After recently revealing that their focused inspection program into the restaurant and cafe sector revealed serious areas of concern, Worksafe WA have announced they will continue to target this sector in the 2016/2017 financial year.

In the past two financial years, Worksafe have conducted visitations at 225 restaurants, cafes and clubs in the regional and metropolitan area and issued 1364 improvement notices and 9 prohibition notices. This averages out to an astonishing 6 notices per business. The bulk of the improvement notices were issued for:

  • incorrect handling of hazardous substances;
  • failure to have appropriate emergency precautions;
  • insufficient or non-existent training, training records and control measures;
  • slip, trip and fall risks; and
  • electrical safety issues.

The 2 year focused investigation program came after Worksafe determined that in a 5 year period, the sector had over 1000 lost time injuries, including 190 severe injuries which required the employee to take more than 60 days off work. Clearly, safety and health issues loom large in the industry.

Worksafe’s announcement that it would continue to target safety issues in this sector is recognition of the high amount of non-compliance and safety issues. Its intention is to provide employers with information on how to make their workplaces safer and, as a consequence, reduce work-related injury and illness. With this in mind, it has released a sector specific newsletter to assist businesses in identifying the most common OSH risks in the industry and appropriate steps to manage these risks. A copy of the newsletter can be found here.

Breaches of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (OSH Act) come with serious penalties of up to $625,000 for a corporation and $312,500 for an individual. Additionally, individuals such as directors and managers can be held personally liable for breaches of the OSH Act and terms of imprisonment of up to 2 years can be applied in addition to a fine. Separate to these consequences, safety incidents also have the greater costs for business in terms of lost time, increased workers compensations premiums, legal costs and damage to reputation.

It may only be a matter of time before Worksafe come knocking, will your business be ready?