Since the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in Queensland (effective 1 January 2012), I have literally facilitated dozens of workshops for leaders across industries about their obligations under the Act. I am pleased to advise that despite some doom and gloom forecasts about the changes this Act will bring (remember the Y2k bug), the transition for most companies have been relatively smooth, particularly for those companies that has had established health and safety systems and good work practices in place.
However, I have detected a common denominator at these workshops which is cause for some concern. What I am founding, is that many managers are not fully or well versed on how their company safety systems work.

“A preview of forthcoming attractions – later in today’s session I am going to ask you to describe to me your companies’ health and safety system”. This is one of my opening remarks to the participants of the workshop after the initial introductions are completed. True to my word, later in the day, I facilitate a structured group activity in which participants are instructed to graphically illustrate the components that make up their companies’ safety management system. It is during this activity where I consistently find a gap in what managers know. Suffice to say all the companies that I and the participants work for are large, highly reputable organisations with comprehensive safety management systems in place.

Under the new Act to demonstrate due diligence, officers will need to show that they have taken some reasonable steps such as to:

  • Understand the operations being carried out by the person conducting the business or undertaking in which they are employed, and the hazards and risks associated with the operations, and
  • Ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking has, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks arising from work undertaken.

As we all know, one of the significant changes to the legislation is the introduction of higher penalty rates and the potential for being jailed. When I attended a legislation update session myself some time ago, we were told that we will see and increase in jail sentences being handed down under this Act.

A driver for this is the unacceptable rates of incidents occurring in Australian workplaces, and the fact that the vast majority of these incidents could have been prevented if proper systems were in place, understood by the people, and properly implemented.

My point. Safety matters. If you are a manager and you and or your managers, are not fully versed on your safety management system, now is the time to do so. To protect you, your team and your organisation. Someone once told me that a safety management system is like having a parachute. ‘Hopefully you never have to use it, but if you do, you will be very grateful’.

Grabbed your attention? If so, and you need more information please contact myself or Alan Anderson, of Triple A Safety and Security, (07) 4914.0952