Australian organisations are ready to implement the new Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation from 1 January 2012, and believe the new laws will impact positively on operational sustainability in 2012.
According to recent survey conducted at the 2011 Sydney Safety Show by workforce management software company, ComOps, 87% of managers believe that the new laws will be of benefit to their organisation.
It was also found that 68% of respondents believe that the harmonisation model will achieve a true harmonisation of WHS laws in Australia, and 60% of organisations believe that the personal liability provisions will lead positive change in their business.
The harmonisation of Australia’s WHS legislation is designed to further minimise areas of risk, and implement greater accountability and visibility into workplace safety practices within organisations.
A key focus of the legislation is to improve communication and implement more accountability and visibility of safe work practices, whilst more clearly defining who is liable for ‘duty of care’.
The three most critical factors of implementing the new practices into day-to-day operations were ‘creating the right culture in the company’, ‘having management support and participation’ and ‘deploying tools throughout the entire organisation to report on hazards and incidents’.
Australian organisations have also been proactive in preparing for the new harmonisation laws, and the survey found that 68% of respondents have already prepared their processes and systems in time for the new legislation. A further 18% believe it will take their organisation at least another six to 12 months to achieve the task.
In order to prepare for the harmonised laws, the survey found that organisations are:
developing clear WHS policies and procedures
auditing existing WHS systems
conducting comprehensive training of directors, officers and employees to reduce the risk of prosecution and injuries.
Daniel Sheahan, general manager, ComOps, said, “During the remaining months, businesses would be well advised to audit their risk management strategy as well as revisit their existing WHS plans, and confirm that they are still appropriate and will meet the requirements of the new legislation. Harmonisation provides an excellent opportunity for organisations to strengthen their management and employees’ awareness of risk.”
Additionally, the survey found that 74% of respondents were satisfied that their organisation’s workplace safety policies and programs were being driven and supported by their top executives.