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Part of your legal duty as an employer is to maintain a safe working environment. In fact, you can be prosecuted for failing to ensure a safe workplace even when no accident or injury occurs. The prosecution does not have to prove that anyone was actually injured, only that an injury or incident could have occurred.

To help protect your workers – and avoid prosecution – you should implement a risk management system at your workplace. Risk management involves conducting hazard identification and risk assessment, and implementing, monitoring and reviewing control measures to reduce risks to the health and safety of workers and others.

Risk management is necessary to systematically identify hazards at your workplace that could create health and safety risks. It also helps you to take reasonably practicable steps to control the risks and monitor the effectiveness of the control measures.

Taking reasonably practicable steps involves measuring your actions against the standard of behaviour expected of a reasonable person in your position who has the same obligations.

Risk is defined as the likelihood of injury or harm resulting from exposure to a hazard, while a hazard is any situation, substance, activity, event or environment that could potentially cause an injury or illness.

Some hazards pose a significant risk to health and safety, while others pose a relatively low risk. And some industries are more high-risk, than others, such as the construction industry.


During a site inspection, it was found that part of an elevated walkway over a high-speed conveyor had no handrail or guards in place to stop people from falling onto the conveyor or into the lower level bulk storage area below (a fall of 20 metres). The walkway is the usual access point from one part of the building to another and it is likely that a fall could occur. If someone fell onto the high-speed conveyor, a fatality would be the most likely consequence. This is a high-risk hazard and control measures should be prioritised to reduce the risk as much as possible.

Part of risk management is to implement risk controls measures, and to ensure that these measures:

  • are complied with by workers;
  • continue to adequately manage the risks; and
  • do not introduce any other hazards into the workplace.

If a risk is not foreseeable, it will generally not be reasonably practicable to control it.

Reasonably practicable, in relation to health and safety, refers to what is reasonably able to be done when ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing all the relevant matters, including:

  1. the likelihood of the hazard or risk occurring;
  2. the degree of harm that may result from the hazard or risk;
  3. what the person concerned knows or ought reasonably to know about:

(i) the hazard or risk; and

(ii) ways of eliminating or minimising the risk;

  1. the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and
  2. the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.


The decision to implement any risk control measures will depend on the gravity of the harm and the cost of the control.

Once a control has been implemented, you must monitor its effectiveness and reassess the risks of the task.


Top stories for Risk Management


Your questions answered: Where can we find simple information on required signage for chemicals?

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Q: We've just had an audit, and some of our chemical signs were not correct, where can I find simple information on signage?

By Portner Press on January 24th, 2019

Your questions answered: Where do we find safety information about working at heights?

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Q: Could you please recommend what material I should read about safety when working with scaffolding and at heights?

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Slapdash induction costs employer $270k

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A worker who sustained back injuries and subsequently suffered depression after incorrectly handling 55kg tyres has won almost $270,000 in damages.

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Your questions answered: What safety procedure do we need in place for out-of-hours use of our swimming pool?

Workplace Safety

Q: ...Since employees may be on their own when they visit the pool, what do we need to do to fulfil our duty of care to them? Is supervision required?

By Portner Press on January 8th, 2019

Enough is enough: Regulators call time on slack contractors

Workplace Safety

Falls from height continue to dominate the news with a plumbing business in NSW being the latest to receive a significant fine after a worker fatally fell more than eight metres through a warehouse roof.

By Michael Selinger on December 20th, 2018

Your questions answered: When do we have to report about asbestos in the workplace to regulators?

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Your questions answered: When is fall protection for penetrations required?

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Q: Could you please provide some guidance on the maximum size that a penetration can be before fall protection is required? We are located in Victoria.

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Your questions answered: What information do we need to keep for non-hazardous substances?

Risk Management

  Q If we have determined that a material is not classified as hazardous and not classified as dangerous goods, are we required to maintain current (within 5 years) Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) on hand?   A A person conducting a business […]

By Portner Press on December 14th, 2018

Your questions answered: Playing badminton after work hours

Workplace Safety

Q: Some of our workers want to play badminton after hours in our mezzanine area, which has a concrete floor. Would our business be liable for any injuries that may occur?

By Portner Press on December 11th, 2018

Simple safety checks save injuries

Risk Management

Most workplace injuries are preventable. If you implement simple, easy-to-use and understandable processes, you can significantly reduce workplace risk.

By Portner Press on December 7th, 2018