OHS/WHS Systems – why every business must have one

SafeWork Australia data shows that to date in 2022, 94 Australians have been killed at work.

An Occupational/Work Health and Safety system is more than just written policies and procedures, it is a framework for workplace culture and is critical in eliminating or minimising the risk to health and safety of your workers and other persons affected by or involved in your business.

It is true that implementing an OHS/WHS system takes time and there are some costs involved. However, implementing a system and supporting a safety focused culture in your workplace will become one of your c0mpany’s biggest and greatest assets.

The benefits include: –

·         Elimination (or minimisation) of hazards and associate risks

·         Reduction in accidents and incidents

·         Legislative compliance (avoiding large penalties)

·         Provision of a safe working environment for everyone

·         Increased business productivity and profits (decreased down time)

·         Positive reputation and brand image

·         Reduced workers compensation and insurance expenses

·         Increased employee engagement and morale

·         Increased attraction to potential employees

To build a culture of safety in the workplace, the following should be factored in:-

·         Leadership, management and executive teams must be committed to improving and maintaining safety and ‘live’ the safety culture

·         Leadership, management and executive teams believe safety is an asset and not just an added expense

·         SAFETY FIRST

·         Accurate incident and near miss registers must be maintained and monitored.

·         An investment in time and resources to create, implement, promote and continuously improve your safety system and processes

·         Safety items on every agenda at toolbox talk or team meetings

·         Safety risks are assessed (and where possible eliminated) and resolved as soon as practicable

·         Regular communication on Safety occurs

·         Employees must feel comfortable reporting safety concerns to management

·         Rewards and recognition occur when individuals or teams make a positive contribution to safety

·         It is clear to all that complying with safety processes is a non-negotiable in your workplace.

As a minimum every employer must have an OHS/WHS Policy in place.

The OHS/WHS Policy is for management to communicate their commitment and the commitment of the business to ensuring they are doing all that they can to minimise the risk to the health and safety of all.

An OHS or WHS Policy should detail how the business and management is taking responsibility for safety; how they are accountable; their involvement in compliance; and that management will have oversight to the ongoing compliance with the OHS/WHS System.

Employers have legal responsibilities in relation to the compliance and promotion of safety in the workplace.  By taking action on incidents, near misses and providing training, employers demonstrate their motivation to ensure that the entire workplace places safety at the top of the list of priorities.

For assistance with understanding your OHS/WHS obligations or for any HR matter, please contact us at [email protected] or 1300 720 004.


Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.


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