Module One, Part F - Managing risks and hazards (overview)
Managing Risks and Hazards (Overview)
This section contains information on the following topics:
- Definition of terms
- Duties for managing risks and hazards
- General approach to managing health and safety risks (Plan-Do-Check-Act)
- Plan - Identify Hazards and Assess Risks
- Do - Eliminate or Minimise Risks
- Eliminate Risks
- Minimise Risks by Substitution, Isolation or Engineering Controls
- Minimise Residual Risk by Administrative Controls
- Minimise Residual Risk by PPE
- Check - Monitor Control Measures
- Act - Review for Continuous Improvement
- Specific Duties Under Regulations
- Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016
- Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995
- Duty to provide information, supervision, training or instruction
- Duties in relation to general workplace facilities
- Duty to provide first aid
- Duty to prepare, maintain and implement an emergency plan
- Duties in relation to personal protective equipment
- Duties relating to exposure monitoring
- Duties relating to health monitoring
- Duties in relation to young persons at a workplace
- Duties in relation to heights
Hazard - A hazard is a situation or thing that has the potential to harm a person. It is not possible to categorise and/or identify all hazards in the abstract, so the term "Hazard" is not fully defined in the HSWA. What is expressly stated is that a "hazard" does include a person’s behaviour where that behaviour has the potential to cause death, injury, or illness to a person (whether or not that behaviour results from physical or mental fatigue, drugs, alcohol, traumatic shock, or another temporary condition that affects a person’s behaviour) Section 16 HSWA
Risk - Like hazards, "risk" is not defined in the HSWA. For health and safety at work purposes, "risk" is the possibility that harm (death or injury) might occur when exposed to a hazard.
The duties of the PCBU, officers, workers and other persons in regard to health and safety at work are described in HSWA. More detail on specific duties and information on how those duties may be discharged are contained in:
- Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 (GRWM Regulations)
- Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995 (HASIE Regulations)
It is important to note that these regulations:
- are LEGALLY binding
- expand upon the health and safety duties described in HSWA
- set standards for the management of certain risks and hazards
NB: Where your workplace health and safety risks include matters specified in the regulations (see below), you MUST meet the regulated minimum standard.
The Plan-Do-Check-Act risk management framework describes four steps that can help you with managing all your workplace health and safety risks. The process is used to identify, assess and manage risks.
This diagram depicts the four-step model pictorially. Figure 1 - The Plan-Do-Check-Act Model
Each of the four steps is described in more detail below.
- Step 1 - Plan (Identify Hazards and Assess Risks): Identify the work hazards and risks that could harm workers or other persons.
- To identify the risks to be managed, think about:
- who is exposed to the hazard
- how likely could harm arising from the hazard occur
- what could happen if harm does occur
- To identify the risks to be managed, think about:
- Step 2 - Do (Manage): Then work out what you can do to:
- reduce how serious the harm is if it does occur
- prevent or reduce the chances of the harm occurring
- You must then decide how you will deal with a risk - eliminate (e.g. remove the hazard) or if you can't eliminate, minimise (e.g. put in place control measures
- Step 3 - Check (Monitor): Regularly check your control measures are still working to manage the risk. This may include workplace exposure monitoring and worker health monitoring to measure the effectiveness of your controls.
- Step 4 - Act (Review): Review for continuous improvement. Workplaces change. Review workplaces on an on-going basis to identify new risks including when new equipment or processes are to be used.
Plan - Identify Hazards and Assess Risks
- Identify hazards (defined in section 16 HSWA)
- Think about your work activities, identifying what could harm the health or endanger the safety of your workers and others (eg visitors, bystanders, or someone else’s workers).
- Think about both harm that could be acute (occur immediately) or chronic (occur slowly over a long period of time).
- Think about your workers and whether any of them might be vulnerable (eg young people, pregnant women, casual workers, night shift workers, workers with reduced literacy levels).
- Consider whether your workers’ general health could reduce their ability to work safely (eg reduced mobility, existing illnesses or injury).
- Identify hazards that could result in reasonably foreseeable risks to people’s health or safety.
- Look at your work processes and the machinery/equipment used, your workplace itself and your workers’ activities and behaviours.
- Engage with your workers when identifying hazards as they often know what could lead to harm.
- Assess Risks
- To work out which risks to manage, think about which risks could cause injury, illness or death to workers or others (risk severity) or are most likely to occur (risk frequency)
- Decide which risks to deal with first. The greater the risk severity and frequency, the higher the priority for attention.
- Engage with your workers when assessing your risks
Do: Eliminate or Minimise Risks
Once you've assessed the workplace risks associated with your business, you need to decide how you will manage them (section 30 HSWA).
- Consider first whether the risk be eliminated (eg can you remove the source of the harm?).
- If the risk cannot be eliminated, then, and only then, should the Council, or a PCBU seek to minimise risk with control measures.
