Who's At Risk?
There are hazards and risks all around us, and in literally everything we do – whether work-related or not. It is not “illegal” to have risks and hazards in the workplace. It is however unacceptable to know of a hazard and do nothing about it, or to not properly address the issue so that people are safe.
Employers, supervisors, managers and workers are all at risk of being injured while at work as a result of their own activities or the activities of co-workers. Additionally, general members of the public may also be injured or affected by the outcome of work activities too. Importantly, many incidents in the workplace can be traced to inaction in addressing Health and Safety risks within the business by company owners, boards and top levels of management.
If you have the ability to fix a problem that may affect yourself of someone else, then you should do so. If you do not have the ability, then you must make sure that you have reported the problem to someone who can do something about it.
But I didn't know …
As with most laws, ignorance is not a valid defence, and this is especially true in the area of workplace safety. The South Australian Health and Safety legislation (Act and Regulations) has been in place in its current form for more than 25 years and has been regularly revised and updated to address new and specific work-related Health and Safety issues and key risk areas. SafeWork SA, WorkCover Corporation and various industry groups and associations all regularly advertise these revisions and their importance. This means there is no excuse or ability for employers to say that they did not know about this legislation or that they had to comply with it. Prevention is not only better than a cure, it is much more cost effective!
The introduction of the WHS legislation on 1st January 2013 is an upgrade to legislation that has been existing in SA since the mid 1980’s, with many of the regulatory requirements having been present in the previous OHS&W legislation. It is not something new that has never been seen here before.
There are potentially large costs to organisations that fail to adequately protect the safety of their workers. These include fines and prosecutions, workers' compensation, lost productivity and/or sales, and loss of reputation through adverse publicity.
Now more than ever before, companies need to make sure that they have addressed the Health and Safety issues within their businesses. Link to Safework SA Prosecutions.