Developing a WHS Management System

A safe workplace is no accident. Maintaining a workplace that is free of injury requires the cooperation of everyone involved. By taking steps to ensure that procedures that ensure the health and safety of all present are followed, a safe workplace will not only be a goal, but a reality.

The Basics of the WHS Management System

The Work Health and Safety Management System or WHS system (also known as an OHS System) is put in place to ensure that best safety practices are followed on the worksite. This system allows for the creation of specific safety goals, policies and objectives and creates procedures to be followed in the case of a breach.

All management associates and staff are required to be briefed in the OHS management system and understand its key safety components.


The first step in implementing a WHS or OHS management system is to conduct training with your staff. Each department will have a separate training that addresses its unique needs.

Warehouse staff, for example, will receive training on the use of forklifts and other machinery related to their jobs. They will also learn how to remain safe while performing on loading docks, how to bend properly to avoid injury and proper safety when using ladders.

If your staff is required to earn licenses for each of their competencies, this training will address those needs as well. Creating a spreadsheet that lists each staff member along with their required training is helpful in keeping this data organized.

You will need to make regular updates to the training schedule to meet the needs of new hires, those that are changing departments and those that are taking on new job responsibilities. Your WHS management plan should outline how often training is to occur and who is in charge of delivering and managing this training program.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Drug and alcohol use can be especially problematic in the workplace. Employees who abuse substances while on the job are more susceptible to injury and can cause injury to others around them. If your employees are working in an environment in which they are responsible for the safety of others, it is especially crucial to develop a comprehensive drug and alcohol testing program.

How to Implement an Effective Testing Program

Your WHS management plan should include protocol for testing for drugs, alcohol and other controlled substances. There are no hard and fast rules about how and when to test, but the key is to test consistently. Test all of your new hires before allowing them to start work. If there has been an on the job injury, test the injured employee before they leave the worksite. This will protect you from liability should the employee sue the company.

Random drug testing is highly effective in both deterring drug use and catching offenders. If your staff never knows when they will be tested, they will abstain from substances during the hours they will be in the workplace. Since some substances remain in the body for a prolonged length of time, they may discontinue the use of substances altogether.

Seasonal/Holiday Workers

Holiday workers can present their own unique set of challenges that should be addressed in your WHS management plan and OHS Management System. First, due to their temporary nature, it is necessary to train them in a shorter timeframe than their permanent counterparts. Secondly, holiday workers tend to be younger people and students who are simply taking on additional projects for extra money, so they may be less experienced than their career-oriented peers.

  • Training your holiday staff means working closely with this unique population to ensure that there are proper safety principles in place.
  • Holiday workers tend to be inexperienced. Don’t assume that they know the basics.
  • Holiday workers may need more supervision or the opportunity to shadow a trained worker. Figure this into your budget.
  • Holiday workers tend to be younger and take more risks. They simply don’t believe that accidents can happen to them. Deliver incentives for following safety rules.
  • Give clear instructions, both verbal and written and encourage them to ask questions.

Planning for Emergencies

Emergencies are bound to happen from time to time, and being prepared for them will help you to react appropriately. Your safety management system should cover procedures in case of fire, flood, acts of terrorism, active shooter situations and natural disaster. Common examples of these safety elements include:

  • Identifying means of exit in a fire, and explaining these to your staff.
  • Recognizing the signs of a flood and designating locations where your employees can flee to safety.
  • Understanding who to contact in an emergency.
  • The Dos and Don’ts of reacting in an active shooter situation.
  • How to account for all of your employees in an emergency.

Designate one staff member as the contact person for emergency planning. This person will be tasked with training your staff onthe procedures and making sure these safety actions are carried out in the event of an emergency.

When it comes to developing an occupational health management system or a workplace health system in your company, having a firm plan with clear protocol in place is key. Spell out the terms of your plan and make sure that this vital safety information is shared with all of your management, vendors and staff.

Testing Methods

There are several methods you can use to test your employees for drugs and alcohol. Some companies choose to test their employees in-house using prepared kits. This method saves time and money and will allow you to get more accurate results. It also prevents employees from being able to alter their bodies in order to “beat” the test.

Others use outside contractors to test their employees and send all staff member to this vendor for testing. This has the added advantage of cost saving, as you will not be required to designate any of your staff for this purpose.

