Employers must provide safe workplaces
Recent workplace deaths in WA serve as a timely reminder to prioritise safety and health in the workplace, regardless of your workers’ employment type or terms.
This includes preventing them from exposure to physical hazards (for example, working at height, slippery floors, heavy loads, faulty and unguarded machinery and equipment and chemicals) and psychosocial workplace hazards (for example, bullying, violence and fatigue).
It’s especially important to consider the tasks you give to new and young workers, given their skills, abilities and experience, says CCIWA Work Health and Safety Practitioner, Michelle Strother. This includes contractors working on your site.
“Some new workers may even be experienced, but if they are new to your particular environment, they may be a higher risk,” she says.
“So, with the amount of labour movement in WA at the moment, risk and vulnerability in the workforce is probably bigger than at first glance.”
What training and supervision do you need to provide?
As an employer, you must make sure workers have enough information, training and supervision to enable them to work safely. Training must:
- show workers how to do their job safely and how to recognise hazards on the job;
- provide and show workers how to safely use the necessary machinery and equipment; and
- provide and show workers how to safely wear and use any personal protective clothing and equipment (PPE), such as gloves, safety footwear and goggles.
You should also:
- show workers how to report any safety concerns or hazards;
- help them to get to know the workplace layout, their immediate supervisor, safety and health representative (if there is one) and co-workers; and
- make it easy for new and young workers to ask questions – don’t assume they will ask.
Talking about safety and health
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) is responsible for consulting and communicating, or sharing information with workers about workplace safety and health matters, including:
- asking for their input when looking at any workplace hazards and ways to control them;
- discussing new machinery and equipment when it is introduced into their work area;
- holding discussions at team or toolbox meetings where safety and health concerns can be raised;
- holding discussions with safety and health representatives (if any); and
- seeking expert input where required.
Who can new and young workers speak to?
- Speak to an immediate supervisor, employer and/or health and safety representative if your workplace has one.
- Health and safety representatives are there to represent workers on health and safety issues to the employer or management representative.
- If your workplace doesn’t have a health and safety representative, workers can ask their employer to set up a process so one can be elected.
- More experienced workmates should also be approachable for advice.
Questions new and young workers may ask
Questions supervisors or managers might get from new and young workers include:
- I’m not sure how this works, could you spare a few minutes to show me again?
- I think I’ve got the hang of this, but can you watch to make sure I’m doing everything right?
- I’m still a bit uncomfortable with this, would you mind explaining it/or showing it to me again?
Be sure to re-iterate and ask your new and young workers if they understand the procedures and instructions.
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