Small Business Workplace Safety

Work Health and Safety (WHS) is a key management responsibility for every small business.

South Australia’s WHS laws took effect on 1 January 2013. As a small business operator you are responsible for:

  • Making your business safe, (adhering to workplace safety requirements)
  • Ensuring WHS is part of your business planning

Better WHS outcomes also improve your bottom line and help make your business more successful. Visit to find out more information about:

  • The WHS laws
  • Key terms such as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), Worker and Officer

Use the following seven step guide and check list to consider WHS and see how workplace safety can be improved.

  • STEP 1: Setting up a safe workplace

    Effective WHS management in a workplace requires strong leadership and a commitment from everyone to make the workplace as safe as it can be. To do this successfully people need to understand their responsibilities and how they can meet them.

    A written policy that is simple and developed by the business owner, in consultation with the workers, will go a long way to achieving this. A policy should:

    • Note the duties and responsibilities of all parties
    • State the commitment to improving WHS and consider how best to achieve a safe workplace
    • Be dated and signed by the owner and displayed at the workplace
    • Be accessible to all workers
    • Be reviewed from time to time
  • STEP 2: Consulting

    Business owners must consult with workers about WHS issues. Effective consultation encourages greater awareness of issues and can lead to an improved safety culture and outcomes.

    Consultation can occur through WHS committees, meetings or toolbox talks. General WHS information can be delivered through briefings, noticeboards, emails or newsletters.

  • STEP 3: Managing hazards

    The best way to prevent injuries or illness in your workplace is to find the hazards that could injure people and fix them.

    A good starting point is the S A F E approach to hazard management.

    Spot the hazard – find anything that could cause injury, illness or damage.

    Assess the risk – determine the likelihood that a hazard may cause an injury, illness or death.

    Fix it Early – prevention is the key. Take action to fix identified risks by trying to eliminate the hazard first or, if this is not possible, find ways to minimise it. Make sure that control measures you use to reduce the risk do not create new hazards or increase the risk of existing ones.

    Finding safety solutions can be as simple as asking your workers for their ideas, looking at information available from designers or manufacturers, getting help from an association or groups related to your industry, or considering relevant Codes of Practice or Australian Standards.

  • STEP 4: Informing, training, and supervising

    Inform and train your workers about particular job hazards and the workplace more generally as well as the safe work procedures you use to manage hazards in your business. Make sure that new workers are correctly inducted and supervised.

  • STEP 5: Maintaining a safe workplace

    Maintaining a safe workplace can be achieved by:

    • Carrying out regular safety checks
    • Maintaining workplace equipment and tools
    • Providing workers with easy to understand information and training on how to do their job safely
    • Having an incident/injury reporting process
    • Planning for emergencies e.g. fire, medical or chemical leaks
  • STEP 6: Keeping records

    Keeping records of your WHS activities will help you to monitor the health and safety performance of your business as well as meet your legal requirements.

    You will need to keep the following records:

    • Incidents and injuries, including near misses
    • Hazardous chemicals and asbestos register (if they are present at your workplace)
    • Plant registration documents
    • Tests, maintenance, inspection and other records for specic types of plant
  • STEP 7: Monitoring, reviewing, and improving

    Managing WHS is an ongoing process. Be aware that your safety processes, operations and workers may change over time and so can the risks. After you have established your WHS management system you should regularly review and make any necessary adjustments to keep it up to date.