- There are five sets of control measures which are in a hierarchy of three tiers (Regulation 6(3) GRWM Regulations):
- Tier One measures are to be used in preference to Tiers' Two and Three. These are:
- Substitution (wholly or partly), and/or
- Isolation/ Preventing contact or exposure to risk, and/or
- Engineering controls
- Tier Two measures are administrative controls (Regulation 6(4) GRWM Regulations). They are for controlling risks remaining after higher order controls (elimination, Tier One) have been applied.
- Tier Three measures are personal protective equipment (Regulation 6(5) GRWM Regulations). They are targetted for controlling risks remaining after higher order controls (elimination, Tier One, Tier Two) have been applied.
- Tier One measures are to be used in preference to Tiers' Two and Three. These are:
- Check if your current control measures are managing the risk. If not see what else you could do.
- The most expensive control measure is not necessarily the best one. If the risk is well known, and if there are industry standard control measures to minimise risk, see if you can use these.
- Engage with your workers when making decisions about the ways to eliminate or minimise the risks.
Check: Monitor Control Measures
- Your health and safety systems should be ‘living’ and become part of business as usual.
- You should check that the control measures you put in place are being used by your workers and are effective.
- Engage with your workers when monitoring control measures.
Act: Review for continuous improvement
- You should review your work activities on an on-going basis to identify any new risks that might need to be managed.
- Reviewing also means thinking about the way you identify, assess and control risks – do your processes work, or is there a better way to do these activities?
- Engage with your workers when reviewing for continuous improvement.
It's not all about paperwork
- Documentation should be used where appropriate to support your health and safety processes.
- However, good paperwork does not equal good health and safety.
- Documentation is not a substitute for having good processes and control measures in place to actively manage your health and safety risks.
The GRWM Regulations establish some specific duties of PCBUs in relation to hazard identification and management. In addition, there are also specific duties in relation to a range of other matters, including a duty to provide supervision, training and management and a duty to provide workplace facilities. In some cases, it is appropriate to implement the four-step model. In other cases, the regulations identify specific steps that must be taken by a Council or a PCBU, which need not exclude the use of the four-step process to identify other control measures that may be applied.
These other duties include:
- Duty to provide information, supervision, training or instruction (Regulation 9)
- Duties in relation to general workplace facilities (Regulations 10-12)
- Duty to provide first aid (Regulation 13)
- Duty to prepare, maintain and implement an emergency plan (Regulation 14)
- Duties in relation to personal protective equipment (Regulations 15-20)
- Duties to manage particular risks, namely risks associated with:
- Duties relating to exposure monitoring (Regulations 30 & 32)
- Duties relating to health monitoring (Regulations 31 & 34-42)
- Duties in relation to young persons at a workplace (Regulations 43-48)
- Duties in relation to limited attendance child-care centres (Regulations 49-52)
Some of these duties are discussed further below.
The HASIE Regulations established specific duties in regard to some matters. In some cases, these have been revoked by the GRWM Regulations. In other cases, they are still in force, and in some cases both sets of regulations can apply. Where two sets of regulations apply, please note the principle under Section 3(2) of HSWA... "that workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work or from specified types of plant as is reasonably practicable." Under that principle, it would seem that if control measures under either set of regulations were 'reasonably practicable' then the option offering the highest level of protection should be preferred.
Duties under these regulations include:
- Duties in relation to:
- Cleaning, maintenance, or repair of machinery (Regulation 17, HASIE Regulations)
- Woodworking and abrasive grinding machinery (Regulation 18, HASIE Regulations)
- Self-propelled mobile mechanical plant (Regulation 19 & 20, HASIE Regulations)
- Duties in relation to heights (Regulation 21, HASIE Regulations)
- Duties in relation to scaffolding (Regulation 22, HASIE Regulations)
- Duties in relation to excavation in construction work (Regulations 23-25, HASIE Regulations)
Some of these duties are discussed further below. More information can be found here.
Duty to provide information, supervision, training and information (Regulation 9 GRWM Regulations)
Councils must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that every worker who carries out work of any kind, uses plant of any kind, or deals with a substance of any kind that is capable of causing a risk in a workplace—
- has adequate knowledge and experience of similar places, and work, plant, or substances of that kind, to ensure that the worker carrying out the work, using the plant, or dealing with the substance is not likely to adversely affect the health and safety or cause harm to the worker or any other person; OR
- is adequately supervised by a person who has that knowledge and experience; AND
- is adequately trained in the safe use of—
- all plant, objects, substances, or equipment that the worker is or may be required to use or handle; and
- all personal protective equipment that the worker is or may be required to wear or use.
The PCBU must ensure that the supervision and training provided to a worker are suitable and adequate, having regard to—
- the nature of the work carried out by the worker; and
- the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time the supervision or training is provided; and
- the control measures implemented in relation to the work that the worker is undertaking.
The PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the training is readily understandable by any person to whom it is provided.
Duties in relation to general workplace facilities (Regulation 10 GRWM Regulations)
Councils must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that—
- the layout and maintenance of the workplace allows persons to enter and exit the workplace and to move within it without risks to health and safety, both under normal working conditions and in an emergency
- work areas have sufficient space for work to be carried out without risks to health and safety:
- floors and other surfaces are designed, installed, and maintained to allow work to be carried out without risks to health and safety:
- there is suitable and sufficient lighting to enable—
- each worker to carry out work without risks to health and safety; and
- persons to move within the workplace without risks to health and safety; and
- safe evacuation in an emergency:
- there is suitable and sufficient ventilation to enable workers to carry out work without risks to health and safety:
- workers carrying out work in extremes of heat or cold are able to do so without risks to health and safety.
A Council must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that adequate facilities are provided for workers at a workplace, including toilets, drinking water, hand-washing facilities, meal break facilities, and facilities where workers can rest (if it is not reasonable for a worker to leave the workplace if they become unwell).
A Council must also ensure that the following facilities are provided for workers at a workplace if the work is of such a nature that the facilities are reasonably likely to be required:
- facilities for washing the body:
- a place in which to change clothes that become contaminated or wet:
- facilities for keeping clothes that will not be used at work clean and dry:
- if it is reasonable for workers to perform work while seated, facilities for sitting:
- if it is not reasonable for workers to perform work while seated, facilities for sitting that enable workers to take any reasonable opportunity for rest that may occur in the course of the work:
- facilities that prevent workers from becoming wet from a wet floor, whether by way of drainage of the floor or otherwise:
- facilities that enable any airborne contaminants to be controlled as closely as possible to their source and to be treated or carried off.
A Council must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the facilities provided are sufficient in number and are maintained so as to be in good working order; clean, safe, and accessible.
Duty to provide first aid (Regulation 13 GRWM Regulations)
A Council, or a PCBU must ensure that—
- adequate first aid equipment is provided for the workplace; and
- each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment; and
- workers have access to facilities for the administration of first aid; and
- an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace; or
- workers have access to an adequate number of other persons who have been trained to administer first aid.
Duties in relation to an emergency management plan (Regulation 14 GRWM Regulations)
A PCBU must ensure that an emergency plan is prepared and maintained for the workplace. The emergency plan must:
- provide emergency procedures, including:
- an effective response to an emergency; and
- evacuation procedures; and
- procedures for notifying emergency service organisations at the earliest opportunity; and
- medical treatment and assistance procedures; and
- procedures to ensure effective communication between the person authorised by the PCBU to co-ordinate the emergency response and all other persons at the workplace:
- provide for testing of the emergency procedures, including the frequency of testing:
- provide for information, training, and instruction to be given to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures.
Duties in relation to personal protective equipment (Regulations 15-17 GRWM Regulations)
A PCBU who directs the carrying out of work at a workplace must provide personal protective equipment to workers carrying out the work unless:
- the personal protective equipment has been provided by another PCBU, or
- a worker genuinely and voluntarily chooses to provide his or her own personal protective equipment for reasons of his or her comfort or convenience; and
- the PCBU is satisfied that the personal protective equipment provided by the worker is fit for purpose.
A PCBU must ensure that any personal protective equipment provided by the PCBU or the worker is—
- selected to minimise risks to health and safety, including by ensuring that the equipment is—
- suitable, having regard to the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work; and
- a suitable size and fit and reasonably comfortable for the worker who is to wear or use it; and
- maintained, repaired, or replaced so that it continues to minimise risk to the worker who uses it, including by ensuring that the equipment is—
- clean and hygienic; and
- in good working order; and
- worn or used by the worker, so far as is reasonably practicable; and
- compatible with any other personal protective equipment that is required to be worn or used by the worker.
In addition, the PCBU must provide the worker with information about, and training and instruction in,—
- the proper wearing or use of personal protective equipment; and
- the storage and maintenance of personal protective equipment.
The worker must wear or use the personal protective equipment in accordance with any information, training, or reasonable instruction by the PCBU.
A PCBU who directs the carrying out of work at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that—
- personal protective equipment to be worn or used by any person other than a worker at the workplace is capable of minimising risks to that person’s health and safety; and
- the person wears or uses the equipment.
A person other than a worker must wear or use personal protective equipment at a workplace in accordance with any information, training, or reasonable instruction provided by the PCBU at the workplace.
Duties in relation to exposure monitoring (Regulation 32 GRWM Regulations)
Exposure monitoring means the measurement and evaluation of exposure to a health hazard experienced by a person; and includes—
- monitoring of the conditions at the workplace; and
- biological monitoring of people
A PCBU with management or control of a workplace must ensure that no person at the workplace is exposed to a substance hazardous to health in a concentration that exceeds the prescribed exposure standard for the substance.
