Workplace health and safety management system (WHSMS)
Southern Cross University's Work Health and Safety Policy sets out the University's commitment to continuous improvement of health and safety through a framework of consultation, specific responsibilities and the management systems that are to be implemented. The objective of the policy is to promote the health, safety and welfare of all University staff, students, contractors and visitors to the University. The policy also facilitates compliance with the provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (QLD).
The Workplace Health and Safety Policy is included in the online induction for new employees and is also available from the online SCU Policy Library. The policy is reviewed biannually.
Planning identification of hazards, hazard/risk assessment and control of hazards/risk
The overall approach taken by the University to the identification, assessment and control of health and safety hazards and their associated risks is described in the WHS Risk Management Procedures available online from the SCU Policy Library.
Legal and other requirements
The Workplace Health and Safety team has identified the health and safety legal requirements applicable to the University e.g. legislation, Codes of Practice and Australian Standards, and maintains a library for access by all staff. The Workplace Health and Safety team also maintains Chemwatch for access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The health and safety legal and other requirements are kept up to date by regular review of the legislation and participation in workshops, forums and programs run by the relevant state or territory authority e.g. SafeWork NSW and WorkCover Queensland.
Objectives and targets
Health and safety objectives and targets for the University are laid out in the WHS Plan. The Executive have accepted and implemented recommendations from the OHS Management System Audit that: "health and safety objectives and targets will be included in the operational planning for all work units on an annual basis".
WHS management plans
The WHS Plan provides the basis for individual work units, in their health and safety plans, to set local objectives and targets. As previously stated all work units now include health and safety in their operational plans.
The University has identified and allocated financial and physical resources to enable the effective implementation of the Workplace Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS). These resources are provided for in the provision of the budget allocation to the Workplace Health and Safety team and the overall budget of the individual work units.
Responsibility and accountability
The Work Health and Safety Policy clearly defines, documents and communicates the responsibilities and accountabilities of the Vice Chancellor, members of Executive, Heads of Work Units, Managers and Supervisors, Employees and Contractors and Subcontractors.
The Manager, Workplace Health and Safety has responsibility and authority for ensuring that the WHSMS requirements are established, implemented and maintained in accordance with AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational health and safety management systems, and reporting on the performance of the WHSMS to University Executive for review and as a basis for improvement of the WHSMS.
Training and competency
The University in consultation with employees identifies training needs in relation to performing work activities competently, including health and safety training.
The University determines the competencies, training and experience required by employees and others for the safe performance of the various tasks at the workplace. Job descriptions outline specific qualifications and competencies (including any prescribed by legislation) required. The annual performance management process also identifies training needs. There are situations where specialized training and qualifications are required such as where employees are required to work with radioactive isotopes and apparatus and formal training is provided by an external Radiation Expert. Specific training is provided for additional health and safety roles e.g. Emergency Wardens, First Aid Officers and Safety Support Officers.
An annual program of training courses in health and safety is displayed in the HR Services training calendar and are organised and run on demand.
Consultation between the University and employees is an essential part of effectively managing health and safety in the workplace. The University consults with employees so that they may contribute to decisions about the implementation of safety practices and systems designed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees. Employee involvement at all levels is critical for ensuring a safe workplace.
The University ensures that there is a sharing of relevant information about health, safety and welfare with employees; that the employees are given the opportunity to express their views and contribute in a timely fashion to the resolution of health, safety and welfare issues in the workplace; and the views of employees are valued and taken into account.
The primary method of consultation is through Health and Safety Representatives (HSR's) who are set up in accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
The University's WHS Policy, health and safety documentation and other relevant health, safety and welfare information is communicated to staff, students, contractors and visitors through the following media:
- Workplace Health and Safety website
- Targeted correspondence and emails to employees and students
- Online employee health and safety induction program
- Online contractor health and safety induction program
- Course unit handbooks
- Student information publications
- Safety manuals and Safe Work Procedures
- Safety signage
The University measures and reports its health and safety performance on a regular basis via:
- Workplace health and safety inspections
- Incident and hazard reports (submitted via online portal)
- Health, safety and injury management reports to the University's Executive and Council
- Health and safety assessment reports to Heads of Work Units
- Health and safety audits of the WHSMS
- Reports of injury to Workers Compensation insurer
The University has an extensive range of WHSMS documentation that is available to employees and students at the Workplace Health and Safety website. Policy and procedure documents are developed when required by new legislation, changes in procedures, new teaching and research activities or through trends identified in Incident, Accident and Hazard Reports and reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that they stay current. Consultation with the University community occurs during the development or review process. Direction to related documentation is provided through the Workplace Health and Safety website.
