The WorkSafe New Zealand organisation is a workplace health and safety regulator. Their vision is for everyone who goes to work, to come home healthy and safe. They lead the way for New Zealand to achieve healthy and safe workplaces by using an engagement, education and enforcement approach.
Understanding your workplace risks
Different businesses will have different health and safety risks, depending on the work you do. A healthy and safe workplace starts with identifying and understanding what your work-related health and safety risks are; particularly those that have the potential to cause people serious injury or illness.
It then involves doing what is reasonable, what is practical and what you are able to do to eliminate or, where they can’t be eliminated, minimise those risks.
Your focus should be on managing your business’s most significant risks before managing less serious risks. Your work activities should be reviewed on an ongoing basis to identify any new risks that need to be managed.
How can you manage work risks?
Using the below four-step risk management framework can help with managing your work health and safety risks:
Plan: Identify and assess the risks
Identifying what could seriously harm the health or endanger the safety of your team in the workplace
Identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could result in risks to people’s health or safety
To work out which risks to control, think about the consequences of being exposed to the hazards you have identified, and how likely this is to occur
Focus your attention initially on the risks that could cause permanent injury or illness or death to workers or others – even if this is not very likely
Engage with your workers when assessing your risks
Do: Eliminate or minimise the risks
Consider first whether the risk is eliminated; if the risk can’t be eliminated, then it must be minimised using control measures
To determine the control measures you should use. Think about the current control measures you have in place, and whether they are managing the risk. If not:
Find out if there are any legal requirements relevant to the risk, and if there are any standards that apply
Ask others who do similar work to you how they manage the risk
Seek specialist advice from a competent health and safety professional
Think about how easy and accessible the ways to control the risk are and whether they will be effective
Think about whether the controls you implement could create other risks
Engage with your workers when making decisions about the ways to eliminate or minimise the risks
Communicate the risks and the control measures to your workers in a way that is appropriate to their needs
Remember that good health and safety is not about good paperwork, it is about active control of risk
Check: Monitor the control measure
Your health and safety systems should be ‘living’ and become part of business as usual. You should check that the control measures you put in place are being used by your workers and are effective. Monitoring mechanisms might include:
Inspections, observations and walk-throughs
Meetings and worker feedback
Checklists and audits
Health surveillance records
Environmental monitoring activity
Act: Review for continuous improvement
You should review your work activities on an ongoing basis to identify any new risks that might need to be managed. Reviewing also means thinking about the way you identify, assess and control risks – do your processes work, or is there a better way to do these activities.