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Health and safety basics

Having great health and safety (H&S) practices is just part of having a great business. And, depending on what you’re already doing about keeping people healthy and safe, it’s not as hard, expensive or time-consuming as you think.

Think about your business and its risks

What’s important is that you treat H&S as part of your day-to-day business and manage it proportionately to the level of risk at your work. This means the greater the risks you have, the more vigilant you need to be. Businesses must always consider first whether they can reasonably eliminate risks. If not, do what is reasonably achievable to minimise risks.

In addition to setting out routine H&S practices, you’re also legally obliged to be prepared for, and have a plan on what to do after, an emergency or disaster.

Many small businesses think by law they must write  their H&S efforts down on paper.

Many small businesses think by law they must write their H&S efforts down on paper.

While this can be useful for some businesses, it’s not legally required and much simpler practices could actually work better.

Putting H&S into action

Luckily, H&S is not something you have to do alone. Everyone at your work has a role to play in watching each other’s back, identifying and managing risks, and ensuring a healthy, safe and incident-free work environment. H&S plans don’t necessarily require lots of paperwork or expensive equipment. Apart from obvious benefits such as worker well-being, it also helps:

  • increase productivity
  • reduce worker absenteeism
  • give your business a strong image
  • bring peace of mind to workers and owners
  • fulfil your legal responsibilities
  • open the door to tender opportunities and winning new work
  • keep customers happy.

H&S representatives and committees

Any business can arrange for one of its workers to be an H&S representative or set up an H&S committee.

Some businesses must have a rep, or consider a committee, if requested by workers. These are businesses with 20+ workers or those classed by law as being high-risk.

Which laws apply to your business?

Use our Compliance Matters tool to find out the legal requirements you and your business must follow. 

You can tailor your search by topic — eg taxes, exporting or health and safety — or to suit your industry or business structure.

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