Monday, 30 December 2013

End of the Year Celebrations: Mitigating Health and Safety Risks

It is easy to get so caught up in planning end of the year celebrations that you don't give a second thought to the potential health and safety risks. It is particularly important for companies to be aware of these risks, as a small incident can quickly escalate into a sexual harassment case or bullying. The good news is that there are a few simple strategies that you can take that will greatly increase the safety of everyone at the functions:

·         Establish clear, written policies. Typically businesses have multiple policies that overlap for social work functions including policies for social media, alcohol, drugs and workplace respect. If you do not already have policies in place for these aspects of your company, it is never too late to establish them. Make all of the policies clear- put them into writing and make them readily available.

·         Provide training for and send out reminders about company policies. If you have brand new policies and/or your staff has not gone through policy training in a while it is best practice to require a training session before any end of the year celebrations. Don't leave everything until the last minute and simply hope for the best. It is especially important for managers to get trained as they are often expected to monitor functions for policy compliance. To guarantee smooth events make sure that the managers understand their role at functions.

·         Be aware of Fair Work Commission (FWC) laws. As of 1st January 2014, employees have the right to lodge bullying complaints with the FWC. These complaints can lead to consequences for businesses as well as individuals. For serious incidents, the matter may also be sent to a health and safety regulator who can further investigate the situation and potentially enforce additional consequences.