To help you navigate the COVID pandemic, we’ve put together a FREE CovidSafe Resource Kit, available here

Author: alex


Why you should never share WHS documentation with your mates

You can share all kinds of things with your mates; especially if you’re both small business owners dealing with the same day-to-day struggles. Sharing your wins and frustrations with someone who gets it is invaluable for business development and even your mental health.  

Great friendships are born from business relationships every day and that’s a brilliant thing. But there’s one thing you should never share between businesses — your WHS documentation. Here’s why: 

Sharing WHS documentation puts people at risk

The ultimate goal of WHS compliance is the safety and wellbeing of the people that make your business function – your workers. If WHS information or documentation is being recycled from one business to another, there’s no way that documentation addresses your highly specific WHS needs the way it should. And we’ve seen first-hand that any gaps in WHS documentation can be dangerous.  

Alison Wolf, one of ASSA’s Senior Workplace Safety Consultants, says, “Companies have different workers so what might be acceptable for controlling risks to one worker or workforce may not be appropriate for a different worker or workforce.” 

Alison also explains that a shift in mindset is essential to holistic work place safety. “Most small businesses see WHS as a chore that detracts from their actual work time, rather than a positive required to keep workers safe.” Recognising that WHS is about people may help you look at it as more than just a set of documents to tick off a list. 

Sharing WHS documentation can get you in legal trouble

WHS documentation shared across multiple businesses is almost never legitimate because it’s not truly tailored. Even if two companies are within the same industry and it appears that you are doing essentially the same work, there are always differences. As Alison points out, “Even companies of the same industry may use different tools and equipment, or have different processes by which they perform their work which may create differing hazards/risks or controls.” 

According to Safe Work Australia, Australian WHS authorities undertook over 230,000 workplace interventions in the 2019-20 financial year with over half of those being proactive (rather than reactive) visits. That means that even if you’re fortunate enough to avoid a workplace incident, a WHS inspector could visit your workplace without notice and conduct a review of the facilities as well as your WHS documentation. They will quickly identify if documentation isn’t aligned with your operations. 

Source: Safe Work Australia Comparative Performance Monitoring Report 23 

Sharing WHS documentations actually makes WHS way harder 

Like most things, WHS compliance is most manageable if you do it correctly from the start. Piecing together compliance using information from a mate’s business will cause you stress and likely leave you feeling like it’s impossible to implement and maintain compliance. We sometimes call this “patchwork compliance” and it’s the opposite of the holistic, functional safety culture we help our members develop. 

As Les Blake, another senior member of our Compliance Team explains it, “It would be like trying to use an owner’s manual for a Toyota Corolla to drive a Mustang – there will be some similarities but the differences would not be addressed, or even identified, leaving the user at a high risk of an accident.” 

So, what’s the first step toward tailored WHS compliance? 

We get it. It’s easier to “tweak” existing documentation than start from scratch. Especially because many business owners don’t know how to find the gaps in their existing workplace health and safety documentation or processes.  

Australian work health and safety law states that any business must: 

  • provide a safe work environment 
  • provide and maintain safe machinery and structures 
  • provide safe ways of working 
  • ensure safe use, handling and storage of machinery, structures and substances 
  • provide and maintain adequate facilities 
  • provide any information, training, instruction or supervision needed for safety 
  • monitor the health of workers and conditions at the workplace 

You could start by stepping back and using these headings to create a checklist of your business’ specific WHS requirements. If you find there are significant gaps or your operations are complex, you may need to enlist the help of an expert auditor to inspect your workplace and analyse your operations; they can then make recommendations and even put a step-by-step plan in place.  

The bulk of the work goes into putting that solid foundation in place and if you need assistance, one of ASSA’s auditors can work with you to put a comprehensive plan in place. However, many sole traders or small businesses are able to lay these foundations themselves with a WHS management system such as ASSA’s Work Safety System for Sole Traders or Work Safety System for Small Business

And for businesses of any size, the ASSA Work Safety System is an all-in-one system that makes it easy to maintain WHS compliance in the long-term. Our members have access to hundreds of templates, checklists and other resources, industry or operation-specific procedures, customisable induction courses, as well as cloud storage and internal team chat so you can keep everything in one place.

And best of all – as WHS laws change, our in-house compliance experts update the resource library to ensure your business remains compliant. 

How can small business owners work together to tackle compliance? 

Even if sharing specific documentation is off the table, there’s still value in keeping the work safety conversation going with your small business mates. Alison suggests that business owners can help each other maintain safe, compliant workplaces by sharing information about what’s worked for them.  

She says, “Business owners can help each other by sharing information relating to improvements in safety due to different equipment/ or engineering of equipment or processes, new or improved communication methods, or ways to make documentation easier and less time consuming.” 

Health and Safety

World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day

Safety and Health at Work – This year’s theme is – Act together to build a positive safety and health culture. It’s is an excellent opportunity to reflect on how we prevent employee injuries, diseases and illnesses. A fatality in the workplace is heart breaking and unacceptable. Unfortunately, 194 workers lost their lives in 2020*.
*Safe Work Australia data

By boosting awareness of the importance of health and safety in the workplace, Australian companies can implement a practical and preventative approach to work and ultimately save lives. Recently, businesses have had to adapt their WHS practices and procedures to keep employees and customers safe. For that reason, we put together a free Covidsafe resource kit that you can download here.

ASSA has been helping companies foster a robust work health and safety culture with a complete software solution.

Keith Niven

“Very useful resource that can save time especially for a small company that does not have the resources to constantly follow the changing laws.”

Paula Watkins

“We have had exceptional service from the team at ASSA… Keeping up to date with the latest WHS requirements has made my job so much more easier to be able to spend time on other important areas of the business.”

Sharon Rogers

“The information, documents etc provided by being an ASSA member has helped me immensely with trying to keep up with WHS requirements in the workplace, job sites, providing info to companies etc learning what is required and helping to make things quicker and more streamlined.”

Nicole Ash

“I absolutely rely upon ASSA for our WHS documents and information. The ASSA team are informed, always available and give me confidence in our paperwork and compliance.”

Jodie Logli

“Everybody I deal with at ASSA has been fantastic, very helpful and go above expectations. We are very happy with the service.”

Ray Fellows

“The ASSA System of Compliance is second to none. It has made our business not only compliant, but safe for everyone involved. The ASSA system helps our business be as professional and up to date as possible in this complicated world, especially now with COVD 19. This product is essential for any business.

I cannot recommend the staff, namely Andrew and Maria of ASSA, any higher. They checked, re-checked, monitored and patiently explained everything to me. I am 60 years old and ASSA’s system is easy to use.”

Troy Redden

“In the 6 months we have been using the ASSA system, we have secured multiple jobs and contracts with major building companies. I would highly recommend ASSA services to any other company looking to get ahead of the competition.”

Fran Unthank

“We have been members of the ASSA System for several years now, and use the templates and forms on a regular basis. In our line of work – service and maintenance of commercial and industrial air conditioning systems, we must provide our clients with up to date Safe Work Method Statements and Safe Work Procedures for each job that we carry out.

All of ASSA’s documentation is of the highest standard, so I know I can issue documents under our name with the assurance required by some of the biggest names in our industry.

I have not had to contact the ASSA team very often as the system is so comprehensive, but of the times I have contacted the team, the service has been fantastic. ASSA researched my questions and provided satisfactory responses each time.”

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