BSBWHS201 – Participate in WHS Consultative Processes
Contribute to Workplace Meetings, Inspections and Other WHS Consultative Activities
Raise WHS Issues with Designated Persons according to Organisational Procedures
Take Actions to Eliminate Workplace Hazards and Reduce Risks
In this section, we are going to look at how you can make a difference to the health and safety within your organisation. There are a range of participative arrangements that we will be looking at in this section. Wherever possible, you should involve yourself in safety arrangements, because ultimately it is you who they are designed to protect. The more information that you can provide, the safer your working environment will be for you.
The Health and Safety legislation in Australia defines a hazard as being ‘anything that could cause harm’. When you know the kinds of hazards that exist in a workplace, it is easy for you to spot them and prevent incidents happening. If you see a dangerous situation, it is your responsibility to report it immediately to your supervisor or the WHS officer. Sometimes, you will be able to fix the hazard yourself.
The WHS officer needs to know about any workplace hazards so they can fix the problem. They will also remind other staff to follow safety rules to keep the workplace safe. Your workplace is likely to have its own methods for reporting hazards. These may be fairly informal (discussing potential hazards with the WHS officer) or formal (completing a form or submitting a written memo).
Sharing Views and Opinions with Others
Another technique for participating in the health and safety process involves sharing your views with others around you as well as listening to the views of others and taking them on board. This process may be formal or informal in nature, and can be undertaken in a wide variety of ways. We will examine a number of these in this section.
Formal and Informal Health and Safety Meetings
Another method that is very useful in health and safety is the use of the safety meeting. A safety meeting is very useful for making staff aware of the types of problems that may be occurring in a given workplace. It can also be used to motivate your staff into making sure that their performance with regards to health and safety is at the highest levels.
Safety meetings can be formal or informal (as a part of other meeting types).
• Formal health and safety meetings are any meeting that is planned in advance and that has a formal agenda of items such as training, hazard identification, and the like. Such meetings may only occur once a month or less frequently.
• Informal meetings are those meetings which come together very quickly or may just be discussions among those involved. They can be very useful for short talks on given subjects of immediate concern.
The role of a safety meeting is to enable those people involved in health and safety to be aware of all issues of concern. They are important in a number of ways
• They allow you to minimise the impact of a safety concern by stopping its effect quickly. You can spend time identifying hazards and coming up with solutions to those problems quickly and efficiently, and also allows you to reinforce changes you are making and things which those staff who are highly experienced may not remember to do.
• They allow you to ensure that all staff are well aware of their rights and responsibilities under health and safety legislation in the workplace. There are a range of ways of communicating messages such as this, however meetings are often the ones which are most remembered by staff.
• Meetings encourage active involvement in the processes associated with health and safety in the workplace. They ensure that feedback is provided on the work that you have done, recommendations can be made for improvements and more.
• Safety meetings provide an excellent opportunity for training to be provided on new rules, hazard identification, legislation, rights, responsibilities, improved work practices, and more. Because they bring people together on an interactive basis, you are able to quickly get feedback on the information you are providing and questions can be easily asked about points that perhaps your staff do not understand well.
• Safety meetings are a useful means of discussing the various reasons that incidents have been occurring in the workplace. You can also use them as a means of investigating the circumstances surrounding incidents and getting input from your staff on ways to resolve the causes of the major incidents in the workplace.
In order to ensure that the meetings are most effective, it is important that the safety officers are involved in these relevant discussions. You should also allow all participants to identify topics to be discussed. When you attend any such meeting, make your voice heard. It is your opportunity to provide feedback on the areas that most concern you. Your viewpoint may be quite different to that of the managers in the workplace, and you are most familiar with the work that you actually do.
Suggestions, Requests, Reports, and Concerns Are Put Forward to Management
The final method by which you can make a positive contribution to workplace safety is by formally informing your management or health and safety staff about any concerns you may have with regard to safety. If you have any concerns or suggestions, these should be provided to management in an appropriate manner so that they can consider your suggestions and make any recommendations based on your ideas. You may, for example:
• Write a safety report
• Provide incident or hazard reports
• Make suggestions with regard to safety procedures
• Make formal requests such as requests for a hazard to be controlled or new protective equipment to be provided.
However you address management with your concerns or suggestions, be sure to be professional and use appropriate means of communication. Your organisation is likely to have its own set of rules with regard to internal communication, be sure to follow them!
Improving Your Own Work Environment
A final thing that you can do to improve the safety of your workplace is to refine your own work environment.
This concept attempts to find links between the use of equipment and the design of your work environment to your performance and well being. In this section we will examine some of the things you can do to prevent eye and muscle strain for employees working in office environments.
• Ensure you are sitting on an ergonomically designed chair.
• Do not use armrests when you will be typing for long periods of time.
• Adjust your seat to ensure that your wrists can be kept straight.
• Adjust the back of your chair so that there is contact between the seat and the curved part of your back.
• Ensure that your chair, desk, and keyboard are in the best position for you (remember we are all different).
The diagram below will assist you in ensuring that your desk is laid out well. Remember that everything you use most should be placed as close to you as possible, to avoid stretching your body.
In the diagram above, note how the essential items fall into the closest reach sector. As items become less used, they fall into the longer reach sectors. This indicates a well planned workspace.
The best posture to be sitting at while at your desk is being seated comfortably, with no thigh pressure.There is no single height of a monitor which is suitable for all users. With the newer thinner LCD monitors, it is now possible to have a monitor that is about arm’s length away. However it is important to remember that sitting at your computer (even if comfortable) can take its toll on your body. Always take mini breaks away from the computer often and avoid sitting for too long and typing too quickly. Your computer should be placed directly in front of the keyboard if you spend most of the time looking at it, and ensure that your screen is positioned appropriately for your chair.
A good quality office chair offers you back support and assists in reducing fatigue.
Using a Keyboard
Typing can place strains on your body, so it is important to remember some of these guidelines while you type:
• Position your hands over the keyboard with your elbows at a 90 degree angle; do not raise your shoulders to achieve this, if necessary adjust your chair instead
• Use a light touch when typing
• Make sure your wrists are straight
• Move your keyboard to avoid your palms from resting on a desk edge
• Use a document holder to place documents in a position so that you will not be twisting your neck
• Keep the mouse close to the keyboard.
Older mouses have a tendency to not act as you would expect them to. This can result in much strain as you attempt to get the mouse pointing where you want it to. You should always ensure that your mouse is well maintained to prevent the mouse from ‘sticking’. Ensure that your mouse is kept clean to prevent this strain.
A good mouse reduces strain on your arms and shoulders, and improves your overall productivity in the workplace.
We have looked at the WHS in relation to an office situation. Obviously this training cannot cover all workplaces and job roles, however your Trainer may have more specific information about keeping yourself safe in your particular workplace.
Remember, you are responsible for the Workplace Health and Safety of you and others. Pay attention and contribute responsibly whenever the subject comes up.
• Whenever you have a concern or request about health and safety in your workplace, ensure that you make management aware of this by providing a report, memo, or suggestion in written form
• Safety meetings are an excellent means of learning new safety information and making your concerns known; if a safety meeting is to be run, and you are invited to attend, it is in your best interests to do so
• Other forms of safety participation include:
• Writing job safety procedures for your own behaviour
• Thinking about your safety and that of your co-workers
• Reporting hazards
• Reporting incidents.
• Ensuring your workspace is well thought out and designed is the best way to ensure that you are keeping yourself safe.