5 Things Every Business Needs to Have to Ensure Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety

Ensuring workplace safety is more than just a requirement for many businesses in Australia. For many organisations, it’s also a key element to success.

A safe workplace is a happier and more productive workplace. After all, no one likes to work in any place that could harm their health and well-being.

Although the measures required for ensuring workplace safety will vary between businesses, there are many fundamental things that every business needs to have to keep their employees safe.

Here are five of them:

1. Safety program

A comprehensive safety program is one of the most important things any business must have to ensure workplace safety.

A well-designed safety program will provide details on the different procedures and equipment required to keep your employees safe on the job. It should include what to do in the event of emergencies (e.g. evacuation plans) and how to prevent accidents and minimise risks in the workplace.

Make sure to formalise and document your safety program in writing so that all your employees – current and future – can access it, understand it, and follow it.

Above all, make sure that you implement your safety program. No matter how good your safety program is, it will not keep your employees as safe if your organisation does not apply it.

2. Appropriate training

Training your staff for emergencies and situational risks will help keep your employees safer and create a more secure workplace.

Training provides the opportunity to test your safety program while arming them with the experience to know what to do when an emergency strikes. With appropriate training, your staff can respond to emergencies and workplace risks faster and more effectively. This can greatly reduce the risk of such events if it happens.

Aim to provide training that best applies to your organisation and workplace. This may include scheduling activities like fire extinguisher training and evacuation exercises to orient your staff with emergency procedures.

3. Fire safety equipment

Fires are among the biggest risks for many workplaces in Australia, so having the right fire safety equipment in the workplace is critical.

Essential fire safety equipment include:

  • Smoke and fire alarms
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire blankets
  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Fire hose reels

It’s important to determine exactly what fire safety equipment your organisation needs because each workplace’s requirements will vary.

4. First aid kit

A well-stocked first aid kit can help reduce the effects of an injury or illness in the workplace and provide relief until professional medical assistance arrives.

It’s also often the first line of treatment for minor injuries or ailments in the workplace, making it a requirement for many worksites in Australia.

When organising your site’s first aid kit, make sure you consider the nature of your work, the risks/hazards your employees are exposed to, and the size of your company and building.

5. Safety verifications

Verifying your safety program and procedures is one of the most effective ways to ensure workplace safety.

Third-party evaluation from qualified and accredited regulators will help you make sure that your safety program is suited for your staff’s safety and well-being. It will also identify areas that you may need to change, improve, or update to ensure workplace safety.

You can also train some of your employees to become accredited safety specialists who can evaluate your safety program and make sure it complies with industry regulations and guidelines.

Need more safety training and expert advice?

When it comes to workplace safety, there’s no such thing as being too safe. If your business needs expert advice and recommendations for fire safety and emergency training, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help.

Servicing Popular Fire Safety Equipment in Homes or Small Businesses

Fire extinguishers may last for several years, but they don’t last forever. They also tend to become less effective over time. Like other fire safety equipment, fire extinguishers need to be replaced after a certain period of time, even if you’ve never used them. (Fire extinguisher manufacturers often recommend replacing them every 5-15 years, depending on the extinguisher.)  You’ll also need to check them regularly to make sure they’re still in good condition, with no signs of wear or damage.

For home extinguishers read the manufacturer’s directions on the extinguisher.

Fire Extinguishers

Ref (AS1851 – 2012 sect 10)

Fire extinguishers shall be serviced—

(a) six-monthly (consists of an external inspection and some measurements);

(b) yearly (same as 6 monthly but can include internal inspections in some extinguishers); and

(c) five-yearly (generally includes pressure testing the cylinder, note it is often cheaper to buy new extinguishers than to pressure test).

Upon installation and after any usage, a six-monthly service shall be carried out. The starting date for five-yearly service shall be either the date of manufacture of the extinguisher or the date of last pressure test, whichever is the later. If the date of manufacture or last pressure test cannot be reliably established, a five-yearly service procedure shall be carried out on the extinguisher.

Adverse operating environments 

Unless protected from the effects of an adverse operating environment (any extinguisher located outdoors), extinguishers located in such environments shall be subjected to a more comprehensive service program by conducting the five-yearly inspection, test and routine service schedules, every three years

Fire Blankets

Ref (AS1851 – 2012 sect 11)

The frequency of routine servicing of fire blankets shall be in accordance with the following:

(a) At intervals not exceeding 6 months (blanket is removed and inspected for defects).

