered:
Course 1 – Health and safety duties
Course 2 – Health and safety representation in the workplace
Course 3 – Health and safety consultation in the workplace
Each course should take under an hour depending on the individual user and time spent exploring additional resources.
Completion of the LexisNexis Online WHS training modules will provide participants with the opportunity to earn CPD/CLE points ensuring that individuals are competent and compliant with the tools needed to sharpen your organisation’s competitive edge. Each course can be purchased individually allowing participants to engage in the modules according to their own schedule. In addition to offering this convenient option, organisations are also able to purchase a 12-month subscription in order to continuously train employees.
Brendan Torazzi, the founder of AlertForce says, “ Our partnership LexisNexis allows you to learn at your own pace in a convenient and cost effective way and earn CPD/CLE points without the travel times or costs associated with external training! ”
AlertForce (http://alertforce.com.au) specialises in delivering fast, competency-based, interactive short online and face to face OHS & E courses to mitigate risk and health and safety & environmental hazards in Australian workplaces.
For more information please contact Brendan Torazzi – CEO AlertForce. Ph: 1300 627 246
The manufacturer has been found in breach of health and safety laws, with a judge claiming it had “failed dismally”.
According to reports, the judge acknowledged that while the business is not in a financial position to pay the fines, the charges expose the manufacturer’s failings.The explosion occured in 2009 when baker David Cole, repeatedly attempted to light a 3-decade old oven, unaware that gas was building up inside the baking chamber. Eventually the door blew off the oven and hit Cole, who was trapped when a section of the roof collapsed. Cole died and another worker at the scene was seriously injured.
The case is similar to a local case involving the directors of the Pokolbin’s Drayton’s Family Wines. The winery was charged with failing to ensure the safety of their workers which resulted in a 2008 explosion which killed two people.
Workcover NSW launched a criminal investigation against the winery almost two years after a coroner revealed that poor safety measures was a key cause of the blast which killed two employees.
More info on Occupational Health and Safety