We are continuing to see instances of companies and individuals being prosecuted under the WHS Act for failing to exercise due diligence in managing risk.
Just this last week, a Brisbane-based roofing company was fined $100,000 for failing to safely handle and dispose of asbestos when removing a storm damaged roof from a commercial property. Asbestos contamination of the showroom exposed roof-workers, the business employees, and public to risk of serious illness.
The duty to exercise Due Diligence with respect to health and safety lies with the Officer(s) of the organisation and cannot be delegated.
If you are senior management, a board member, or operating your own small business, you may be considered an Officer, dependent on your level of involvement in major decision-making. As per the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) section 9, an Officer includes a person:
• who makes, or participates in making decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the business;
• has the capacity to significantly affect the corporation’s financial standing, or;
• on whose instructions the directors of the corporation are accustomed to act.
In exercising Due Diligence, an Officer must take reasonable steps to:
• acquire and update their knowledge of health and safety matters;
• gain an understanding of the hazards and risks associated with the nature of the operations;
• ensure that the business or undertaking has, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks;
• ensure that the business or undertaking has appropriate processes for receiving and considering information about incidents, hazards and risks and responding in a timely way, and;
• ensure that the business or undertaking implements processes for complying with its duties and obligations.
If you’d like to learn more about your obligations, Improve Group are running a workshop on Due Diligence in the workplace, suitable for all Senior Managers, Officers, CEOs and Directors of organisations. This workshop is to help managers determine whether they are adequately protecting the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Contact us to find out more!