Australian OHS laws are pretty strict when it comes to workplace safety. In particular, they’re very specific when it comes to the storage and handling of hazardous chemicals.
Hazchem signs and emergency information panels, designated storage areas, ventilation… There are many requirements that businesses that work with hazardous chemicals need to follow.
Another one of these requirements? Consulting with your employees.
What’s more, if workers are part of a union or are represented by a health and safety representative, any discussion must also include said representatives.
Why is talking to your team so important that it was written into OHS laws?
1) It’s a legal requirement
And really, that should be all you need to hear!
2) Providing clarity
Obviously, if it’s something that’s explicitly written out in OHS laws then there’s no way around it.
The thing is, OHS laws can be a little bit… vague sometimes.
For example, when reading the laws surrounding the storage and transport of hazardous chemicals you’ll notice words like “reasonable” and “practical” thrown around quite a bit – what the heck does that mean, anyway?
The laws are deliberately written with a degree of openness to accommodate for the unique circumstances of each individual workplace.
As part of ascertaining what your workplace needs involves talking to your employees and getting their input.
Using their ground-level experience, they’ll help you achieve clarity and tell you what actions are reasonable or practical for your workplace.
3) It’s all about buy-in
If you’ve ever attended a management class, you’ve no doubt heard of the term “buy-in”.
You may also have read that employees buy-in to a rule, plan or system when they play a role in coming up with it in the first place.
Your hazchem safety plan is no different.
A key part in hazchem safety is getting your team to actively follow it – after all, what’s the point of a rule or system if nobody actually adheres to it?
In addition to all the other benefits, talking to your team when creating a hazchem safety system helps your team to buy-in and follow your system.
Put yourself in their shoes – if a rule is unreasonable or simply not realistic, are you going to follow it?
Of course, more realistic systems and plans isn’t the only way that talking to your team can increase buy-in – it’s also simple human psychology. Some studies draw direct links between employee participation and organisational change.
Want to ensure your hazchem policy is followed? Talk to your team and bring them on board.
4) These people work with chemicals on a daily basis
As such, they’ll be able to help you make a more informed decision regarding your systems and policies for handling and storing chemicals.
For example, a ground-level perspective can reveal issues that you as a manager or business owner are completely unaware of.
For example, certain types of chemicals require a well-ventilated storage area. However, the spot you’ve picked out could have ventilation issues, making it less than ideal.
Many chemicals are safe to dispose of by diluting them and washing them down a drain. However, certain drains have drainage issues which could influence whether or not you can store chemicals near them.
Unless you still spend a lot of time “on the front line”, this type of information only comes from talking to your team.
5) Keeping your plan up-to-date
Things change over time. Your team plays a crucial role in keeping your hazchem safety plan up-to-date.
In particular, they can help identify blind spots that you may have overlooked, or pick out issues that have arisen since you first created your hazchem plan.
As an example, let’s look at our specialty: hazchem signs.
In addition to mandating signs, OHS laws are very particular about:
- Where these signs need to be installed
- Minimum heights
- Sign visibility
While your signs might have adhered to these rules when you first installed them, the fact of the matter is that they no longer meet these requirements.
For example, in order to keep your signs visible, you need to:
- Ensure that they’re clean
- Maintain a clear line of sight
- Make sure signs are not obstructed
If you’ve recently made changes to the layout of your workplace however, such as installing a new shelf, visibility may be affected. This in turn means that your signs are no longer appropriate, and that your business is violating its legal obligations.
Luckily, talking to your team can help ensure that you’re on top of issues such as this.
Get the signs you need
Australia’s leading destination for hazchem signs and emergency information panels
Talking to your team is an important part of the safety equation – another part? Having good safety signs.
Sure, they might be as flashy or interesting – however, workplace safety signs are a crucial part of keeping your team safe at work, and ensuring that everybody goes home safe and sound.
Get the safety signs you need – our online sign store has everything you need to stay safe around hazardous chemicals.
With industry-leading turnaround time, we can get you the signs you need with minimal delay, meaning you don’t need to put your work on hold.
We stock all sorts of signs:
- Hazchem signs and emergency information panels
- Dangerous goods labels
- Custom safety signs for workplaces with unique requirements
- Emergency safety signs
- … and many, many more!
We’re hazchem experts – our team has worked with all sorts of businesses and is well-versed in all things Hazchem. Whether you need help interpreting hazchem laws or figuring out what you need to do, our team is here for you.