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How safe is your workplace?

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It’s National Safe Work Month so take a look around – how safe is your place of work? And what can you do about it?

The answer to both questions is to conduct a hazard identification exercise. This involves inspecting the work areas as well as looking at tasks are performed and assessing the risks involved. The final step is proactively managing those risks, ideally by eliminating them.

National Safe Work Month is a perfect time to do this. Walk around the premises, bearing in mind that slips and trips result in thousands of injuries every year, according to Safe Work Australia.

Identifiable slip and trip hazards can include

  • changes in floor levels, such as thresholds, doorsteps or ramps
  • obstacles in traffic areas
  • low light levels.

Risk minimisation should start with the choice of floor surfaces, adequate lighting and the provision of separate storage areas, but this isn’t always possible in leased premises.

Risk reduction measures of existing premises could include

  • clearly marking the edges of steps or any changes in height levels
  • separate storage areas
  • securely stacking goods to minimise tripping hazards
  • increasing lighting.

thumbnail national safe work month2Administrative risk reduction measures include staff training in

  • keeping access ways clear and unobstructed
  • cleaning up spills immediately
  • using signage to warn of wet or slippery areas.

Tasks and how they are performed

Some kinds of work involve manual handling of goods or equipment. Under workplace health and safety law hazardous manual tasks have to be identified and managed.

Manual handling hazards include

  1. moving items at above shoulder height
  2. bending and twisting when moving cartons off or onto a stacking system
  3. repetitive movements and remaining in one position. (This is also a health risk in desk jobs).

Some risk mitigation measures could include

  • ensuring workplace layout and placement of equipment enable manual handling to be carried out in an upright stance
  • managing stock levels in a way that provides adequate space around displays and storage for comfortable access
  • storing heavier and frequently used items on shelves that are between knee and chest height
  • providing alternative ways to reach hard to access areas, such as having a lifting platform
  • managing workloads to combine repetitive tasks with non-repetitive ones or alternatively scheduling frequent breaks. (This also applies to desk jobs.)

Insurance and risk management

Having workers' compensation insurance is mandatory for all business operators and needs to cover all workers on whatever basis of employment applies: full time, casual, on commission and in some cases contractors.

Gallagher not only offers workers’ compensation but its Workplace Health & Safety offering encompasses everything from safety mentoring and training through to health and wellness programs, hazard and risk profiling, and incident management and investigation.

Find out more by talking to one of the experts on Gallagher’s Workplace Risk team.

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