Providing safety training, information and instructions – small business
Small business must provide workers with adequate training, information and instructions to perform and comply with their job role and be aware of their safety responsibilities and requirements.
What is my obligation?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 place duties on employers to provide safety and health training for employees.
Training needs for small business
Generally training should be provided:
- to all new workers which includes:
- to all experienced workers given new tasks for which training has not been provided previously;
- to all workers who perform physical tasks in areas that are known to have high risk of injuries such as manual task training;
- to migrant workers who may require additional training;
- when new substances, processes, procedures or machinery are introduced to the workplace and represent a new hazard;
- when new hazards are identified; and
- subsequent to work-related injuries, illness and incidents.
Specialised training requirements
Certain work areas and roles need additional specialised training to meet safety and health requirements. These can include training in areas such as:
- first aid training for a worker who has been selected to apply first aid;
- high risk work training such as forklift training and dogging licence;
- construction induction training;
- hazardous substances information and training;
- working in confined spaces;
- demolition work;
- working with asbestos;
- fatigue management training for commercial vehicle drivers and their supervisors; and
- safety and health representative training.
Information and instructions
Small businesses have a duty of care to provide safe workplace environments for their workers and anyone who could be affected. Safety information and instructions where they are relevant will need to be given to workers, contractors or members of the public.
Information and instructions to be provided include:
- workplace facilities and housekeeping procedures;
- safe work procedures;
- emergency action and who is at risk and why; and
- the safety responsibilities of individual people.
- Do not assume that a worker knows how to do his or her job and will do it safely unless they have been trained to do so.
- Safety training is an ongoing process.
- Training needs should be based on accidents/incidents, identified hazards, hazard/accident prevention initiatives, and input from your workers.
- Provide adequate supervision to check people are working safely.
Court case – Inadequate training resulting in prosecution
In December 1998, WorkSafe WA successfully prosecuted a Fremantle-based business, which was fined $9,000 and ordered to pay the court costs of $258. The business was found to have breached section 19(1)(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 for failing to provide adequate employee training to ensure they were able to perform their work in such a manner that they were not exposed to hazards.
Two workers employed by the business were using an Elevating Work Platform (EWP) without fall arrest equipment, subjecting them to the risk of a fall from height. The workers had not received any training in the use of safety harnesses and even though one of the two workers had been employed by the business for more than 10 years.
The court determined that the workers were exposed to safety hazards, despite the fact that safety harnesses and slings were stored in their vehicle – a clear indication of the break down in supervision and training procedures of the business. The lack of appropriate training, supervision and safety procedures had exposed workers to a safety hazard. Employers need to provide and maintain a work environment in which its employees were not exposed to hazards.
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