Lecturer: Essay Example

  • Category:
    Management
  • Document type:
    Essay
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    3
  • Words:
    1917

Work Health and Safety Act

Lecturer:

Introduction

In the Northern Territory, key legislation such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 has made it impossible for organisations working within the territory to overlook workplace health and safety (WorkSafe 2014). Besides, there are a range of financial aspects tied to this particular legislation. Issues such as claims for damages, disruptions and loss of confidence in the organisational management, as well as lost goodwill affect an organisation’s finances significantly, and may in certain circumstance lead to the organisation’s total collapse. To this end, it is significant for any organisation to comply with the existent policies, to monitor the updates in the health and safety regulation and to innovate significantly in order to minimise risks. This essay argues that Work Health and Safety Act 2011 simplifies safety management systems relevant for all workplaces by using a holistic approach to promote industry-wide involvement, safety culture within the organisation, employee involvement, effective leadership style and safety and health training.

Work Health and Safety Act 2011: Brief Background

Good health and safety is not only significant in human terms. Rather, it is among the most effective ways to promote successful and sustainable enterprises. Besides, having simple cost benefit analysis falls short of effectively ensuring health and safety within the workplace, since it is almost impracticable to establish the cost of unquantifiable losses — including pain and suffering caused to a worker and his family (Zanko & Dawson 2012). In this case, implementing a good health and safety is the moral and legal obligation of the organisation or employers, as it comes with legal bindings.

Like other Australian states and territories, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth is committed to promoting the work health and safety of all workers, aside from improving productivity and harmonising work health and safety legislation. The Northern Territory introduced Work Health and Safety Act 2011 into the territory’s legislative assembly in October 2011 before it was passed in December that year. The work health safety regulations within the territory are regulated by the Northern Territory WorkSafe. Work Health and Safety Act 2011 set out the specific law about requirements for health and safety in the workplace, use of substances, and use of plant and work activities (WorkSafe 2014). The primary object of the Act is to promote a balance and consistent structure to secure the health and safety of workers at their various workplaces and across industries.

In today’s litigious society, compliance with health and safety at the workplace is no longer an optional luxury. Despite this, studies have showed that many businesses still opt to shirk their obligations relative to the implementation of certain health and safety legislations to ensure safety culture (Agwu 2012). According to Robson and Bigelow (2010), this is since the financial cost of compliance with the legislations has been assumed to be extreme for the employers. This thinking has, however, been misguided. In various jurisdictions, including the Northern Territory, health and safety regulations depend significantly on an organisation’s adoption of the ‘anticipationist approach’, which proposes that compliance with regulations should be viewed as a pertinent risk management measure based on their benefits, since lack of compliance may collapse the business. Apart from the conception that it is increasingly difficult to demonstrate the links between the resources committed to ensure workplace safety and the consequences of the risk, Robson and Bigelow (2010), argues that the health and safety legislations should be viewed based on its benefits.

To this end, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 should be viewed in terms of the direct and indirect benefits in particular aspects of the organisation and occupational health and safety practices (Northern Territory Government 2010).

Holistic Promotion of Health and Safety

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011, promotes industry-wide involvement to ensure health and safety. Indeed, among the key features of the Act is that it encourages industry participation [Section 4(1) and (2)] and cooperation. Hence, all individuals paying commissions or wages within and outside the employer’s premises are also protected by the Act. The first objective is that the Act protects workers and any other individuals against any form of harm to their safety, health and welfare by eliminating or minimising the risks that arise from particular types of substances or plant. The Act also provides for fair and effective workplace representation, cooperation and conflict resolution, in order to promote a healthy and safe working environment. To ensure this, Section 3(1) encourages employers and unions within the industry to take constructive roles in ensuring improved workplace and safe work practices, and help individuals and persons to ensure healthy and safe work environment.

The Act promotes safety culture within the organisation. Sukadarin et al. (2012) defines a safety culture as the technique of managing the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of the workforce with the objective of ensuring safety within the organisation. It is also described as learned and shared interpretations and experiences of work and safety expressed by certain groups of individuals. Overall, such beliefs and values interact with the workplace structures and control system to generate safety management systems that uphold desirable behavioural norms (Gill & Shergill 2004). The Work Health and Safety Act 2011, seeks to substantially promote safety culture within the organisation. Additionally, Work Place Safety Act offers an important framework in the workplace for inculcating good safety habits, in order to stimulate good safety culture at the workplace. The Act sets up a framework for individuals through prevention of workers’ exposure to risks, as set out in Section 3(1)(a).

The Act also promotes employee involvement in ensuring health and safety at the workplace. Desa et al. (2013) defines employee involvement as behavioural-oriented techniques involving certain people in an upward communication flow and making of decisions at the workplace. The Act is designed to promote optimal understanding, support and contribution of employees within the organisation, as well as commitment to the objectives of ensuring health and safety at the workplace, through duty of care. This is specified in Section 19(1)(a) of the Act. To this end, the Act regards each employee as unique human being who can significantly help the organisation to attain its health and safety goals. An additionally key feature is that the Act enforces workplace health and safety obligations on individuals who may impact the health and safety of other individuals by what they do or do not do.

