Workplace Health and Safety Is the Responsibility of Employers and Workers

Health and safety in the workplace not only protects employees and minimizes risks, it also helps to retain valuable skills, increase productivity, and generally improve business outcomes.But this doesn’t mean that workplace health and safety is the sole responsibility of business owners and managers. In fact legally, the management of health, safety and the wellbeing of those in the workplace is a responsibility that must be shared between workers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs).Australia’s New Workplace Health and Safety LawAustralia’s new Work Health and Safety Act 2011 defines “health” as both psychological and physical, and states that by working together to manage health risks and maintain wellbeing within the work environment, PCBUs and workers can ensure that everyone working remains safe and healthy.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Essentially, the law says that it is the duty of PCBUs – “as far as is reasonably practicable” (which is a new concept) – to ensure their workers remain safe and healthy while they are at work. They are also required to maintain the work environment so that it doesn’t pose any type of risk to workers’ health.The new law (which replaced the old Workplace Health and Safety Act of 1995) also regulates the responsibility of workers, stating that they are expected to take “reasonable care” for their own personal safety and health, and are obliged to comply with “reasonable safety instructions” of their employers or managers.Integrating Good Health and Safety Systems in the WorkplaceThe integration of effective and meaningful systems has been a priority in Australia for some time. In line with worldwide research, it was found that where workers have a mutual responsibility to actively support health initiatives and health and safety programs, that they are more responsive and positive about healthy behaviour and changes in lifestyle.An important factor is that the integration of a safe, healthy approach should take place on a number of different levels and should include strategies that:
raise awareness about health issues and initiatives, and generally increase knowledge within the work force,
help workers to develop a range of skills that will encourage and support healthy behaviour at work,
promote activities that minimize and manage risk factors in the workplace,
actively establishes a work environment that promotes healthy choices and encourages healthy behaviour.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Of course it is vital to establish specific needs within each individual workplace, and to focus on building skills that will be needed within the organisation, so that both workers and management can help to create an environment where workplace health and safety is paramount.