If the PCBU is not certain on reasonable grounds whether the concentration of a substance hazardous to health at the workplace exceeds the relevant prescribed exposure standard, the PCBU must ensure that exposure monitoring is carried out to determine the concentration.
Exposure monitoring required by regulations must be carried out:
- at appropriate intervals and after any significant change at the workplace that may affect exposure; and
- by, or under the supervision of, a competent person who has sufficient knowledge, skills, and experience in the appropriate techniques and procedures, including the interpretation of results.
The Council must ensure that the results of exposure monitoring —
- are recorded and kept for—
- 40 years after the date on which the record is made, if the monitoring is undertaken in relation to asbestos:
- 30 years after the date on which the record is made, in any other case; and
- are readily accessible to any person at the workplace who may be, or may have been, exposed to the health hazard.
A record of exposure monitoring results made available to any person at the workplace must not contain any information that identifies, or discloses anything about, an individual worker.
Duties in relation to health monitoring (Regulation 31 GRWM Regulations)
Health monitoring, in relation to an individual, means monitoring of the individual to identify any changes in his or her health status because of exposure to certain health hazards
A Council who is required by regulations to provide health monitoring to a worker must give specified information to—
- a person who is likely to carry out work that involves a health hazard; and
- a worker for the PCBU before the worker commences work that involves a health hazard.
A Council must ensure that health monitoring of a worker is of—
- a type recommended by an occupational health practitioner with experience in health monitoring; or
- a type referred to in a safe work instrument (if any).
A PCBU must ensure that the health monitoring of a worker is carried out by or under the supervision of an occupational health practitioner with experience in health monitoring.
A PCBU must pay all expenses relating to health monitoring of a worker.
A PCBU who commissions health monitoring of a worker must, as soon as practicable after monitoring is carried out, take all reasonable steps to obtain a health monitoring report from the occupational health practitioner who carried out or supervised the health monitoring.
As soon as practicable after the PCBU obtains the health monitoring report, the PCBU must give a copy of the report to:
- the worker.
- all other PCBUs who have a duty to provide health monitoring for the worker.
- the regulator if the report contains—
- any advice that test results indicate that the worker may have contracted a disease or an illness or suffered an injury as a result of carrying out work that involves a health hazard that triggered the health monitoring; or
- any recommendation that the PCBU take remedial measures, including a recommendation as to whether the worker is able to continue to carry out work that involves a health hazard that triggered the health monitoring.
A PCBU must ensure that a health monitoring report in relation to a worker who works for the PCBU is kept—
- as a confidential record that is identified as a record in relation to the worker; and for—
- 40 years after the date on which the record is made, if the monitoring is undertaken in order to detect asbestos-related disease:
- 30 years after the date on which the record is made, in any other case.
The PCBU must ensure that the health monitoring report is not disclosed to another person without the worker’s written consent
Duties in relation to young persons at a workplace (Regulations 43-48 GRWM Regulations)
A Council must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no worker aged under 15 years carries out the following types of work:
- the manufacture or preparation of goods for trade or sale:
- construction work:
- logging or tree-felling:
- the manufacture, use, or generation of hazardous substances:
- any other work of a type that is likely to cause harm to the health and safety of a person aged under 15 years
This does not apply in relation to a worker aged under 15 years who is carrying out administrative or retail work in a business or undertaking that does work of the types specified.
A Council with management or control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person aged under 15 years is present in any area of the workplace at any time when—
- goods are being prepared or manufactured in that area for trade or sale:
- construction work is being carried out in that area:
- a logging operation or tree-felling operation is being carried out in that area:
- work involving the manufacture, use, or generation of hazardous substances is being carried out in that area:
- any work is being carried out in that area that is likely to cause harm to the health and safety of a person aged under 15 years.
This does NOT apply in relation to a person aged under 15 years who is present at all times—
- in any part of that area to which the public generally has access; or
- under the direct and active supervision of an adult in that area that is appropriate to the age of the young person and the nature of the risks present in the workplace; or
- on a guided tour of that area; or
- in any part of that area that is used only for selling goods or services.
A PCBU with management or control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no worker aged under 15 years is required to lift any weight or to perform any task of lifting the weight or performing the task would be likely to be harmful to the worker's health. Other duties to young persons include ensuring they do NOT:
- work at or with machinery
- drive or ride upon certain vehicles
- carry out night work
Duties in relation to Heights (Regulation 21 HASIE Regulations)
Every employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure, in relation to every workplace under the control of that employer, that, where any employee may fall more than 3 metres,—
- means are provided to prevent the employee from falling; and
- any means so provided are suitable for the purpose for which they are to be used.
Further resources available
Have a look at industry-specific guidance and examples for these health and safety topics to help get you started.