Being new to business can be overwhelming. There are so many things to organise — tax, workers compensation, marketing, superannuation — that it’s easy to forget something.
Here are the most common problems that WorkSafe inspectors come across in small to medium businesses. Use this list to make sure you don’t forget safety in your business.
No documented safety system
If our inspectors visit your workplace, they’ll want to see evidence that you have considered the hazards associated with your workplace and how you intend to manage them. Certain documents like safe work method statements and confined space entry risk assessments must be retained for up to 2 years.
No process for reporting hazards/notifying incidents
You must notify WorkSafe of certain incidents, and your workers must have a way of notifying you if they spot a hazard. If an incident involves an injury then you must notify your workers compensation insurer.
No process for checking your workers hold the right licences
You must keep a list or register of:
- the high risk work licenses and construction induction white cards your workers hold
- any other competencies they hold or training they’ve done.
No current workers compensation policy
Significant penalties can apply! Make sure you have a policy, and it’s up to date.
Equipment in an unsafe condition
You must ensure any equipment used in your workplace is safe and well maintained.
Unsafe electrical equipment
Have your equipment tested and tagged by a competent person. Regularly inspect power cords for damage or wear. Report any electric shock to WorkSafe and to TasNetworks.
If you use ladders, they must be industrially rated at 120kg and only used for minor short term tasks where it is impractical to use another method like a scissor lift or scaffold.
Improper or damaged seating/desks/workbenches that can’t be adjusted to suit the worker can lead to musculoskeletal injuries.
Unsafe machine guarding/emergency stop controls
Machinery should always be used strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. You must not remove or modify any safety features such as guards. You must have an appropriate way of guarding, shutting down and locking out machinery to prevent workers being injured by moving parts.
Housekeeping and facilities
For guidance on all these topics, go to the Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice.
Unhygienic toilets (or none provided)
Workers must have access to specified facilities as far as reasonably practicable. Our inspectors are often called on when a workplace has failed to provide toilet facilities (or reasonable access to them). Even on temporary worksites like building sites it’s possible to hire portable toilets. And they must be kept clean!
No water for drinking or washing hands
It may seem obvious to shave water for drinking and hand-washing — but it’s frequently not supplied, especially in rural/outdoor workplaces.
Trip hazards and poor housekeeping
Besides the obvious risk to health and safety of an untidy workplace, small things like power cords across walkways or damaged/frayed carpet can lead to big injuries. Goods stored overhead or stacked too high create the risk of something falling on a worker or a body strain injury. These issues are usually easily fixed and can quickly improve safety.
No first aid equipment
All workers must have access to first aid equipment that is appropriate to the work being done, the hazards at the workplace and the size of the workforce.