The Act influences the leadership style. Desa et al. (2013) define leadership style as the combined efforts of the management to attain short-term and long-term objectives within an organisation. Leadership style is the process whereby individuals get to influence other individuals to attain certain common objectives. To a greater extent, the Act serves to influence the leadership styles with the view of promoting worker safety. In any case, an employer has to ensure health and safety at work for all employees. Knowing what the Act does affects employers and employees, as well as any other party within the workplace. Under Section 19(1)(a) and (b) of the Act, employers are obligated to ensure safety of the workers, as well as any other person within the workplace. Here, an employer can be described as any organisation or individual who has engaged the services of other individuals. The employers’ duty is the more extensive duty of care under the common law. Essentially, the employer has a duty to provide accident free premises, safe equipment and plans, as well as safe work system. Employers are hence obligated to comply with such regulations to promote safety culture (Puplampu & Quartey 2010). As stated by Johnstone (2008), occupational health and safety (OHS) management systems seeks to protect the safety and health of worker by designating the roles and obligations related to workplace health and safety, setting up organisational targets and objectives associated with workplace health and safety, planning and setting up the maintenance of hazard controls, tracking and assessment of the effectiveness of a system’s implementation (Kasperczyk 2010).

The Act promotes safety and health training. According to Shan (2011), safety health training refers to a proactive safety measure designed to behaviours that can address unforeseen hazards. Among the effective solutions to performing safe work practices include training to motivate workers to adopt behaviours that are aligned to achieving the safety goals within the organisation. The Act seeks to promote provision of information, education, advice and training to workers as set out in Section 3(1)(d). Further, Section 3(2) specifies that the principle of workers and other individuals should be accorded utmost protection against any form of harm to their safety, health and welfare from any forms of risks or hazards at work or originating from particular substances or plants.

Conclusion

Work Health and Safety Act 2011 simplifies safety management systems relevant for all workplaces by using a holistic approach to promote industry-wide involvement, safety culture within the organisation, employee involvement, effective leadership style and safety and health training. Hence, the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 should be viewed in terms of the direct and indirect benefits in particular aspects of the organisation and occupational health and safety practices. To promote industry-wide involvement, Section 3(1) encourages employers and unions within the industry to take constructive roles in ensuring improved workplace and safe work practices and help individuals and persons to ensure healthy and safe work environment. To promote safety culture, Section 3(1)(a) Act sets out that a framework for individuals, through prevention of workers’ exposure to risks, should be set up. To promote effective leadership style, section 19(1)(a) specifies that employers are obligated to ensure safety of the workers, as well as any other person within the workplace. To promote effective education and awareness, Section 3(1)(d) specifies that information, education and advice should be provided to workers.

Reference List

Agwu, M 2012, «Impact Of Employees Safety Culture On Organisational Performance In Shell Bonny Terminal Integrated Project,” European Journal of Business and Social Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 70-82

Gill, G & Shergill, G 2004, «Perceptions of safety management and safety culture in the aviation industry in New Zealand,» Journal of Air Transport Management vol. 10, pp.233–239

Johnstone, R 2008, «Harmonising Occupational Health and Safety Regulation in Australia: The First Report Of The National OHS Review,» Journal Of Applied Law And Policy, pp.35-58

Kasperczyk, R 2010, «Corporate Responsibility for Systematic Occupational Stress Prevention,» Journal of Business Systems, Governance and Ethics vol. 5 no. 3, pp.51-70

Desa, A, Habidin, N, Norhafizan, S, Fuzim N & Zamri, F 2013, «Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Practices and OSHA Performance in Malaysian Automotive Industry,» Journal of Studies in Social Sciences vol. 4 no. 1, pp.1-15

Northern Territory Government 2010, Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011, viewed 5 May 2014, http://notes.nt.gov.au/dcm/legislat/legislat.nsf/2afcb7bfe1e1348e6925705a001697fb/9e5b4dd8589f5ce76925797c0082e913/$FILE/Repw025.pdf

Puplampu, B & Quartey, S 2010, «Key Issues on Occupational Health and Safety Practices in Ghana: A Review,» International Journal of Business and Social Science vol. 3 no. 19, pp.151-156

Robson, L & Bigelow, P 2010, «Measurement Properties of Occupational Health and Safety Management Audits: A Systematic Literature Search and Traditional Literature Synthesis,» Can J Public Health vol. 101 Suppl.1 pp.S34-S40

Science Vol. 2 No. 4 pp.176-183 International Journal of Humanities and SocialSukadarin E, Suhaimi, N & Abdull, N 2012, “Preliminary Study of the Safety Culture in a Manufacturing,”

WorkSafe 2014, New Work Health and Safety Laws, viewed 4 June 2014, http://www.worksafe.nt.gov.au/Legislation/New%20Work%20Health%20and%20Safety%20Laws/Pages/default.aspx

Zanko, M & Dawson, P 2012, “Occupational health and safety management in organizations: A review, “International Journal of Management Reviews, vol. 14 no. 3, 328-344.