It is a requirement of the WHS laws, that a business must ensure all staff receive appropriate training in the risks and hazards associated with the work that they do, and the controls that have been implemented to address them. Many businesses do not understand this requirement is a positive, or proactive ‘duty’ which means that even if there is no incident onsite the business and officers face fines if they can not demonstrate that they have appropriately trained staff in the risks, hazards and controls associated with their role.

Risks, Hazards and Controls

The business is required to assess the work and the workplace for risks and hazards and to implement controls to mitigate human harm.

The business is also required to train staff to ensure that they;

  • understand the risks and hazards associated with their work, and
  • understand the seriousness of the impact of the risks and hazards to them and others, and
  • understand the specific controls that have been implemented to mitigate the likelihood of injury, illness or incident, and
  • understand the process for responding to injury, illness or incident, and
  • understand the process for reporting injury, illness or incident, as well as near misses, and
  • understand the process for consulting on risks and hazards

In addition to actually communicating these elements to the staff, the business must be able to demonstrate that this communication has happened and that the staff have achieved the required understanding.

This is a proactive ‘duty’ of the business and its officers. This means that if a business is not conducting the instruction on risks, hazards and controls, and documenting it to allow an inspector to verify that the instruction happened and was appropriate, then the business and the officers of the business could face fines – even if there is no incident onsite, even if no-one is hurt.

Breach Penalties

The breach of a ‘duty’ without incident is a Category 3 breach which carries the following penalties;

  • To the Business; $500,000
  • To the Officers of the Business; $100,000
    owner, manager – personal penalty may not be paid by the business

Where there is an incident or injury these penalties can reach $3,000,000 to the Business and $600,000 (and/or 5 years Jail) to the Officers of the Business.

More than a fine

Training staff in dangers that they will face at work, and how they can protect themselves and others is about more than avoiding a fine, it is about making sure that the humans that work in our businesses go home safe. Most businesses take this aspect of safety training seriously and make sure their staff know what they need to know. The proactive duty fines exist to ensure that Businesses and Officers place the same level of focus on formalising the training outcomes and records so that they can be reviewed by an inspector.

Industry Safety and Compliance Training Solutions

ACAPMA offers a suite of industry safety and compliance solutions, delivered online and with extensive outcome communications, completion records and certificating. To learn more about ACAPMAs Training Solutions see; https://acapma.com.au/training/

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