An employer is not alone in the responsibility to create a safe workplace. Employees also have specific responsibilities to help you achieve this. You need to help employees to understand that the responsibility is shared and that a safer workplace requires close co-operation.
What you must do
- Make sure your employees understand that they must look after their own safety. They must use and take care of the protective equipment and safety gear provided, and follow safety procedures.
- Ensure employees understand they must not cause harm to any other person by either action or inaction.
- Understand that employees are obligated not to undertake work which is unsafe or involves unsafe practices. If they identify a risk they must fix it or promptly tell their supervisor if they see something that is unsafe. If they require items of safety gear then they should tell you.
- Accept your employee’s right to refuse to do work they believe is likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others.
- Get employees to report every incident, including a near miss, so it can be recorded, investigated, and steps taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
- Tell employees to inform you of any hazards they are aware of or that affect their work.
- Give staff the opportunity to be involved in improving workplace health and safety.
- Check that information and training provided has been understood.
What you could do
- Insert a Health and Safety clause in your employment agreements clearly outlining what you expect from employees, to ensure they take safety seriously.
- Encourage your employees to elect someone as the health and safety representative who will be responsible for liaising with employees, implementing plans and reporting new hazards to you.
- Work with employees on your emergency planning for fire, earthquakes, pandemics, etc.
- Encourage staff to speak up if they’re concerned about a safety issue. Making health and safety part of your regular team meeting can encourage employees to bring up issues.
- Get staff to let you know if they are feeling tired, stressed or are taking medication that might affect their ability to work safely.
- Remind staff never to take risks. Taking a risk once is too often.
- Ask staff to report any pain or discomfort as soon as possible.
- Get staff to keep their work area tidy to minimise the risk of any trips and falls.
- Because every workplace is different, employees are in a unique position to offer insight into how they and others in the workplace could be kept safe. They have a responsibility to share this knowledge.