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Many small to medium sized business owners feel overwhelmed with implementing an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management System in their business. They feel it is too big a task and then justify why not to do it. If you look at the big picture of having a fully completed OHS Management System implemented into your business it’s not surprising you feel overwhelmed.

What if you approached implementing your OHS Management System the same way you learnt your trade or any other big task? This is by taking it one step at a time. You learnt on the job, did some study, had mentors and each day you learnt more and practiced what you learnt.

Occupational Health and Safety, OHS or the newly termed Work Health and Safety (WHS) is as simple as identifying the risks and hazards in your workplace and taking practical measures to prevent them causing injury or illness. Going about this is also simple if you approach it in a systematic way and continue to implement and improve your system regularly.

Why have an OHS Management System?

As a business owner you have a legal responsibility called a ‘duty of care’ to protect the health, safety and welfare of people in your workplace. This includes people who work for you casually, part-time, full-time, as volunteers or as outworkers. You must also make sure that no one else, like your customers/clients, subcontractors, neighbours, visitors and passers-by are put at risk because of your work activities.

Manufacturers, importers or suppliers of plant and substances must make sure their products do not present a risk to health and safety. If you modify an existing piece of equipment you also take on the responsibilities as a manufacturer.

Workers also have a duty of care and must follow instructions relating to health and safety, and avoid putting other people at risk.

Your OHS Management System is a planned set of activities to make your workplace and work activities safe by making sure hazards in your workplace are dealt with in a systematic way rather than in response to a crisis. This will help to protect your business, workers, customers and your personal liability as a business owner. It will enable you to comply with the new Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation and reduce costs associated with work-related injury and illnesses.

To make sure your work activities will not harm anyone, you have to be aware of everything that could go wrong, and then do whatever you can to make sure it doesn’t happen. There are some essential steps involved in an OHS Management System. These steps are to identify the hazards, assess the risks and then control the risks. This process is the same, whatever the hazard and whatever the size of your business. It pays to think about the little things that could end up becoming a big problem as the benefits of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) or Work Health and Safety (WHS) go beyond avoiding compensation claims and potential fines. You will also benefit in creating happier, healthier and more productive workers.

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