No day is the same when you’re a plumber. One day you might be deep in a trench installing drainage for a new house and the next, you could be on a roof installing a flashing to a vent pipe penetration.
Each job comes with its own risk like working at heights or crawling through confined spaces.
Plumbers can come face to face with various work hazards that can cause serious injuries if safety measures aren’t put in place before work proceeds.
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) for plumbers is an important part of running a plumbing business. All plumbing businesses are obligated under Work Health and Safety Act to have a Workplace Health and Safety policy in place that is readily available for employees to read.
It ensures the safety of both plumbers and consumers, providing the right knowledge to manage risk and prevent a hazard from occurring.
The key objective of a Workplace Health and Safety policy for plumbers is to ensure it meets obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2022 and Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011.
What Should Be in Your Workplace Healthy and Safety Policy?
The heart of the policy should be to manage risk and to ensure everyone is safe on a job site. It should be easy to understand and simple to apply. The job site can vary from a residential home to commercial premises. A WHS policy should have applicable processes for all job sites.
Here are some key points to include in your policy:
- Ensure a safe work environment for all plumbers, employees, customers and the community when completing work at each job site.
- Provide workplace health and safety training for all plumbers and employees of the business. Ensure that training is reviewed regularly and keep accurate records of dates when plumbers and employees have completed their workplace health and safety training.
- Manage risk by identifying hazards, threats and near misses so they are identified, controlled and reviewed.
- Implement processes for safe working procedures and controls, ensuring each incident is recorded accordingly. Have a WHS Hazard and Incident Report Form easily accessible to be filled in when incidents or near misses occur.
- Complete relevant inductions, work method statements and toolbox talks for each project. Keep accurate records for each job site.
- Manage, store and handle materials to prevent injury or risk to the safety of others. Follow the handling of hazardous materials as per the data sheet.
- Handling procedures and safe use of tools and equipment
- Ensure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn for each job to prevent injury and harm when completing jobs on a worksite.
- Comply with safety standards including necessary inductions, required for each project from start to finish.
- Examine incidents when they occur and take corrective action. Amend work method statements and the WHS policy with new measures to prevent the event from occurring again.
- Provide measurable objectives and targets for WHS.
- Cultivate a supportive environment where safety and health issues are raised to management without fear of consequences or retribution.
Work Health & Safety (WHS) management systems
A Work Health & Safety (WHS) management system is important for all plumbing businesses as it not only ensures staff and consumer safety, but also helps businesses assess and improve their WHS operations and standards.
If your business is a member of the relevant Master Plumbers in your state, there may be systems readily available to incorporate into your business.
Regular Check-ins can Instigate WHS Compliance
Regular check-ins with staff can instigate workplace health and safety compliance. Ensuring a checklist for PPE is frequently used and consistent toolbox talks can prevent unexpected risks or hazards from occurring.
Early intervention ensures workers receive prompt engagement and assessment of the delivery of effective interventions to employees at risk or in the early stages of experiencing injury or ill health.
Feedback is important when delivering WHS talks with employees as this can warrant engagement during training and ensures employees feel heard. Ensuring your WHS policy is reviewed annually while discussing with employees, can not only ensure compliance but raise potential risks that hadn’t been considered on-site before.
While measures can be put in place for WHS, it’s important to achieve commitment from all employees to work cooperatively for the WHS policy to function.
If you’re looking for more information on creating a WHS policy for your plumbing business or to ensure your current policy meets its legal obligations, check our Safe Work Australia and Comcare websites.