Occupational Health and Safety – Where It Can Take You

From January 1 2012, the Australian Government implemented brand new OH&S regulations with the aim to harmonise the legal requirements throughout the nation. Currently, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are operating under the new ‘Occupational Health and Safety’ system.

The former lack of standardisation proved to be problematic and the current consistency now allows employers to gain a thorough understanding of their legal obligations through safety training, better ensuring employees’ rights are paramount. Employers also better understand their rights and expectations.

In response to the new laws, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has created their national “Speak Up” campaign. The campaign is designed to empower employees to know their rights and have confidence to voice OH&S matters with the main focus being to reduce death, injury and illness at work.

The campaign provides all workers should:

  1. Have the option to deny an unsafe work task
  2. Know all safety hazards involved in their job role
  3. Be granted access to a qualified safety-officer to represent any occupational health and safety issue
  4. Overall have an acceptable working environment

To ensure these requirements are met, safety officers must comply with legislation, know how to identify hazards and assess and control occupational health and safety risks. As OH&S training is one of the most important facets of businesses today, these laws will affect a large variety of industries across the nation.

The new harmonisation of occupational health and safety laws brought in on 1 January 2012 bring significant changes workplaces need to be aware of.

  1. Though the model is labelled a ‘Framework’ each state will govern under separate legislation mimicking that framework
  2. Individual fines are up to $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment
  3. Company officers have due diligence requirements
  4. Company officers have a positive to prevent risk to safety
  5. Volunteers are now immune
  6. Fines increase to 3 million for corporate offences
  7. Obligations are placed on persons conducting business rather than the employers (small businesses and organisations are included)
  8. The Act makes clearer obligations towards the duties of contractors, referring to workers rather than employees
  9. All clients and visitors to workplaces have duties
  10. Consultation is required between all workers rather than employees

With qualified safety officers in high demand now is a better time than ever to find out about completing an OH&S certificate or diploma qualification,

For more on this see the safe at work website and OHS Management for more information.

Checking Your Supplier’s Health And Safety

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Construction (Design Management) Regulations 2007 places responsibilities on business owners to assess sub-contractors to ensure their Health and Safety is being addressed. Legally, you cannot pass on these duties to another party although some business owners believe if they pass on an activity, they pass on the risk. This is not the case and if a sub-contractor has an accident you still have some responsibility and the HSE will consider you as liable. The supplier will also be responsible so it is in both your interests to reduce the likelihood of an accident happening.

So how do you check the competence and compliance of your suppliers? Quite simply, ask them! It is more commonplace to have risk assessments requested by customers and you may have already been asked to provide yours. You can produce a questionnaire that they can complete and would ask for details or copies of their:

  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Their insurance levels
  • Their arrangements for Health and Safety – basically what they do to keep people safe
  • Sample risk assessments
  • Are they, or have they, been subject to HSE investigations?
  • Provide details of the person, or external company, used for Health and Safety and their qualifications
  • What staff training is provided?
  • How staff get info and any workforce involvement?
  • Health and Safety performance e.g. accident stats, how they monitor their legal compliance?
  • How they investigate accidents?
  • Do they agree to work within your own policy?

You may wish to leave the answer area blank and get them to fill it in or you may offer a checklist for them to tick and confirm they have the relevant information in place (less comprehensive but quicker to complete and review).

It is worthwhile to get them to confirm the information is correct and get it signed and dated. You would expect to see it signed by a director or suitably responsible person.

Once they have completed the questionnaire you now need to review it to check everything is in place. If the information looks complete you can file it and move on, but if it not you will need to contact them and establish why the information is not up to your standard. On occasions it may mean that work still goes ahead knowing there could be a potential issue but you accept that risk as your business still needs to function.

Another way is to monitor them whilst they are working for you. This may not always be practical but if you can see them in action it will give you an idea if they are working to their own designated practices. In addition it shows you are monitoring them and trying to ensure safe practices whilst working for you. Any issues raised from your monitoring should also be recorded so that you have evidence that you have taken reasonable measures to work safely.

If you complete even some basic checks on the Health and Safety of your suppliers, you will be demonstrating legal compliance and help to promote a positive culture within your organisation and your suppliers.

Health And Safety At The Workplace

Health and safety culture is often seen as an obstacle to making money. However, by doing nothing each business is taking a major risk in leaving its assets exposed to other third parties. By making a reasonable investment each year, you can protect your hard won assets.

Ask yourself this

Is the business covered?

Do I know everything I should?

Do I have Asbestos in my building (Asbestos dust the silent killer)

What affects the business and employees?

Is my business service user-friendly to persons with disabilities?

Would I be prepared to let the company be named and shamed through failings that could easily be avoided?

