Primary Duty of Care - reviewing your health and safety systems
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Primary Duty of Care – reviewing your health and safety systems

Primary Duty of Care – reviewing your health and safety systems

“Primary duty of care” (Section 36 of the Health and Safety at Work Act) is, in my opinion, one of the key sections that all businesses should take note of, understand its application, and apply to their businesses.

Many business owners don’t know it exists, let alone understand its implications if they get it wrong – as seen in the below article. This company is not alone, and many of the prosecutions awarded by the courts are based on the failing to comply with section 36.

Pukepine Sawmills sentenced after workplace death

To make this work for your business, I have used section 36, and developed the following checklist. I recommend that you take time to carry out this for a gap analysis for your business, and close the gaps in your management and health and safety systems.

DEFINITION: The primary duty of care

(1) A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of—

(a) workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking; and

(b) workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU, while the workers are carrying out the work.

(2) A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

Question – Has the business undertaken a full risk assessment of all processes in its operations?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(3) Without limiting subsection (1) or (2), a PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, —

(a) the provision and maintenance of a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.

Question – Does the business have a documented plan for the management, maintenance, and monitoring of its work environs?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(b) the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures.

Question – Does the business have a documented maintenance and preventative maintenance plan for the safety of its plant and structures?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(c) the provision and maintenance of safe systems of work.

Question – Has the business identified and developed a portfolio of documented safe systems of work, SOPS, SWMS, or other documents for the induction, instruction, and training for all its employees, including administration section?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(d) The safe use, handling, and storage of plant, substances, and structures.

Question – Has the business developed systems, processes, and safe work methods/SOPs for the safe handling, and storage of plant, substances and structures that comply with known legislation, 2017 Hazardous Substance Regulations, ACOPS and other industry codes of practice and best practice?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(e) The provision of adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers in carrying out work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities.

Question – Has the business recently reviewed, updated, maintained, or designed its facilities to ensure they are adequate, clean, and that they meet local body and national safety standards, and are maintained so they are fit for purpose?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(f) the provision of any information, training, instruction, or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.

Question – Does the business have a formal training, education, and supervision plan in place for management of new and existing employees, to ensure they can perform their duties safely and be free from harm?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

(g) that the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing injury or illness of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking.

Question – Has the business established a system to identify work processes that could cause an injury or impact on the health of employees?

Question – Does this process also include a health monitoring process for employees who are exposed to health impact related processes?

YES   NO

Rate your effectiveness – 1 Lowest to 10 Highest

If your business is scoring 8 or less on each question, then action needs to be taken to improve the systems to protect your employees and your business.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss.