• The truth about Workplace Health & Safety

    - by Gary Willcox, Monit

    For years businesses have angst over what they should or shouldn’t be doing about their Workplace Health & Safety.

    Hopefully this article will dispel some myths and reveal some truths about the subject.

    The Myths

    • A small family business doesn’t need WHS - If you pay WorkCover, then the law demands you have a health and safety policy in place. This policy is not something you hang on a wall but a collection of evidence showing you are keeping your workplace safe.
    • We don’t need WHS for our labour hire workers or contractors - If you provide a workplace for anyone to work in, regardless of the worker’s employed status then you are also responsible to provide a safe workplace.
    • WHS is only needed in the workshop - A workplace is defined by an area around a worker regardless of their location. If a worker is picking up or dropping off a customer then the vehicle becomes their workplace. If they are doing work at another location, then this also becomes their new workplace. 
    • We are not responsible for what workers do after hours – Social media has changed all this. If a worker is proven to be stalking, harassing or bullying another worker on social media, you will have a case to answer.
    • Admin workers rarely get injured –43% of the claims made by workers today are non-physical. Bullying, sexual harassment and stress lead the way.
    • Businesses are always guilty, regardless – In 2016 $24m was handed down in fines to businesses who also thought this, so they did little or nothing. In court, the default position is that a worker does not intentionally injure themselves so the business must answer a charge of negligence. If, however a business has kept sufficient WHS evidence then the spotlight of blame can quickly move to the worker where charges can also be laid against them. Signed evidence is king in court.

    The Truths

    • WHS makes your business more productive - Injuries and illness alone costs your bottom line between 10-30% annually. Absenteeism, poor or slow workmanship, high staff turnover and equipment misuse are typical of a company with a poor WHS culture.
    • Civil action – Once a statutory charge has been laid against your company, regardless of the fine amount, then the injured party (after consultation with friends and family) engage a ‘no win, no fee’ lawyer and go after you for compensation. An all too common end result of this is the business closes its doors and the owners lose a chunk, if not all of their private assets.  

    Monit’s simple, practical, system has proven effective in halting statutory and civil action against small businesses for many years, and although we look after more than 10,000 workers across Australia today we would always welcome your interest.   

    About the author: Gary Willcox completed a panel beating apprenticeship in country Victoria before spending a further 15 years in the industry. In 2001, he started a WHS company called Monit which he says at the time was a baptism by fire. What he has learnt in this time is critical in operating a risk-free business in today’s world.