Whatever method you choose, be sure that the exact testing protocol is outlined in your WHS management plan and is available to your staff.

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Establishing An Effective Plan for Risk Management

One of the most important things that all business owners need to do is effectively manage risk in various situations. While the size of your business can help determine just what type of safety management plan you need to put into motion, there are always guidelines that need to be followed for both specific and generalized risks. While not every template will work similarly in different types of environments, establishing the foundations for a plan can allow you and your team to properly prepare for your next project. A carefully made plan will ensure that you can effectively minimize risks while optimizing your efficiency in handling every step of the operations and procedures.

There are numerous different ways that business owners can approach using a risk management plan template, though the conclusion of any well made template will always be the same. You will want to properly analyze any and all risks as they may arise within the details of the project itself. These risks can occur at just about any point during the timeline of the project itself. A good plan will not only analyze the risks, but also outline ways in which workers can mitigate the damages that would be caused by such risks. One of the most important aspects of any risk management plan should be its periodical updating and expansion as your company begins to undertake different types of projects. You will want your employees to constantly be aware of any hazards that come with certain projects, and a good plan will not only efficiently outline specific details in risk management, but also establish general strategies that can always be put in effect.

Establishing the Purpose and Background of the Management Plan

At the very first part of the plan, it is important to create a clear and defining introduction. Present a clear and concise statement that introduces the purpose of your risk management plan template and sets the framework for the rest of your plan. In this section, you will want to include the name, the code name of your project, the name of the risk system, and the organization that will be responsible for creating and updating the plan as it applies to the project. With the introduction complete, the next part of the outlining process is to create the background for the plan. In this section, you will be presenting the history of the group’s project and the specifications of the project’s environment. A variety of different things can go into this aspect of the planning, but be sure to identify a few things. One of the first is what systems will be interfaced with your primary one, as well as a brief description of supporting documents for all related contractors. Describe the architecture of the project, its operating system and languages, and a brief outline of the tools and methods that you plan on using in this project. Using a SWMS Template can also be a good aid and should form part of your risk management approach to safety on a construction site as well.

An Overview of the Scope

After you have presented the broader picture of your safety management plan, as well as an introductory look into the way that your group will be engaging in the work, it can be a good idea to proceed with a scope statement. This is easily one of the most crucial parts in the plan, one that will need to be handled carefully. This specific statement is understood to be an agreement among the professionals in the project’s team, the sponsors of the project itself, and the key stakeholders behind the project. This agreement is also crucial because of how powerfully it represents a more common understanding of the conditions and processes in the project itself. It should always be included in any safety management plan because of how crucial it is in establishing communications between all related professionals, while creating authorities and limitations for the team and management. Among the most important purposes for the creation of this statement include establishing business objectives, defining milestones, creating approaches, and defining the budget.

Defining Policies and Approaches

In this section of the risk management plan template, you will be including a safe work method statement template to be customised, as well as a policy portion that will determine how the plan itself is to be applied. This involves including a variety of standard reference documents that support the risk management process. In this section, it is always a good idea to include certain policy decisions that can determine how the plan will be conducted. Standard procedures and the documentation behind them will be combined in this part of the safety management plan in order to provide individuals with a more comprehensive approach at the hazard management process itself. Be sure to include any and all documents that have been used in the document’s development, and be sure to mention regulations, guidelines, and other official criteria that your plan should follow. Be as clear as possible and provide as many definite references as you can in order to not only clear up confusion, but make sure that your document is up to date and clear in its presentation.

The Approach Your Documentation Will Take

Finally, in this section of your template, it is crucial for you to describe, in as much detail as possible, the exact approach that your group will take in term of risk management within the project. You will want to include things such as identification, analysis, controlling, tracking, communicating, and planning around any and all hazards as they may appear throughout the parameters of the project. Be as clear as possible as you discuss your mitigation strategies and approaches, and be sure to detail any specific strategies that you believe will have a significant impact along your project. The key to writing this section is to make sure that all of your employees are up to date on the information that they will need to know in order to handle just about any hazard that they may come across. Being as clear as possible, while presenting the necessary documentation in the appropriate sections, will help ensure that your plan can help reduce the risks of injury in the workplace, while remaining relevant and up to date.…

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Creating a Safe Work Method Statement for your Workplace

Ensuring the safety of your staff on the work site is key to enjoying a productive space that is conducive to employee well-being. Preparing a safe work method statement is the first step in ensuring that the proper measures are in place. Using a Safe Work Method Statement Template as a base document can also be a great head start.

