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Small business

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Work health and safety (WHS) is a key management responsibility for every small business. As a small business owner and operator you are responsible for:

  • making your business safe
  • ensuring WHS is part of your business planning.

Better WHS outcomes also improve your bottom line and help make your business more successful.

As a starting point, use this seven step guide and checklist (PDF 498kb) to consider WHS in your workplace, see how it currently rates and how it can be improved. Free printed copies can be ordered from our Customer Service Centre.

Step 3 in the guide is about the S.A.F.E. approach to managing hazards (PDF 83kb), a continuous problem-solving process aimed at defining problems, gathering information about them and solving them. This approach to identifying, assessing and controlling hazards - commonly referred to as the 'hierarchy of control' - is a good starting point for carrying out this process in your workplace.

A written WHS Policy that is simple and developed by the PCBU, in consultation with workers, goes a long way towards showing everyone's commitment to making a workplace as safe as it can be. This sample policy (RTF 115kb) can be used as a guide to develop a policy suited to your particular workplace.

Then, work through the Seven Steps for Small Business fact sheets below, which will help you identify what you need to do to make your workplace safe and outline how to go about it. The series provides a practical seven step approach to help you meet your legal obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).

Read the Introduction (PDF 146kb) first, then use the WHS Snapshot (PDF 201kb) to determine how you rate and understand what you need to do to improve safety in your workplace. Having completed your WHS Snapshot, work through all of the seven steps to identify where and how you can improve.

Step 1 - Setting up a safe workplace

A management commitment to workplace safety is important. Responsibility for safety in your business starts with you.

Everyone agrees that a safe workplace is important, but it won't happen if you don't do all you can to make your workplace as safe as it can be.

A written WHS Policy that is simple and developed by the PCBU, in consultation with workers, goes a long way towards showing everyone's commitment to making a workplace safe.

Use these policies and plans to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

  • Drug and alcohol policy
  • Health and safety policy
  • Safety improvement plan

Step 2 - Consulting

You need to consult with your workers as many decisions you make can have health and safety consequences for them.

As well as being a good idea, consultation about work health and safety is a requirement of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).

Use this template to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

  • Record of safety discussions

Step 3 - Managing hazards

Every business needs safe work procedures. These procedures ensure your workers are aware of their work task risks as well as outline how to avoid injury or illness while doing them.

Safe work procedures also provide a useful tool for training and supervising your workers, and responding to incident reports and changes in the workplace.

The best way to prevent injuries or illness in your workplace is to find these hazards and fix them. This three step approach to identifying, assessing and controlling hazards is a good starting point for carrying out this process in your workplace.

Use these templates and checklists to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

  • Hazard list and risk assessment
  • Health and safety checklist
  • Hierarchy of control
  • Risk assessment matrix
  • Risk control plan

Step 4 - Informing, training and supervising

Training and supervision are important. Workers need to know how to do their tasks safely and be aware of issues that may affect their health and safety.

Use these templates and checklists to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

  • Induction checklist
  • Training plan
  • Training record

Step 5 - Maintaining a safe workplace

Maintaining a safe workplace is important. You need to review hazards each time you introduce a new worker, machinery or chemicals as well as make any changes to your existing work practices.

Keeping workers informed of any changes and providing training opportunities to them when anything new is introduced helps ensure the ongoing safety of everyone.

Use these templates and checklists to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

  • Contractor management checklist
  • Health and safety checklist
  • Incident/hazard report
  • Injury management checklist

Step 6 - Keeping records

To help monitor the health and safety performance of your business and meet your legal obligations, you need to keep records of your work health and safety (WHS) activities.

Safety reporting procedures make it simpler for you and your workers to manage safety issues and prevent the recurrence of incidents and injuries.

Use these templates to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.

Step 7 - Monitoring, reviewing and improving

Everyone in the workplace is responsible for their own safety and that of others. While no-one plans to get hurt at work, you can plan to not get hurt.

Managing and improving you workplace health and safety is an ongoing task.

Continue to use all of the templates, checklists and policies to help you meet your work health and safety responsibilities.