How franchises manage health and safety
Occupational Health and Safety laws will undergo the biggest overhaul in a generation with the introduction of nationally harmonised legislation. Here we look at what it involves, and how two very different franchise systems approach the very real issue of managing health and safety.
The new model Work Health and Safety Acts (WHS) came into effect on 1 January (with the exception of Victoria and Western Australian who are likely to defer implementation until later in 2012), writes Patricia Ryan, the practice manager of EI Legal and a solicitor with more than 30 years' experience in both private practice and in-house roles.
It is crucial that potential business owners recognise the changes and start preparing for these now.
Essentially, the changes will mean that each of the current state and territory Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) laws will be replaced by national laws based on a model Work Health and Safety Act (WHS). Currently, there are eight jurisdictions with eight different sets of laws, so the most obvious advantage to this is the consistency of laws across most of Australia and a more streamlined approach to the way OHS is regulated.
Key facts about the new model WHS:
- There are new roles and responsibilities for employers
- There will be new wording and definition changes implemented under the new WHS. Worker replaces the term employee and PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking). A franchisor will be a PCBU in respect to its business while each franchisee will be a PCBU with respect to its own business
- There are critical changes under the new act in regards to consultation
- Changes to union rights of entry
- There is protection from discrimination, coercion and misrepresentation under the new WHS
- New penalties for breaches of the WHS
New roles and responsibilities for health and safety representatives under the new WHS.
What do you need to do?
What is "reasonably practicable" in terms of consultation will be relevant to your situation but the Act applies equally to businesses of all sizes. That means not only does the franchisor have to undertake the following, but so does each franchisee – for their own business:
- Review organisational structure to determine responsibility for WHS
- Review current policies, procedures and consultation processes to ensure that not only are they compliant, but that terminology used is consistent with the new act
- Identify the stakeholders within the network. For example, workers (franchisees will not be a "worker" of a franchisor), senior management orofficers and those responsible for the implementation of safety initiatives
- Ensure directors and senior managers (officers) have sufficient oversight over safety matters
- Review contracts with relevant third parties such as suppliers of plant equipment or labour to address and to clarify respective obligations
- Review consultation arrangements to determine correct communication with all required parties, again coming back to the expanded definition of duty holders and workers; establish whether you need to elect health and safety representatives for identified work groups, or if existing alternative arrangements are practicable
- Review procedures to ensure protection against engaging in discriminatory conduct against a worker who raises a health and safety issue
Review the new regulations and codes of practice to determine what changes will need to be made to safety systems
Andrew Pajic, operation training and development manager
In a Bakers Delight franchise the main safety issues are exposure to oven heat and using utensils when hand crafting bread, so precautionary measures should always be taken.
Bakers Delight provides tools and has a structured assessment program in place that measures bakery compliance in line with company policies including Food Safety, OHS, bread quality, service and merchandising. This program is known as the Bakers Delight 5 Star program – assessments are conducted every four months to monitor trends and take action on any non-compliance.
New Bakers Delight franchisees undergo the 16 week Bakers Delight Franchise Training Program that includes on the job training on the operation of a bakery. This practical training also includes conducting OHS staff inductions, completion of workplace inspections and first aid stocktakes.
All employees complete an online induction program, Bakersville, that covers a broad range of OHS related precautionary measures.
Ongoing training online enables franchisees to monitor staff completion of modules. A Safety Bulletin is also distributed to franchisees and their staff.
Three times a year a 5 Star audit is completed at every Bakers Delight bakery and this includes a full audit of a bakery's compliance with the OHS program. An itemised report is provided at the end of the audit clearly outlining any areas that require attention by the franchisee. The report is also sent to the bakery's area manager.
Harmonisation is an opportunity to have predominately one set of OHS regulations across the country and will ultimately make compliance with OHS systems less time consuming and easier to understand. Bakers Delight is reviewing and updating procedures and processes to reflect the new codes of practices and regulations.
Appliance Tagging Services (ATS)
Sarah Allen, owner and business development manager
Operating within the safety industry, OHS is an important part of ATS's induction and ongoing franchisee training. One day of a two week induction training is spent on health and safety and the importance of managing this within the franchisee's business. With the implementation of national OHS legislation in January 2012, more recently we have been educating our franchisees on the changes to responsibilities.
One of the most important components of OHS training is ensuring that all franchisees are competent in complying with ATS's documented Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). Our practical training sessions revolve around how to work in accordance with SWMS that are provided to all clients before work begins.
We also train our franchisees on the difference between SWMS and a site specific Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and show them how to complete a JSA before starting a job to ensure the works are carried out safely. In light of the new definitions this is a vital component of managing our health and safety duty to our franchisees.
As a 'man and a van' operation; ATS franchisees work from home and from their vehicles. The franchisor has always requested franchisees test their home office electrical appliances, but a recent case has made this imperative. When a Telstra employee had an accident while working from home, her home was deemed to be a workplace – with all the ensuing responsibilities of OHS management. ATS has now included this into its Safe Work Method Statements and OHS manual.
Franchisees are trained on the use of the OHS manual, and are given a copy of the OHS policy. They also learn how to complete a comprehensive incident investigation form which is required in the event of any incident or electrical shock, regardless of the severity.