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As most business owners would know, developing compliant Occupational Health and Safety practices is an ongoing process. The slightest change in an operational set-up can expose staff to new risks, and companies must be proactive in both identifying them and taking appropriate action. Doing so ensures the health and safety of their staff will at no point be at risk. For this reason, it is positive to see that the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations have been amended to provide increased protection for staff exposed to respirable crystalline silica. This article will discuss what the amendment means for businesses and their staff, and how compliance to it and other OH&S Standards leads to strengthened, improved business processes.
The amendments mean safer business practices
The changes to the OH&S Regulations were made to strengthen the protective processes to staff exposed to crystalline silica. The amended regulations are distinguished by a heightened focus on safety when working with engineered stone. It focuses on several specific areas, including:
- The introduction of a licencing regime for engineered stone. Specifically, the amendments are the first licencing regime for engineered stone within Australia, and increase the duties of both manufacturer and supplier.
- Prescribing requirements for both working with engineered stone and “high risk silica work.”
- Maximise staff safety by prescribing eight silica-related offences and “infringement offences”, resulting in penalties for both the individuals deemed responsible, and businesses.
Further, to protect their staff all Victorian businesses that work with engineered stone will have to demonstrate compliance with safety measures, and obtain an operating licence.
An OH&S Management System keeps both employers and employees safe
The amendments came into effect on the 15th of November 2021, and replace the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Crystalline Silica) Interim Regulations. It makes permanent Victoria’s prohibition on uncontrolled dry-cutting of engineered stone. It increases the regulatory oversight of high-risk crystalline silica work across all business industries, including construction.
Clearly, staff safety is a pressing concern for both regulatory bodies and businesses across a wide range of industries. A single oversight or error in judgement could severely impact staff, leading to injury, illness, or even fatality. That is why it is crucial that companies approach the issue of effective Work Health and Safety practices in a compliant, methodical manner.
Business looking to reassure their staff, trading partners, and regulatory bodies that their OH&S practices are safe and compliant should consider implementing the ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Standards. It is an internationally recognised Business Management System that provides companies with proven successful approaches to developing compliant workplace health and safety practices.
Further, the Standards address OH&S practices from two complementary perspectives: physical and mental wellbeing. Specifically, the Standards ensure that businesses develop compliant OH&S practices across their sites that meet their regulatory obligations, and promote the physical wellbeing of staff, whilst also ensuring that supportive processes are in place to ensure that staff’s mental wellbeing requirements are met.
Our OH&S specialists are here to help
Reading this article may have left you with some questions about how the new amendments will affect your business, how the ISO 45001 Standards could be tailored to your operations, how long the implementation process usually takes, and so on.
Please contact our work health and safety specialists today by filling out this online contact us form, or by phone on 1300 802 163 for a short, obligation-free consultation. All you need to do is tell them about your company, its operational set up, and some of the OH&S challenges you are looking to address, and they can explain to you in detail how these amendments may affect your business, what you should be doing to prepare for them, the specifics about ISO 45001 implementation, and so on.
After this, they can arrange for a specialist consultant to work with you to implement these Standards, thus ensuring your organisation is in an effective position to start 2022: compliant and confident.
Please click here to read about how stronger OH&S practices has led to a decrease in workplace safety accidents.