Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) rules and regulations exist to protect workers from suffering injuries in the workplace. Despite these rules and employers trying their hardest to create safe working environments, tens of thousands of accidents still occur in workplaces every year. This may sound like a lot but as large as this figure is, it does not account for minor injuries, injuries where time off work has not been taken or where a claim has not been raised with WorkCover Queensland.
While it seems that accidents are inevitable no matter what precautions are taken, best practice is always to strive for the safest possible working environment. So, how can this be achieved? Employee training is not only the best way, but it is also compulsory and can be offered in many forms, lengths and intensities depending on the workplace and role.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 covers the WHS processes businesses in Queensland are obligated to follow and also provides the legislation that protects non-employees (such as customers), from workplace practices that may be deemed negligent.
WHS training is mandatory and it is expected to be provided as part of a new starter’s onboarding experience. This type of initial training should help the employee to understand the standards of the workplace, where to find a first aid kit and who to report an accident to. Where applicable, more specific examples of WHS should be explored, such as how to lift heavy items safely and how to ensure workstations are set up to prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders or Repetitive Strain Injuries.
WHS training also needs to be provided to existing staff when training manuals or courses are updated, if the business moves premises or if new equipment has been introduced to the business.
Other examples of mandatory training to prevent accidents, injury and even death that employers might be obligated to provide to their employees are:
Some roles performed in certain industries may also be subject to additional mandatory training to ensure they can safely undertake their jobs.
Examples of businesses where industry-specific training would be required include businesses where heavy machinery, chemicals and other materials that could potentially cause harm are being used in the workplace.
Fire and emergency training
Employees must be provided with adequate information on the company’s policies regarding fires and emergency situations. The information must be made accessible and should be displayed in obvious places around the workplace where they are visible to as many staff members as possible. It is also useful for businesses to keep a copy of procedures relating to fire and emergencies on their intranet page, should they have one.
The content this type of training should include is information regarding assembly points, fire alarms and safety equipment, as well as ensuring staff take part in evacuation training. A practice evacuation must also be performed at least once a year.
Can an employee make a claim for workplace injuries?
Employees who injure themselves during the course of undertaking their jobs may be able to claim workers compensation. Workers compensation payments are generally made to the worker until they have recovered from their injury to the extent that they are able to once again carry out the duties expected of them at work.
In Queensland, if it is found that there was an act of negligence on behalf of the employer and a failure on their part to offer sufficient training that would have prevented the employee’s injury, the employee may be eligible to pursue damages under liability laws.
If you require information about what training you are obligated to provide to your staff, you should seek advice from a personal injury compensation lawyer.