You may know that the introduction of the Model Worker Health and Safety (WHS) Act obliges employers across Australia to provide sufficient worker health and safety standards to avoid risks of injuries and other types of psychological and physical harm to their employees.
The Act, which was finalized in 2011 and revised in 2014, covers sufficient grounds to explain how companies operating in construction, mining, and other industries involving chemicals and unsafe working environments need to take strict health and safety measures. Other companies that make regular use of their mobile workforce are also covered by the Act, which puts a whole different meaning to mobile workforce management practices.
However, the real question is, “Can companies afford to be non-compliant?”
There may be some companies who may view conforming to the Act, an unnecessary expense. But, with the heavy costs associated with penalties introduced in the Act, managers and executives need to think twice about neglecting the health and safety of their mobile workforce.
What is the cost of non-compliance?
The impact of the Model WHS Act, alongside the Model WHS Regulations, can be viewed in terms of the different penalties it has stipulated for corporations, officers, and workers themselves.
The WHS Act and Regulations both emphasize the importance of complying with strict measures for protecting remote employees working alone. Any found to breach these regulations will be severely penalized.
The penalties cascade into three different categories for workers, officers, and the corporation.
Category 1 involves a health and safety breach that leads to a severe illness or health injury as a result of recklessness and without any excuse. If the corporation is found to have a role in such breaches, it can face a maximum penalty of $3 million. Officers and workers can face fines up to $600,000 and $300,000 respectively, along with a 5 year prison sentence.
Category 2 consists of a breach of health and safety regulations leading to severe illness or individual worker death in which there is no evidence of recklessness committed by the entity. Upon prosecution, the corporation can face a $1.5 million maximum penalty while officers and workers can face a penalty of $300,000 and $150,000 respectively.
Category 3 includes all other health and safety duty breaches and contains the smallest amount of penalties for the corporation, officers, and workers. Despite being the least severe category, a corporation can still face a maximum penalty of $500,000 if found guilty for its part.
Recommendations for businesses
Companies should critically consider their management practices if they want to avoid facing heavy penalties and fines. A company that is found guilty of not complying with health and safety laws and/or negligent in the injury or death of a worker, suffer a lot more than financial penalties.
It can seriously compromise their trust and credibility as a business and they may have to invest heavily in public relations and branding to restore damaged reputations.
Therefore, it is crucial that they refer to the WHS Act and Regulations guides to make sure they offer the highest working standards for their mobile workforce and invest in solutions that can help them conform to their duties. Investing in journey management systems, such as JESI, can be extremely important for facilitating travel risk management practices.
Solutions like these will protect your business’ credibility and ensure you always operate within the legal framework.