Effective WHS record keeping strategies for retailers

BY Australian Retailers Association
30 April 2019

All of the time and effort invested in workplace health and safety is an investment in people and business sustainability. It does not happen by accident and its value is not maximised without further investment of time into the evaluation of WHS policy and procedural effectiveness. Here we look to continuous improvement of WHS through an investigation into how retailers: Ensure appropriate WHS record keeping, assess WHS legislation compliance, evaluate WHS system effectiveness and develop improvements.

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Ensure appropriate WHS record keeping

Record keeping for workplace health and safety is primarily governed by relevant state legislation. Each retailer must create the opportunity to do the required research to understand their responsibilities around record keeping for WHS. Often retailers take the step of investing in a workplace health and safety management system to assist them in recording and retaining the documentation required by legislation and internal WHS protocols.

Effective record keeping can have considerable benefits to business. They can:

· Help identify hazards and control risks before there is an incident which could cause injury or illness

· Help track the effectiveness of hazard control measures that have been implemented

· Flag trends in near misses and incidents that require further investigation

· Record WHS training attendance and implementation

· Make managing health and safety easier Agencies

Administering WHS legislation will want to see workplaces manage and measure their own health and safety performance, and act on the results of that measurement. They need to know that records really reflect what is going on in the workplace. They may request a wide range of information to assess the proficiency of retailers in managing their own WHS affairs, including:

· Formal OHS policies and procedures and standard operating procedures

· Workplace codes of conduct

· Training and Induction records including those of WHS representatives

· Register of Injuries and copies of incident reports

· Copies of agendas and minutes of WHS Committee meetings

· Electrical Inspection/maintenance/repair records

· Hazard identification and risk assessments

· Safety inspection reports

· Hazardous substances material safety data sheets (MSDS)

· Register of hazardous substances

· Safe Work Method Statements

Record keeping doesn’t only benefit a business’ ability to comply with legislation. Analysing records internally can identify problem areas or processes, which will ultimately help to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses. It is particularly important that near misses are reported and followed up. In these cases, it is usually luck that an injury did not happen. If the same incident happens several times, it's only a matter of time before injury results. Investigation can help prevent injuries in the future.

Evaluate WHS system effectiveness and develop improvements

The final piece of the workplace health and safety puzzle is an internal evaluation of how well the existing policies and procedures support the WHS objectives in the business.

The level of commitment to and investment in WHS is largely dependent upon the attitude and perspective of senior management. How they value the role and importance of WHS in the workplace as compared to other core elements of business strongly impacts how WHS is resourced and seen throughout the business. To truly be successful WHS requires support and visible endorsement from the top of the tree. As the level of influence cascades through the organisation each manager and supervisor in turn must take their share of the responsibility for effective implementation and WHS success. As must all employees. To be effective WHS policies should:

· Show commitment to Workplace Health and Safety

· Encourage the co-operation of all employees

· Allocate accountability for Workplace Health and Safety at all levels

· Be easily understood by all employees

· Provide guidelines on how to deal with and report on WHS issues

· Ensure that the way work is done is safe and does not affect employee’s health

· Ensure that tools, equipment and machinery are safe and are kept safe

· Ensure that ways of storing, transporting or working with dangerous substances are safe and do not damage employees’ health

· Provide employees with the information, instruction and training they need to do their job safely and without damaging their health

· Consult with employees about health and safety in the workplace

· Monitor the workplace regularly and keep a record of what is found during the checks

Workplace health and safety is an ongoing process that requires ongoing review and adjustment to ensure relevance and currency with legislation, workplaces and processes. This process involves several administrative activities that include: Examining the effectiveness of the store’s WHS policies and procedures, measuring the effectiveness of WHS training initiatives and refining WHS procedures to achieve a safer workplace.

Standards are refined and updated on a continual basis and managers are required to keep abreast of these changes and modify their policies and procedures accordingly. Regular measurement and evaluation can enable retailers to see what is working well, develop strategies to remedy any problems and include these in the planning process for future WHS initiatives.

About ARA Retail Institute

ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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