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A health and safety issue is a hazard or situation which may have adverse impact on health and safety, and which has been formally reported by a worker. Identifying and resolving issues is key to workplace safety. By having defined, clear processes in place, issues can be resolved quickly, with minimum disruption to workflow.

Issue Identification

Health and safety issues can be identified by many people through different processes, including:

  • By employees in the course of their work;
  • By Health and Safety representatives or the WHS committee;
  • In the course of audits and workplace inspections;
  • During senior management team walk-throughs.

Once identified, issues should be raised via a formal issue notification form to provide a documented record.

Direction to Cease Work

There are certain instances when a manager or WHS representative will order certain work to be ceased before raising a formal notification to protect employees and the public. These instances include:

  • The issue raised involves an immediate threat to the health and safety of any person.
  • The risk is immediate enough to make it inappropriate to take time going through the normal resolution process.

Any workers whose usual activities are affected by the cease-work order may be assigned to suitable alternative work.

Nomination of a Management Representative

When an issue arises, a senior manager should be formally nominated as the Management Representative for the purpose of issue resolution. The Management Representative’s responsibilities should include dealing with WHS issues raised by employees in areas or departments without an WHS representative.

Issue Resolution Process

The issue resolution process should be defined and documented. Before it is implemented in the workplace, it should be reviewed and agreed to by the Workplace Health and Safety Committee. This review and approval process should be documented and records should be kept.

The issue resolution process should follow these steps:

  • Identified issues should be brought to the attention of the line manager responsible for that work area, the Management Representative and the area’s Health and Safety Representative;
  • If possible, the issue should be resolved promptly;
  • If that is not possible, a temporary measure should be put in place, until a long-term solution can be implemented;
  • Where applicable (e.g. life threatening situations) Health and Safety Representatives may issue a provisional Improvement Notice, or even order work cessation;
  • The long-term resolution of issues should follow the hazard and risk management process.

Resolved issues should be communicated to, and reviewed by, the Workplace Committee. Solutions to issues and hazards should be incorporated in the relevant procedures and work instructions (as appropriate) and communicated to other work areas where it may be applicable.

Full records should be kept of issue notification, temporary measures utilised, the resolution process and any other relevant documents and correspondence.

General advice warning

The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and requirements before making any decisions.

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