Central Safety Consultancy Services is a customer-focused organisation providing a range of services designed to assist clients fulfil their duties under current legislation.
We would anticipate that our fee proposals will not be matched by any other provider offering a similar service. However, we would suggest that our fee is not of prime importance when considering our appointment.

What is important is that your organisation receives quality advice on becoming compliant with health and safety legislation.
We take pride in the fact that for many of the projects for which we have been commissioned we have been able to use our knowledge and expertise to enable organisations achieve their strategic goals whether that would be legal compliance or best practice but more importantly help to achieve them..

Simply put – sensible advice at sensible cost.
Do yourself a favour. Resolve today that before this year ends you will get you health and safety checked. Ensure you are on the right side of the law.

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Health and Safety

Since it was first introduced at the end of the 1980’s the NEBOSH National Diploma has become established as the most popular and highly respected qualifications among Health and Safety professionals. NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) covers many different levels of attainment sectors such as construction, and specialist area subjects such as fire hazards. The diploma is the highest qualification a student can acquire at this level and is a natural progression from such awards as the NEBOSH National General Certificate. The course has been specifically designed to provide students with the expertise required to undertake a career as practitioners and also provides a sound basis for progression to postgraduate study.

Is the qualification professionally recognised?

Yes it is. The course not only provides fundamental knowledge at the core for the profession but the award allows the student to take further qualifications and further their career. For instance it wholly meets academic requirements to apply for either Graduate Membership of the Institution of Occupational health and Safety or the MIIRSM (International Institute of Risk and Safety Management). The former also places the student on the first rung to becoming a Chartered Practitioner as a Chartered Member of IOSH (CMIOSH). As well as being a sound progression to the MSc level like all students who acquire a diploma they have the opportunity to place symbols after their names to show it has been awarded. Recipients of the NEBOSH National Diploma would use the designatory letters: DipNEBOSH.

Entry requirements and framework There are no formal requirements for this qualification but it should be kept in mind that the award is accredited at level 6 of the National qualification framework and achievement to this level will be very beneficial and is highly recommended. All modules and learning within the course are transferable across all industries, commerce and the public sector and focuses especially on how understanding of policies and processes are applied. The 4 units within the qualification are:

  • Managing health and safety
  • Hazardous agents in the workplace
  • Workplace and work equipment safety
  • Application of health and safety theory and practice

It is important to note that individual units can be taken over a period of 5 years as they are all assessed separately.

Assessment The first three units are each assessed by one three-hour written examination and student scripts are marked by external examiners appointed by NEBOSH. The fourth unit, application of health and safety theory in the workplace is assessed by a written assignment of approximately 8,000 words. This will assess how the student will apply the knowledge and theory in practice.

Some Frequently Asked Questions About the CSCS Health and Safety Test

The CSCS Health and Safety Test is an essential qualification for all UK construction workers. Without it you are almost certainly ineligible for a CSCS Card – which in turn means you are unlikely to be accepted for the role you want on a UK construction site. We’ve put together this quick guide to frequently asked questions as a resource for individuals and companies who need help booking their Test.

What if I Have Taken a Construction NVQ Recently?

If you have taken a Construction NVQ within the last two years it is possible that you may be exempt from taking the CSCS Test. This is not always the case, though, and you should never assume that you are not required to take the Test. Most UK construction workers have to take the Health and Safety Test before they can apply for a CSCS Card, as noted above.

How Do I Know When My CSCS Health and Safety Test is Going to Be?

When you apply for a CSCS Test slot online, you will be given a choice for the location you would like to take the Test in. You will also be given a preferred date and time option.
You’ll be asked to provide an email address to go with your application. Your CSCS Test will be booked according to your preferred location and date – though it cannot of course be guaranteed that you will receive your first choice of Test slot.

Once your CSCS Health and Safety Test booking has been made, you will receive a confirmation email. The email is sent to the email address you have provided, and shows you the venue you will be taking your Test at, plus the date and time.

How Do I Revise for the CSCS Test?

There is the official CSCS revision book which is perfect for preparing for your CSCS Test. The revision material is also available as a CD ROM. UK construction workers who have registered to do the CSCS Operatives Health and Safety Test will find all the information they need within the first 80 pages of the book.

Be aware that your CSCS Health and Safety Test may be booked in as little as 48 hours after the date you fill out your online form. If you choose to have your Test booked as quickly as possible it is advisable to order the revision booklet before you make your Test booking.

What is Included in the CSCS Health and Safety Test?

When your CSCS Health and Safety Test begins, you will have 45 minutes in which to “train” (the test has a built in 15 minutes training session, which is designed to get you used to how it works) and then answer 40 questions. You will be given your results as soon as the CSCS Test has finished. Your certificate will be provided at the same time.

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