(b) When defects are suspected (if so blankets are replaced).

Hose Reels

Ref (AS1851 – 2012 sect 11)

Fire hose reels shall be serviced—

(a) six monthly (includes an external inspection and check for leaks); and

(b) yearly (as for 6 monthly plus a flow test to ensure correct flow rate).

For each of these pieces of fire equipment a Servicing Tag attached to the item will be stamped for the Month of the Year.

Summary records (a written document) must also be provided by the servicing company.

EXTINGUISHER & HOSE REEL SERVICING

To meet Australian Standards AS1851


Type

Servicing required

6

monthly

12 monthly

3 yearly

(adverse conditions)

5

yearly

ABE Dry Powder Extinguisher

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

CO2 Extinguisher

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Air Water Extinguisher

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Air Foam Extinguisher

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wet Chemical Extinguisher

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fire Blanket

Yes


Hose Reel

Yes

Yes



Need training to know how to use this equipment?

Check out our training courses to learn how to properly use and handle fire safety equipment.

General Information on Smoke and Fire Alarms

Like fire extinguishers, many people assume that smoke and fire alarms last forever and don’t need maintenance or replacement once they’re installed. But, in fact, you need to check and maintain these alarms regularly. Aside from replacing their batteries or power sources once they’ve run out, you’ll also need to test them regularly to make sure they’re functioning properly. Smoke and fire alarms that are running low on power or not working properly are practically useless.

Upgrading Smoke Alarms (Ref: https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/community-safety/smokealarms/Pages/default.aspx )

Old ionisation smoke alarms can be slow to react, and may not give you or your loved ones enough time to escape.

That's why there's new legislation to install photoelectric smoke alarms, which have been proven to be more effective in the domestic home.

Upgrading your smoke alarms today could save a life.

Landlords​​​​

From 1 January 2017

Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms that comply with new Smoke Alarm legislation, introduced on 1 January, 2017.

Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago, as well as any smoke alarms that do not operate when tested, must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard 3786–2014.

Landlords and renters

Within 30 days before the start of a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the lessor/landlord must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling.

During a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the tenant must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling, at least once every 12 months.

To test a smoke alarm, press the 'test' button. Cleaning should be done according to the manufacturer's instructions, which is usually vacuuming.

You do not need to be qualified or licenced to clean or test a domestic smoke alarm.

Some real estate agents may outsource smoke alarm maintenance to another company with associated fees paid by the landlord. The real estate may request a "certificate of compliance" from these companies as proof of service. This is not a legal requirement but may be part of the real estate agent's internal process.

From 1 January 2022

If you are not compliant by 1 January 2022, you will not be legally able to rent your property. You will be forced to lose any current tenants and cover the costs to find new ones.

For An Owner Occupier

For existing dwellings from 1 January 2017

Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms which comply with Australian Standards (AS) 3786-2014. (Note: the date should be stamped on the back)

Smoke alarms that do not operate when tested must be replaced immediately.

Existing hardwired smoke alarms that need replacement, must be replaced with a hardwired photoelectric smoke alarm.

From 1 January 2027

All existing private homes, townhouses and units will require photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms. These must be either a hardwired (eg. 240v) or non-removable 10 year battery powered type alarm.

The legislation requires smoke alarms must be installed in the following locations:

  • on each storey
  • in each bedroom
  • in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
  • if there is no hallway, between the bedroom and other parts of the storey; and
  • if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.

New Dwellings and Dwellings Being Renovated

From 1 January 2017

As part of a building approval process, requiring a Building Certifier, all new homes and renovations should have the required smoke alarms installed pursuant to the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC), formally known as Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Building Regulation 2006.

What are the standard requirements?

Smoke alarms in the dwelling must:

  • be photoelectric (AS3786-2014); and
  • not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
  • be hardwired to the mains power supply with a secondary power source (i.e. battery); and
  • be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together.

The legislation requires smoke alarms must be installed in the following locations:

  • on each storey
  • in each bedroom
  • in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
  • if there is no hallway, between the bedroom and other parts of the storey; and
  • if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.

Smoke alarms must be hardwired, or for existing dwellings, they can also be powered by a non-removable 10-year battery

Its always important to stay on top of requirements.  The Queensland Fire Emergency Services website will provide current requirements regarding Smoke alarms.

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