All businesses, regardless of their industry, size, or scope, must ensure that their employees are working in safe, compliant conditions. The type of exposure hazards a business may be at risk of will depend upon numerous factors, including their industry, their operations set up, how many staff are typically onsite, and so on. Further, the ongoing pandemic has highlighted just how crucial compliant occupational hygiene practices are, as they simultaneously achieve several goals, including ensuring businesses meet their compliance obligations, keeping worksites safe, and providing reassurance to staff of their safety whilst at work. Companies that fail to meet their occupational hygiene obligations risk incurring huge fines, having their reputation damaged, and even place their ability to remain a competitive industry player at risk. This article will discuss how companies can avoid these risk factors by complying with their occ. hygiene obligations.
Occupational Health and Hygiene is protected by legislation
Different states and territories of Australia will have unique workplace legislation in place, which clearly outlines what businesses must be doing to ensure they are meeting their occupational health and hygiene obligations.For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 outlines all workplace health and safety laws within Victoria. It clearly explains the importance of safe work practices, and outlines the key roles and responsibilities all businesses have in creating safe, compliant workplaces.
Companies that fail to meet the requirements outlined in the Act may be endangering the health and wellbeing of their staff, by having them work at a potentially dangerous site. To ensure the compliance of their occupational hygiene practices, in which occ. hygiene risks are both identified and safeguarded against, companies should undergo an occupational hygiene audit of all their worksites, to ensure they are all operating within compliant standards.
This process sees certified occupational hygienists conduct an onsite audit of a work premises, to assess whether any occupational hygiene risks exist on the site, which could potentially endanger employees. If any are identified, the occupational hygienists will then provide the organisation with a clear action plan about what steps it should be taking to mitigate the risks, and to ensure they do not reoccur.
An occupational hygiene audit addresses a range of potential risks, including:
- Crystalline silica exposure: Silica is a natural, widespread mineral found in earth, soil, and rocks. Earthmoving, construction, and other businesses that require their staff to work on sites where objects are being cut into, drilled, grinded, and so on, may have their employees at risk of crystalline silica exposure, in which minute silica dust particles are inhaled by staff, which can cause acute respiratory and lung problems. An occ. hygiene audit will gauge whether the onsite exposure levels exceed compliance standards and, if so, the occupational hygienists will help the business develop strategies for mitigating the risks, and meeting and maintaining their occ. hygiene obligations.
- Hazardous goods and potential chemical exposure: All businesses that work with chemicals or other potentially hazardous goods are at risk of employee exposure, and endangering their staff wellbeing. It is crucial to recognise that effective occupational hygiene practices in this area will address this issue from several different perspectives. The business will need to ensure that safe, compliant handling processes are in place, to guarantee the safety of staff who may come into contact with potentially dangerous goods as part of their role. Further, companies must ensure that all potentially hazardous goods are securely stored whilst on site, and when being transported. Certified occupational hygienists will assist with the process, by helping the business to fully identify the scope of hazardous goods they work with, and to ensure that compliant practices are implemented when dealing with them across all stages.
- Air quality testing: Onsite atmospheric and air conditions must be safe for all staff. This is both a regulatory obligation, and conducive to a happy, productive workplace. This means that businesses need to ensure their worksites are safe from all air quality risks, including dust exposure, exposure to pollutants, steam, and mould. This auditing process will ensure that onsite exposure levels do not endanger staff, and that clear processes are implemented to help organisations meet and maintain their air quality compliance requirements.
Occupational hygiene practices should also address a range of other factors
This article has provided a brief introduction into some of the more common occupational hygiene risks that businesses may be exposed to, and how an occupational hygiene audit helps businesses meet their obligations and avoid fines. However, there many other potential occ. hygiene risks that businesses may be exposed to, from ill-suited lighting, radiation risks, dangerously loud noise exposure, and so on.
The best way to get on top of this issue, and demonstrate a commitment to safe, compliant occ. hygiene practices in the process, is to undergo an occupational hygiene audit. It is an easy, hassle-free process, in which certified occupational hygienists visit your worksite at a time that is convenient for you, and conduct a compliance and safety assessment of its existing occupational hygiene practices. Following this, your company will be provided with a clear action plan for what steps need to be taken to mitigate any risks¸ meet and maintain its regulatory obligations and, in the process, demonstrate a commitment to the health and wellbeing of its employees.
Contact our certified occupational hygienists to get this process started
If this article has left you wanting to find out more about this process, and the benefits it can bring to your organisation, then please contact our certified occupational hygienists today by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 1300 802 163, for a brief, obligation-free consultation with our specialist consultants. After telling them about your operations, and some of the occ. hygiene risks it is facing, they can arrange for an audit to be conducted of your premises, under COVID-Safe conditions. Doesn’t that sound like a safe prospect?
Please click here to read more about how this process demonstrates a commitment to safety.