Risks and Hazards

Today we are talking about Risks and Hazards and all that confusing stuff, in particular what do we need to know about risks and hazards with the Health and Safety legislation changes coming up.

So Penny Swarbrick came into studio and had a bit of a chat with Zane. Watch below

Watch Risks and Hazards - Workshop Wednesday (4:56)


Transcript

Zane
Hello, I'm here with Penny Swarbrick from Swarbrick Beck Mackinnon talking  about all this nonsense about risks and hazards, and all that confusing stuff. Because frankly, I'm just not getting it. So hopefully, Penny can help me out. What is all this stuff about risks? Aren't they just hazards?

Penny
Well, what the new legislation's going to do is it's going to change everyone's focus from dealing with hazards to dealing with risks. So it's kind of a similar sort of thing. But really what the legislation wants us to do is focus on the consequences to people or things that happen to them in the workplace. So it's asking us to look at hazards, not from the point of view of the hazard itself, but from how risky is it? What are the consequences going to be?

So, getting a paper cut, yes, it's a risk. But it's a pretty low one, when you compare it with the fact that you haven't got proper railing around your balcony, or something like that. So you're looking at the big stuff. So the risk is a lot higher.

Zane
Yeah, which, I think, is quite useful. Because often we get worried about the yogurt that's past its due by date in the fridge. But we're not concerned about it, like you said, the railing, that you can fall off the balcony, or the guy that keeps driving his car really, really fast, past the entry.

Penny
That's right. Or, say you're in a business that involves caring for people, and there's a lot of lifting involved. You might have noticed that there's a lot of people getting back injuries, which might not have been focused on previously. But that's a huge risk in those kinds of businesses. You're gonna have your workers away from work all the time. So we need to focus on those kinds of things. And the obligation of every duty-holder, whether you're with the PCBU or the worker is to manage the risks. That's what the Act asks you to do.

So managing a risk means either eliminating it altogether, if you possibly can. If you can't eliminate it, then do something to minimise it. Isolation has gone out the window.
We're eliminating or we're minimising risks.

Zane
That's cool. It sounds like it's quite sensible, really. Because to me, the focus has often been around the accidents and the stuff that happens. We kind of deal with that. But what we're talking about is kind of a precursor to the accident happening and saying, let's talk about what are the risks right now. Nothing's actually gone wrong.

Penny
It's a subtle, but important distinction. But it's all part of changing our mindset. There's a lot of terminology changes in this Act which are designed to make us view health and safety differently.

Zane
OK. And I heard that there's no serious harm anymore. That's what all the cool kids are talking about now. And that's just fantastic.

Penny
Well, you did hear correctly. But serious harm definition, at the moment, is one which people are always arguing about. Because is this serious harm? Is that serious harm? Do we have to notify it? The new legislation takes that argument completely away. And it's given us a couple of pages of things that it sees are notifiable events, or notifiable injuries, or notifiable illnesses. And it's a absolutely totally comprehensive list, which covers everything that is already in the serious harm list, things that we're arguing about, whether they are or they're not makes it completely explicit, very expansive definitions. There's a comprehensive list of illnesses that now need to be notified, illnesses from exposure to things in the workplace, and significant incidences and fatalities are all in this category of notifiable events.

And if you've got a notifiable event, then the obligation is to immediately notify WorkSafe of it and that's immediately, by the fastest means possible in the circumstances. So it's no longer a fill out a form within 24 hours. It's immediately, fastest means possible, moving with the times.

Zane
Well, I think it's quite good. Because it stops all that odd, do we do it today? Do we do it tomorrow? It's actually just we do it as soon as possible. We do it now.

Penny
So every business needs to have a system to know who it is that's in charge of that. And they need to be notified, not tell the supervisor, who tells the leading hand,who tells the production manager, who might or might not be on holiday.

Zane
Right. And if that person is away on leave, they have to have systems and backups for that. So it still happens, right?

Penny
Absolutely, Yes. It's the business' obligation, not any individual's.

Zane
That's fantastic. It's good to know some of these things because stuff does go wrong. I mean this is the real world out there. If we know what those things are, and make sure that we're letting WorkSafe know, what is it? As fast as possible, essentially.

Penny
Immediately.

Zane
I like now. Yes, do it now.

Penny
And it's going to be pretty obvious what's serious.

Zane
That's fantastic. Thanks Penny, a bit about risks, and a bit about what we're gonna do in notifiable events.