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Workplace policies and procedures

As you have discovered, you have an important role in helping your organisation meet its WHS
obligations. Your workplace will have developed a guide that describes the legislation, regulations
and codes of practice in simple language that you should be able to understand. This guide is
referred to as workplace policies and procedures.
Workplace policies and procedures are usually developed for all aspects of the organisation's
performance. You are expected to follow these policies and procedures when you carry out your
duties.
A policy describes the overall approach the organisation has adopted toward a particular aspect of
its operation. That is, a policy describes what the organisation intends to do about something; for
example, your organisation may have a policy that promotes workplace diversity. The goal of this
policy would usually be to get the best possible outcomes for the organisation and its employees by
promoting and supporting workplace diversity.
A procedure is a set of instructions that an employee must follow to complete a task effectively
and/or safely, in a way that maximises efficiency and effectiveness. You may be introduced to your
organisation's procedures manuals during your training.
Your supervisor may expect you to develop the skills and knowledge to access your workplace
procedures for information, when you are unsure how to perform a task.
The procedures manual may be available in printed form, or electronically on your organisation's
computer system. It is essential that you know how to access information in the procedures manual
that is relevant to your role.

WHS policy and procedures


All workplaces in Australia are required to have an 0 HS policy that describes the organisation's
responsibility for the safety and health of its employees. The policy may also identify senior
management's goals and objectives regarding WHS and a general set of guidelines related to health
and safety in the workplace.
As you will discover later, you have a duty of care towards your colleagues, customers and visitors to
the organisation.
The WHS policy will help you to fulfil your duty of care. You may wish to ask your supervisor for a
copy of the WHS policy.
WHS procedures are a set of instructions that have been developed to ensure all employees work
safely and effectively.
WHS policies and procedures will usually include important information about:

use of personal protective clothing and equipment


personal presentation
standard precautions
safe handling of chemicals, poisons and dangerous materials, including material
safety data sheets (MSDS)
emergency and fire drills
general safety precautions
housekeeping
implementation of hazard identification and control systems
manual handling
staff development and training programs
waste management

workstations
emergency contact numbers
WHS personnel
location of first aid equipment
selection, use and storage of personal protective equipment
information on local doctors, hospitals and ambulance services.

You will find general information on these aspects of WHS throughout this workbook.

Personal presentation
Your organisation may have a policy that gives advice to employees on appropriate personal
presentation. These guidelines may have been developed to help employees meet the requirements
of relevant regulations. Employees in retail, health and hospitality, for example, may have to ensure
they maintain a clean, neat and tidy appearance and dress in a manner that is not likely to offend
customers or patients, or risk contamination. You may be required to wear a uniform. It is important
that your clothing is ironed, clean and kept in good condition. You may find your workplace
procedures require employees with long hair to have it tied back neatly and that makeup and
jewellery are kept to a minimum.

Personal protective equipment


You may be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform some aspects of your
work. PPE is clothing and equipment designed to protect workers from direct exposure to blood,
body fluids, potentially infectious materials and other harmful agents in your work environment.
Your workplace WHS policies and procedures and your supervisor will give you advice about the use
of PPE. Your supervisor will make sure all necessary PPE is available in the proper sizes, is clean and
laundered, and that disposable gear is properly disposed of after it has been used.
It is essential that you use PPE correctly to protect your own health and safety. Your workplace is
responsible for supplying any PPE you require. You should let your supervisor know if the PPE that
you use needs repair or replacement.
The PPE that is used in your workplace will have been selected to suit the specific work the
employees perform. It could include:
overalls (usually fire resistant) to protect the body from grime and hazardous substances
safety boots to protect feet (compulsory on a construction site, and may be steel toe-capped and
have non-slip soles for grip)
safety gloves to protect hands against cuts, extreme hot and cold, chemicals and poisons
safety helmets and other head gear to protect the head against injury from falling objects
safety masks and goggles used for eye protection where eyes are at risk of injury from the use of
tools and hazardous substances
respirators used to protect lungs where workers may be working in noxious atmospheres or
confined spaces
ear muffs for use in noisy environments to protect against industrial deafness.

The use of PPE to eliminate or reduce risks to health and safety is a last resort, and is used only when
the equipment or process has a risk that cannot be eliminated or reduced.

Lesson task 2
On the following table identify the PPE that would be most suitable for protecting the health and
safety of the employee.

Hazard

PPE

Hilton is required to handle cash at reception in the Accident


and Emergency Room at the hospital. Vanessa needs to
deliver WHS posters to the production manager in the factory.
Rhys is required to work on the dock near the waste
compressor at the waste management service.
Stephanie is preparing sandwiches for lunch in the board
room.
Sermsah is a laboratory technician handling chemicals.
Camilla needs to deliver handwritten phone messages to
workers on a construction site.
Standard precautions
In your workplace you may be required to use standard precautions, which are work practices
related to infection control. They include good hygiene practices, such washing and drying hands
before and after patient contact in a medical environment.
Workers in a medical environment will use standard precautions when handling sharps and other
contaminated or infectious waste. Workers in industries that involve preparing food would also use
standard precautions. It is important that you carefully follow any standard precautions that are
prescribed for your workplace.
The following example is of hand-washing procedures.

Example
Hand-wash procedures for City West Medical Centre

Hand washing and hand hygiene is the most important measure in preventing the spread of infection. All
employees of City West Medical Centre are required to use standard precautions and frequent hand
washing to remove visible dirt and soil and potentially harmful microorganisms.
The objective of this policy is to minimise the risk of cross-contamination through physical contact with
patients and colleagues, and touching inanimate objects, such as door handles and telephones.
The following procedure is followed for a routine hand wash:

Wet hands thoroughly and lather vigorously using mild liquid soap .
Wash for 10 to 15 seconds.
Rinse under running tepid water.
Dry thoroughly with paper towel using a patting action.
Do not touch taps with clean hands - use paper towel to turn taps off.

Material safety data sheets


Your organisation may use a range of chemicals, hazardous substances and work-related equipment.
These may be specialised items that are used in production or in a medical environment. However,
most office environments will also have chemicals (toners for a printer or photocopier, for example)
that pose a risk to workplace health and safety if they are not used correctly.
Manufacturers of chemicals and hazardous substances are required by law to provide material
safety data sheets (MSDS) to their customers. The purpose of an MSDS is to explain the correct
storage, care and handling of the manufacturer's products.
You should make sure you know how to access the MSDS for any product you are likely to encounter
in your role. You have a responsibility to make sure you follow the MSDS instructions. Your training
should include how you can use the information on the MSDS to assist with health and safety in the
workplace.
Organisations are required to have an MSDS for any hazardous substances, including chemicals, in
the workplace. If you become aware that your workplace is not maintaining a current MSDS for a
product, you must alert your supervisor so they can contact the supplier. The manufacturer will
arrange to mail or fax the most recent version to you. MSDS can also be downloaded from the
Internet.

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