Managing Health Hazards at Work.

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1 Managing Health Hazards at Work

2 Managing Health Hazards Managing workplace health and safety (WHS) means taking care of the health as well as the safety and in particular health hazards at work. Health hazards are the things in the workplace and the jobs that people do that can case harm, such as noise, manual handling, chemicals and stress. Managing heath hazards helps to prevent ill health and injury, meet legal obligations and secure the health of workers (and the business). Health hazards are business risks that should be managed with the same diligence as risks such as financial management and reputation. This e-guide provides a brief overview of managing health hazards at work and gives some areas for action.

3 Managing Health Hazards at Work Protecting an organisation s greatest asset its people 1. What are Health Hazards? 2. What Does the Law Say? 3. Reasons for Managing Health Hazards 4. WHS and Workers Compensation 5. Managing the H in Health and Safety 6. Further Information

4 1. What are Health Hazards? Health hazards are the things in a workplace or work activity that have the potential to cause harm to health. Health hazards may be known, new and emerging and, to a greater or lesser degree, are found in all workplaces. There are five main categories of health hazards, with examples of hazards given in this table. HEALTH HAZARD Physical Chemical Biological Ergonomic Mental EXAMPLE OF HAZARDS Noise, lasers, vibration, radiation, heat, cold, shift work, fatigue Hazardous substances, lead, asbestos Tetanus, Hendra virus, Hepatitis, Q Fever, leptospirosis, HIV, zoonoses Computer use, manual handling, confined space, poor posture, repetitive movements Stress, harassment, bullying, isolation, work-life balance Some hazards are common to many workplaces (such as computer use and manual handling) or may be specific to certain industries and work activities (such as noise, radiation and biological hazards).

5 2. What Does the Law Say? WHS legislation aims to stop people being killed, injured or becoming ill as a result of work. For certain hazards (such as noise and hazardous chemicals) WHS regulations prescribe management with codes of practice guiding how hazards should be managed. PCBU s Primary Duty of Care: Ensure health and safety of workers so far as is reasonably practicable by: Maintaining a safe working environment Maintaining safe plant, structure and systems of work Safe use, handling, storage of plant/structures and substances Providing and maintaining welfare facilities and premises Providing workers with information, training and supervision Monitoring workplace and workers health For other hazards (such as stress, manual handling, UV rays), these fall under the broader legal requirements for risk management. The knowledge of hazard management and the precautionary principles associated with environmental management should be used, even in the absence of WHS legislation and codes of practice.

6 3. Reasoning for Managing Health Hazards There are a number of good reasons for managing health hazards at work: Meet legal obligations Protect health of workers Prevent pain, suffering and other results of ill health and injury Promote a healthy working environment Increase productivity at work Reduce costs of absence and workers compensation Reduce staff turnover and recruitment costs Health effects from hazards at work: Lung diseases (e.g. asthma, bronchitis, lung cancers) Skin diseases (dermatitis, skin cancers, burns) Diseases of body organs (e.g. cancer in parts of the body, nervous system diseases, disorders of reproductive organs) Damage to eyes and skin Musculo skeletal disorders (e.g. back pain, injury and pain to other parts of the body) Hearing loss, tinnitus Vibration white finger, damage and compression to nerves in hands Mental health issues (anxiety, depression, relationship breakdown)

7 4. WHS and Workers Compensation Investing in managing health hazards and preventing ill health and injury have gains beyond compliance with WHS legislation. Reduced numbers of workers compensation claims, the severity of claims and preventing reinjury will give a return on investment through less lost time, less time spent dealing with claims and reduced workers compensation costs. This applies to insured as well as self-insured organisations. Taking the time to know what the health hazards are at work, what is causing harm and putting in place strategies and actions to manage these will give a tangible return on investment for workers and the organisation.

8 5. Managing the H in Health and Safety Managing health hazards at work takes a good understanding of hazards, how health may be affected, who may be harmed, when and where. Actions can be taken at all times along the cycle and include: After Pre On Health hazards within the WHS hazard register Identify vulnerable workers On leaving During Policies and procedures to manage hazards and risks Pre and periodic monitoring of workers health Training, information and supervision Monitor work environment to check controls are working effectively

9 6. Further Information Kitney Occupational Health and Safety provide health, safety and wellness services. Our aim is to ensure that health, safety and wellness are well managed, workers protected, obligations met and businesses equipped with the right skills, knowledge and resources. Kitney OHS s services include consultancy, coaching, work shops, training and resources. Our resources include WHS management systems, manuals, tool kits and individual policies and procedures. For further information on Kitney Occupational Health and Safety please visit our website () or call us on 1300 KITNEY. The information in this e-guide is provided "as is" without any expressed or implied warranty. While all information is believed to be correct at the time of writing, the e-guide is provided for information purposes only and does not purport to provide specific, formal or technical advice. The provision of this e-guide does not amount to a contractual relationship between Kitney OHS Pty Ltd and the user in the absence of a formal engagement. All models, methodologies, checklists and guidelines are undergoing continuous improvement and modification. Please check the Kitney OHS website and make sure you have the most current edition of this e-guide. Kitney OHS s website address is

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