WHS Law and “Assisting With Compliance”: A Requirement? A Skill? Or Both?
When people hear the phrase “assist with compliance” I suspect it conjures up images of heads stuck in tomes of legislation, standards, codes of practice and audit templates. But does assisting with compliance mean you have to know every piece of information by heart? I don’t believe so.
What it does mean to me though is:
- we have to know where to find the information we require
- we need to be able to interpret it; and most importantly
- we must have the ability to communicate it effectively to our audience.
The requirements within our WHS legislation and codes of practices are a foreign language to some of our colleagues. Just like computer coding and marketing jargon aren’t our speciality, so we should respect other’s areas of expertise and be prepared to simplify the data and communicate it in a succinct and effective manner.
“Quoting line after line of legislation – or ‘speaking legalise’ as I have heard it called – is a pointless exercise.”
Quoting line after line of legislation – or ‘speaking legalise’ as I have heard it called – is a pointless exercise; you will find yourself tongue tied and your audience will be lulled to sleep by the sound of your dulcet tones. An effective method of communication is to review the data, understand its intention i.e. what it is trying to achieve, and communicate the requirements as they relate to scenarios specific to your workplace, scope of work or other activities.
My experiences have shown me that seeking to understand the intention of the statute brings the compliance journey out of the ‘too hard basket’ and makes it a lot more user friendly experience. The codes of practice will assist with this exercise as they provide the more hands-on, real world direction that will help you assist others with their compliance journey.
Speaking of others, it is also crucial that we are able to identify the key stakeholders to communicate their responsibilities to. While the primary duty of care under the WHS Act is placed upon persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), there are also duties placed upon Officers of the PCBU, workers, contractors, visitors and other persons on and off site – can you identify the key stakeholders in your working environment?
“…know your audience and really work on your communication skills to break down any barriers between your audience and the gateway to a safe workplace.”
While the WHS legislation and some of its requirements are new, the approach for assisting with compliance is tried and true; be practical, know your audience and really work on your communication skills to break down any barriers between your audience and the gateway to a safe workplace.
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QLD Websites Referred To:
Work Health and Safety Laws: http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/law/whslaws/index.htm#.UwYzHXKYYq0
Codes of Practice: http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/law/codes/index.htm#.UwYrhHKYYq0
Bluff et. al., (2004). OHS Regulation for a Changing World of Work
Tanya Conole is an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) qualified and experienced Health and Safety Professional. Tanya’s passion is the creation of a positive and informed OHS culture through both the systemic and behavioural management of safety as well as constructive interactions and communications across all parties; rising to engage people in what it takes to go home safely and then providing them the structural framework and empowerment to do so.