Australia's work health and safety (WHS) laws require businesses and undertakings to manage risks. This article presents the findings of qualitative research investigating risk management in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in two states, through interviews, documentation review and observation in workplaces. The research found that most SMEs identified only some or few of the hazards for their operations and did not consciously apply the hierarchy of risk controls, at best implementing some higher level controls among a range of lower level ones. Poorer performance for hazard identification and risk control was linked with weaknesses in risk management methods, and SMEs applied their own criteria to determine control measures rather than the reasonably practicable standard, which was poorly understood. These findings were more pronounced in small enterprises than with medium enterprises. The research raises questions for WHS policy makers and practitioners about the translation of core legal principles, practices and concepts processes into workplace practice, particularly in smaller enterprises.
|Journal||Journal of Health, Safety and Environment|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|