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What is your role in workplace health and safety?

Regardless of your industry or job, you have an important role to play in promoting health and safety
in your workplace. Organisations in Australia are required by law to provide a safe and healthy
workplace for their employees, customers, visitors and the wider community.
You must follow the workplace 0HS policies and procedures of your organisation. These are based
on legislation and regulations that support workplace health and safety. Broadly, you have a
responsibility to:

cooperate with 0 HS representatives


report any hazards to your supervisor
report any job-related injury or illness to your supervisor or health and safety representative
understand and exercise your rights under WHS
wear personal protective clothing and equipment if appropriate. You may not currently be
working directly with machinery (such as forklifts, assembly lines, engineering equipment) or
hazardous chemicals. However, it's quite possible that your job involves work associated
with unsafe environments.

Workplace risks and hazards


Workplace risk is defined as the chance of something occurring that will result in injury or damage.
Workplace hazards are those things in your workplace that pose a risk to you and/or your work
colleagues.
Office hazards are not always as obvious as those in production areas, but as an office worker, you
may be exposed to various safety problems.
Hazards that office workers could be exposed to include anything that is a source of:

potential harm in terms of human injury or ill health


damage to property
damage to the environment
a combination of these.

All workplaces are different, and because of this difference a hazard that might be present in one
workplace may not necessarily be present in another.
Some of the more general sources of potential harm in an office setting may include:

cramped working conditions


extreme temperatures
inefficient fire and emergency procedures
lifting heavy loads
overwork or interpersonal issues
poor lighting
poorly designed workstations.

In a medical setting, some of the sources of potential harm might be:

blood
breakage/ spillage
drug hold-ups
needle stick injuries

medical emergencies; for example, a fall, bleeding, a seizure, fainting, collapse,


panic attack or psychosis
spread of infection
potential sources of infection, such as:
breakages
contaminated waste
patients with colds, flu and other infectious diseases
sharps (such as needles and scalpel blades)
spillage
used dressings, bandages and equipment
unsterilized or poorly sterilised equipment and work surfaces
unwashed hands.

Your role in the workplace will involve actively participating in the various methods that your
organisation has developed to identify hazards and then eliminate or minimise the risk of harm they
pose.

Lesson task 2
The following job description is for a ward clerk in the accident and emergency department of a
hospital. Read through the job description and highlight any tasks or responsibilities that pose a
potential WHS hazard. Write a list that summarises each of the hazards that you have identified.
Position title: Ward clerk, accident and emergency Staff level: 2
Duty no. Details
I. Admissions and discharges
1.1 Processes admissions and discharges in the computerised patient management system.
1.2 Maintains ward information (including ward transfers, bed transfers, condition code updates) in
the computerised patient management system to ensure accuracy of the hospital bed census.
1.3 Updates inpatient list and distributes to relevant staff on a daily basis.
2. Medical records
2.1 Retrieves, compiles, creates and updates medical records.
2.2 Prints and prepares admission paperwork and labels.
2.3 Prepares all discharged medical records and returns to clinical coding in a timely manner.
2.4 Completes and files tracer cards as required.
2.5 Files all loose medical reports/notes, including laboratory reports.
2.6 Liaises with other health services to obtain patient information as required.
3. Administrative
3.1 Supports clinical team with administrative matters.
3.2 Completes photocopying as required.
3.3 Undertakes quality improvement activities as required.
3.4 Responds to correspondence as directed.

3.5 Collects data to support clinical governance activities.


4. Other
4.1 Liaises with relevant health service staff members.
4.2 Ensures maintenance of patient confidentiality at all times.
4.3 Attends team meetings as required.
4.4 Performs duties in accordance with relevant WHS and equal opportunity legislation.
4.5 Performs duties in accordance with specific policies and procedures.
4.6 Participates in a continuous process to monitor, evaluate and develop performance.
4.7 Performs other duties as directed.
You may also obtain a copy of your job description. You may have received a copy at your
employment interview or during your induction training. If you are not currently employed, you may
obtain a job description from the Internet for the type of job you would like to be employed in.
Which tasks in the job description may pose a higher risk of harm or injury? Why?