Chapter 3: Hazard and Compliance Checklists

To manage risks, an important tool is to first identify hazards and that is completed with a Workplace Hazard Checklist.

The model WHS laws require duty holders, for example PCBU to manage WHS risks in the workplace. To manage risks, an important tool is to first identify hazards which can be done in the form of a Workplace Hazard Checklist.

The Workplace Hazard Checklist can take several forms, including:
• Overall Company Workplace Hazard and Compliance Checklist. This is an assessment of the WHS Management Plan, generally an audit of the system for compliance with regulations, and an action programme to fill compliance gaps in the System.

• Workplace Site Inspection Checklist, or WHS Inspection Checklist (WHSIC), an initial inspection of specific worksites to identify hazards and establish controls to eliminate or mitigate risks involved. Follow-up inspections to be carried out daily, weekly or as conditions change on that site, and ensure hazards identified in previous inspections have been signed off as complete. This is required to be set up for each workplace site, based on standard checklist but revised to consider sitespecific conditions.

• Workplace Site Inspection Checklist for company base (eg office/workshop/ amenities, etc.) This checklist is not expected to change much, but workplace conditions need to be monitored to ensure safe working conditions are maintained.

WHS Inspection Checklists (WHSIC), or Workplace Hazard Checklists, are tools used by employers and/or safety managers to complete safety checks within your place of work.In the case of Landscapers and Gardeners, the workplace changes frequently, and a site-specific WHSIC should be developed for each site to capture the unique conditions that applies to that site. The checklist should be developed in consultation with work group representatives. This includes health and safety representatives (HSR), managers, workers and other interested parties.

For long-term sites, or regular clients, the initial WHSIC would address all hazards as new and set controls to mitigate the risks associated with the known hazards. Regular on-going WHSIC inspections would address any changes to the conditions, in response to a hazard report or incident, or rectification of house-keeping issues.

Employers should regularly inspect the worksite to ensure employees follow the rules and are keeping the workplace tidy and organized.

Reference: site-housekeeping safety.

When a workplace inspection is carried out, it requires a critical examination of the workplace to identify and report potential hazards that can be removed or avoided.

Workplace inspection should be supported by other measures to prevent risk. This includes consulting with workers, especially when changes are being proposed to a process, procedure or plant.

It is important to schedule regular workplace inspections. This recognises that workplace hazards come in many forms and need to be managed in a proactive way.

The checklist should consider the:
• Environment, including noise, vibration, lighting, temperature and ventilation.
• Equipment, including tools and materials.
• Work processes, including how the worker interacts with elements while carrying out a task or operation.

Things to consider when developing the WHSIC:
• Listen to the concerns of workers and their representatives.
• Review and analyse workplace hazards and incident reporting data.
• Identify existing and potential hazards and determine their underlying cause.
• Review how effective hazard controls that were previously implemented were.
• Identify areas which need special attention due to the nature of work carried out.
• Identify areas which need attention where data shows signs of stress, wear, impact, vibration, heat, corrosion, chemical reaction or misuse.
• The entire workplace area should be included in the inspection. This includes parking lots, building access, rest areas, storage and amenities.

Things to consider after each inspection:
• How the findings and corrective actions are being tracked, managed and completed?
• Who is responsible for ensuring findings are closed out in a timely manner?
• Whether the findings and corrective actions were discussed with the relevant work group?

If you identify an immediate or serious danger during a workplace inspection, immediately inform management.

Depending on the level of risk, work may need to stop until the risk is eliminated or adequate controls are implemented.

The important elements of each of the checklists is that records are kept each time they are used, and follow up close outs of identified hazards are recorded.

Regular inspection activity records are some of the major issues targeted by WorkSafe inspectors.

The checklist should be developed for each worksite by supervisor with input from workers planned for the site. A tool box meeting could be a good opportunity to pool the ideas together.

Example of Checklist records:
When a hazard is identified in the inspection, the action required should be determined from a Risk Assessment involving the supervisor, workers, and consultants if necessary to achieve the most appropriate action to manage the risk and establish controls based on the Hierarchy of Controls.

Hierarch of Controls:
In order: Most Effective to Least Effective:
• Elimination – physically remove the hazard.
• Substitution – replace the hazard.
• Isolation – isolate people from the hazard.
• Engineering Controls – engineer out the hazard for example guard.
• Administrative Controls – change the way that people work for example Safe Operating Procedures.
• PPE – protect the worker by providing appropriate personal protective equipment or PPE.

Other checklists n the case of the office, workshop or yard, typically consider housekeeping hazards, and equipment condition and guarding, but have the same format, and change only when conditions change.

WHS Management System (WHSMS) Compliance Checklist would consider the elements of the WHSMS and assess each as being compliant or not. The noncompliant elements should be actioned and made compliant.

This is typically a Gap Audit of the WHS Management System and would only be conducted every couple of years to monitor the company’s compliance, or when systems change within the organization.

Further Reading: The hazards Landscapers and Gardeners can be exposed to are many and varied, and the topics have been covered in previous LCM issues. Worksafe Victoria, SafeWork Australia, and many proprietary companies are a great source of detail for Checklists and compliance issues.

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