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Lessons Learnt From A Safety Regulator Visit

Dowell Solutions had a client who had the unfortunate experience of having an employee injured at work that resulted in a broken leg. Due to the incident being a Notifiable Incident the safety regulator  Inspector called the client and made an appointment to come and discuss the incident. My client called me and asked if I could be present at the meeting and if I could assist in what they needed to have ready for the visit.

So we gathered all the paperwork such as policies, procedures, forms, and sign-offs that demonstrated that the injured employee had been inducted to the business, trained to do the task that was being done during the incident, and the procedures that it covered.

During the Inspector’s visit, the incident was discussed, how it was investigated, and what had been done since the incident. On this occasion, we were advised by the Inspector that he would be recommending that no further action be taken in regards to this particular incident and that he believed that nothing else could have been done to prevent it from occurring.

As you could imagine hearing this was a great relief to my client.

However, the Inspector didn’t stop there. He then proceeded to ask questions that were not related to the incident, such as do you have a safety representative on-site? How do you consult safety to your employees? Are your employees happy with this arrangement? And do you have any hazardous chemicals on-site?

My client was able to answer all the questions confidently and appropriately. But when my client answered ‘yes’ to the question, “Do you have any hazardous chemicals on-site?”, the Inspector then asked what they were, and requested a copy of their Hazardous Chemicals Register.

Although we were both confident that a Hazardous Chemicals Register had been completed, the register could not be located due to changes in personnel over the Christmas break. As my client was unable to present a copy on the day to the Inspector they were in breach of the WHS Regulation 2011 and received an Improvement Notice from the Inspector and was given 30 days to provide a list of all the Hazardous Chemicals on site.

Due to good management, my client was able to prove that other systems were in place to help manage their safety onsite which meant they avoided a possible penalty fine of $6,000 for an individual or $30,000 for a body corporate.

This experience is a kind reminder to us all that:

Safety Regulators have the right to look into other parts of your business regarding safety matters.

  • When people change positions we often lose sight of some of the tasks that were being completed.
  • A Hazard Chemicals Register must be kept.

If you have hazardous chemicals on your site, you must have a register of all of them, plus a copy of their current Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and if you need a template Dowell Solutions has one that you can use by clicking here.