The SWMS will be tailored for each department, and will include the following elements:

-What work will be performed
-Who will perform the work
-What steps will be taken to ensure worker safety
-Best practices to avoid injury on the worksite
-What steps will be taken in the event of an accident

Creating a safe work method statement also involves including the following:

Risk Management Plans

It is crucial to understand what factors will increase the risks that will lead to a workplace incident.

Identify past incidents

Past incidents will give you insight into what factors to look out for in your present planning. Review data from environmental factors, human error and company policies that may have lead to health and safety problems in the past. Make the necessary changes to ensure a safe worksite for the future.

Anticipate future problems

Construction is an unpredictable business, and often incidents occur without warning. The best way to mitigate these factors is to anticipate problems and address them before they crop up. Construction site safety requires the in-depth knowledge of a wide range of issues, and dropping the ball on any one of these issues can mean and unsafe work environment for your staff. Review your policies often to ensure that they are adequate for your company’s needs.

Training and Accountability

It is imperative that your swms template include explicit instructions on how your staff is to be trained on the new safety procedures. This section of your template will outline who will create the training manuals, who will conduct the training exercises and who will be responsible for assessments of the training.

This section will also outline who has the ultimate responsibility in assessing and managing health and safety risks. This person should be involved in the training of the staff, as they will have the most in-depth knowledge of the subject.

Accountability involves creating a risk assessment and carrying it out. It also involves taking action when procedures are not followed properly. The task of accountability can be handled by one individual, or it can be broken up by job function or department. The key here is that everyone is sufficiently briefed and is on the same page in regards to accountability standards.

Determining Responsibility for Carrying Out Safety Plans

There is often debate about who ultimately has the responsibility for carrying out the employee workplace safety plans. There are several theories on this subject, each offering insight into what methods are best for ensuring the safety of all involved. They theorize that persons conducting business should be responsible for carrying out these plans if:

  • They employ a workforce, whether the workers are permanent or temporary/seasonal
  • They engage in workplace activities that can put others at risk
  • They manufacture parts to be used in the workplace such as pipe fittings or safety equipment
  • They create substructures that are used on the worksite. This may include a temporary structure used in the building or construction of a project

Making the decision on what are reasonable safety practices involve digging into the nature of the work. Reasonable practices take the following into account:

  • The likelihood that there are hazards on the job that could lead to injury
  • The degree of injury that may result from such risks
  • The availability of tools available to minimize or eliminate the risk

By taking these factors into consideration, it will be easier to create a template that will address the ways to maintain safety and order in the workplace.

Minimizing Risk in the Workplace

Once you have decided to create a risk management plan and add it to your safe work method statement, it is crucial to brainstorm ways to minimize or eliminate risk in the workplace. There are several factors that will contribute to the likelihood of hazard in the workplace. They include, but are not limited to:

  • The employment status of your workers. Seasonal or holiday workers often have less investment in their work and are less concerned with safety.
  • The age of your workers. Younger workers often take unnecessary risks and fail to see the consequences of these actions.
  • The external work conditions. If your work takes place inside, it will be easier to control factors that can contribute to an accident. Outdoor workers, however, face external factors like weather that can derail even the best safety plans.
  • Training frequency. Workers often need a refresher in workplace safety habits. If it has been several years since your last training course, an accident may be imminent. Develop a new training curriculum and schedule a mandatory safety briefing.

Creating Your Safe Work Method Template

The key to creating a reliable SWMS Template is to leave room for updates, changes and contributions from your staff. This template will change as the circumstances in your company change. For example, there may be no section in your template on drug testing until an employee on drugs causes an accident. If you are not hiring holiday workers at this time, allow for that change to be added to the template at a later date. The key to getting the most from your template is to be flexible.

When it comes to enjoying a safe and efficient workforce, having the right plan in place is key. Without a plan in place, you will not be able to prevent injury and respond in a disaster. By creating a safe work method statement, you will convey the message that you take safety in the workplace seriously.

Assessing risk and making your staff accountable is the most crucial step in avoiding workplace accidents. Work closely with your staff and brainstorm on procedures that will minimize and eliminate risk at your company.

Create your company’s safe work method statement today.

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