When was the last time you reviewed your Safety Management System?
Are you up to date and compliant with current legislation?
With the relaxation of many Covid-19 restrictions in the workplace and the recent introduction of Western Australia’s WHS Act 2020 (along with general WHS regulations which came into effect in that state in March), now is the time to review and update, says Trinette Jaeschke, Ai Group’s National Manager - Work Health Safety Consulting Services.
“While you should naturally be reviewing your systems of work all the time, we recommend that a gap analysis is done annually because legislative changes can occur throughout the year,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“It is important to review and update whenever changes occur. Employers are required to have safe systems of work.”
A Safety Management System is a set of policies, procedures and guidelines to help a business manage its safety performance.
“These policies and procedures ensure employees know exactly what they need to do, when they need to do it and who is accountable for what, in relation to safety,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“It’s not just the processes that you need to review, you need to think about any changes that have happened during the pandemic or within your business, in general.
“Covid-19 is one form of risk management. There are plenty of other hazards in the workplace that employers need to be mindful of and to manage.”
Regularly reviewing systems helps ensure policies and procedures remain efficient and effective.
For example, restructures that occurred during the pandemic might impact the reporting structures of your Safety Management System.
Systems can be online or paper-based.
“Whatever the form, it needs to be alive and breathing so it’s working,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“Make sure it is simple to understand so your workers can relate to it. Often, Safety Management Systems are too complicated with too much fluff that doesn’t mean a lot.
“Unfortunately, many workplaces have a system in place, but they don’t review it. It’s very common for employers to let it go by the wayside.”
Ai Group offers a WHS Gap Analysis — one of our most popular resources — to help employers ensure their workplace meets legislative requirements.
“The Safety Management System Standard called ISO 45001 helps provide a framework to develop a documented management system,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“There’s also compliance. Once employers have undertaken their risk assessments, they need to make sure they have complied with the legislation and established safe systems of work to manage the risks within their business.”
Ai Group takes WHS Gap Analyses a step further than most auditors.
“Normally, an auditor will tell you what you haven’t done to comply with the audit criteria and legislation,” Ms Jaeschke said.
“However, we offer recommendations and point members to our Health and Safety Resource Centre, which has free guidance material, tools and resources so you can fix those gaps in your system with ease.
“For members wanting to move their safety management systems online, we have partnered with an online systems specialist to create automated actions to simplify the process.
"The online safety management system framework allows you to complete an induction or workplace inspection on your device and send it to your manager via email straightaway, rather than having to print out documents and follow a paper trail.”
Reviewing and updating your Safety Management System through consultation with your employees is an integral part of the process.
It helps you to become or remain compliant and up to date with changing legislation.
“In particular, this is timely for our WA members who should be looking at their Safety Management Systems right now to make sure any changes with state legislation are reflected into their systems,” Ms Jaeschke said.
Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.