Document and data control
All central WHSMS documentation is recorded using standard templates and document control processes. System documents are maintained on the Workplace Health and Safety website. Changes to documentation are notified by email to the University community. Any hard copies of documents are considered to be uncontrolled. Policies are reviewed regularly in consultation with relevant stakeholders and approved by the Vice Chancellor. All policies are authorized by the Vice Chancellor and their issue date recorded on the document.
Managing operational risk
The University's procedure for hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control and the evaluation of effectiveness of control measures is documented in WHS Risk Management Procedures and can be found on the Workplace Health and Safety website.
The University uses the following methods to identify hazards:
- Safety audits - annual internal safety audits are conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the WHS Management System. The Manager (Workplace Health and Safety) provides an audit report and recommendations to the University Executive.
- Workplace inspections - systematic inspections of the workplace are conducted by a Safety Support Officer to identify the hazards that exist in the workplace. Depending on the work area, the type of inspection may be either:
- High risk e.g. laboratories, workshops and art studios ~ these inspections are carried out four times a year; and
- Low risk e.g. lecture theatres, administration areas and offices ~ these inspections are carried out two times a year.
- The Safety Support Officer, in consultation with employees, inspects and observes the workplace to identify any hazards. Hazards are documented on specific check sheets for the work area involved and recommendations provided for the Manager/Supervisor of the area. Where matters are not resolved, the Safety Support Officer may refer them to the relevant HSR.
- Incident and Hazard Reports - these reports are completed each time an incident, accident or hazard occurs. Reports are submitted online via the RiskWare portal and a centralised register is maintained (the Workers Compensation Act requires a register of injuries be kept). The Manager (Workplace Health & Safety) also provides advice on the action to be taken to prevent a recurrence of the incident, accident or hazard.
- Injury and Illness Records - statistics are gathered from Incident and Hazard reports to identify the presence of hazards, particularly where there is a reoccurring incidence of injury. The Manager (Workplace Health & Safety) provides a report three times a year on these statistics to the University Executive.
- Consultation - consultation is an integral part of the University's WHS Management System. In the workplace, HSR's consult with employees on WHS matters and bring any issues and concerns to the attention of the responsible Manager/Supervisor. The HSR's may also communicate the safety concerns and issues of employees to the head of the work unit. This involves providing assistance and advice to management on WHS policies and procedures and investigating immediate risks to health and safety. HSR's make recommendations on WHS issues that facilitate informed decision made by management. They also inform employees of WHS matters that may arise from workplace changes such as introducing a new piece of equipment.
- Health and Environmental Monitoring - where particular risks to the health of people on University premises or to the environment exist, or are suspected, (e.g. air monitoring for detection of hazardous contaminants and noise monitoring for loudness), technical advice on hazard controls from both internal and external WHS practitioners is sought.
- Incidental Identification - If employees notice a workplace hazard they are required to report the details to their Supervisor/Head of Work Unit, or if safe to do so, rectify the identified hazard themselves.
Monitoring and measurement
The University has a comprehensive program for the monitoring and measurement of key aspects of its operations and activities. This includes testing and monitoring requirements for aspects of the operation of buildings, equipment/machinery and apparatus, essential services, waste disposal, activities involving chemicals, radioactive substance/sources and apparatus covered under WHS and other relevant legislation. Health surveillance is carried out on a needs basis where possible exposure to a hazard may occur e.g. noise, insufficient lighting, and low/high humidity.
Incident investigation, corrective and preventative action
The University's WHS Risk Management Procedures details the procedures for reporting incidents and hazards. All incidents and hazards are reported via the online management system RiskWare. Records of incidents and reported hazards are maintained by the Workplace Health and Safety team and used for analysis and reported to University Executive three times a year, and included in annual reports to University Executive and Council. The data is also used to identify areas requiring action during the annual planning process. Preventative action is reviewed by the Workplace Health and Safety team to ensure completion and effectiveness.
Periodic inspections of all workplaces are undertaken. Once the inspection is completed by the Safety Support Officer, recording sheets are forwarded to the head of the work unit to implement corrective action and follow up.
Records and record management
Health and safety records are maintained in accordance with University records management procedures. Legislative requirements include maintaining all Incident and Hazard Reports and the confidential storage of Workers Compensation files. Examples of records maintained by Workplace Health and Safety include: induction and training; inspection and test reports; and chemical inventory database.
WHS Management System audit
The University periodically undertakes a comprehensive internal audit to evaluate the effectiveness of the WHSMS at university and academic/administrative level. The audit covers all aspects including: health and safety policy; planning; implementation; monitoring and measurement; and management review. Specific work unit WHSMS compliance internal audits are carried out annually with a three year rotation to cover all work units.
The Workplace Health and Safety team prepares reports for the University Executive and Council on the management of health and safety (WHSMS). The reports provides the necessary information on the performance of the WHSMS to enable review of the WHSMS on an ongoing basis, ensuring that the systems in place continue to meet the needs of the University.