Maintaining a safe workplace protects your workers and your productivity.
As a business owner, you have a legal responsibility to ensure your workers are safe - physically and mentally - in your workplace. That means protecting them from physical health risks like slippery floors or hazardous materials, and mental health risks like bullying or harassment.
Work Health and Safety (WHS) is about placing safety at the centre of your policies and actions and should be included in your business planning and decision-making.
Your safety responsibilities extend to everyone in your workplace – employees, including apprentices and trainees, contractors, work experience students and volunteers, customers, suppliers and other visitors. They also have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own and other people’s health and safety while they’re in your workplace.
When you demonstrate a commitment to workers' health and safety, you help to build a positive workplace culture and set an example for your workers to follow.
Establishing and maintaining good work health and safety practices can have many benefits for your business and there’s support to help you.
Establishing a safe workplace, can help you achieve benefits including:
- Workers who are safe from harm and happy to come to work
- Higher retention and attraction of workers re-assured by your commitment to safety
- Reducing workplace injuries means less disruption, increased productivity and less resources spent on worker’s compensation
- Better chance of winning tenders or retaining contracts by meeting workplace safety and health requirements
- Cheaper business insurance due to your good safety and health record
- Complying with legal obligations protects you from penalties which range from fines to imprisonment
- If you run a family business, keeping a safe workplace ensures family members stay healthy and your business can continue.
As an employer, you have a responsibility for establishing:
- a safe work environment
- policies and procedures and safe work practices
- safe use, handling and storage of machinery, structures and substances
- a work environment and culture that prohibits harassment and bullying
- induction processes, especially for new workers
- information, training and supervision for all workers
- required personal protective equipment (PPE)
- current health and safety policies and procedures.
Find out about employer’s safety responsibilities at SafeWorkSA.
Your workers also have responsibilities:
- to follow safety procedures
- report hazards
- look after their own safety
- protect their co-workers from risks
- treat co-workers with respect.
Advice and information
- SafeWorkSA oversees Work Health and Safety (WHS) in South Australia and provides information and advice to help local small businesses establish safe and healthy workplaces.
- Free advice and information are available from the SafeWorkSA advisory service. An advisor can visit your business for a free consultation to assess your WHS approach and provide practical support and advice if improvements are required.
Simple steps to ensuring safety in your workplace
- Get started by defining you and your workers’ responsibilities and allocate resources.
- Consult with your workers – they can identify risks and solutions.
- Manage hazards – identify risks, take action to manage them and develop simple and safe work procedures.
- Provide information, training and induction for your workers
- Maintain your safe workplace through:
- regular safety checks
- keep tools and equipment in safe working order
- use hazard, near miss and injury reporting processes
- plan and test for emergencies.
- Keep records – document your efforts to maintain and improve your WHS.
- Monitor, review and improve your safety policies and approach.
Find resources and information about health and wellbeing that can help keep you and your workers safe.
More resources and support
- Find out about your broad responsibilities from the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).
- See the specific requirements for particular hazards and risks, such as noise, machinery, and manual handling at Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA).
- Find practical information on how you can meet the requirements in the Act and Regulations at SA Codes of Practice.
- Find out about workers' compensation in South Australia at ReturnToWork SA.