What is the big fuss? How can we fulfil this Code of Practice?
The recent released of Code of Practice on Chief Executives' and Board of Directors' WSH Duties created a “commotion” in the market and industries. Especially when the Minister mentioned in the Parliament (on 19 Sept 2022) that "in the event of a WSH Act offence, the courts can consider compliance to this approved COP in their judgment. Adhering to the approved COP’s principles can be a mitigating factor.".
Is this something new? Not really…
The legal duties of stakeholders were already defined and stipulated in Workplace Safety & Health Acts (WSHA) in 2007. Stakeholders referring in the WSHA are:
Occupier (Section 11)
Employers (Section 12)
Self-Employed Persons (Section 13)
Principals (Section 14 & 14A)
Persons at Work (Section 15)
Manufacturers and Suppliers of Machinery, Equipment Or Hazardous (Section 16)
Persons Who Erect, Install or Modify Machinery or Equipment and Persons In Control Of Machinery for Use At Work (Section 17)
Under Section 48 – “Offences by bodies corporate”, it also stipulated that “officer” of a body corporate or “officer” of an unincorporated association shall be guilty of an offence unless he/she could prove that the offence was committed without his/her consent AND he/she had exercised all such diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.
It is important to know that “officer” of a body corporate could be director, partner, member of the committee of management, chief executive, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate and includes any person purporting to act in any such capacity; and “officer” of an unincorporated association could be the president, the secretary, or any member of the committee of the unincorporated association, or any person holding a position analogous to that of the president, secretary or member of the committee and includes any person purporting to act in any such capacity.
Pertaining to the Code of Practice on Chief Executives' and Board of Directors' WSH Duties, this code of practice could be generally related to Occupier, Employers, Self-Employed Persons and “Officer”. So, how can these appointment holders demonstrate that they are fulfilling this code of practice?
The beauty of this code of practice is that it has provided some kind of framework that guide the organisations on how to demonstrate the due diligence. The framework is based on 4 Principles and 17 Measures which, in a way, elaborated the legal duties and “translated” them into performable and measurable actions.
Safety and Health Management System
Safety and Health Management System is commonly established and implemented in workplaces. When properly written and implemented, it will enable the workplace to systematically manage and implement safety measures to prevent accident and drive improvement. Safety and Health Management System could be established basing on different standards depending on the needs of organisation or to meet regulatory requirement.
The following shows examples of standards commonly adopted by workplaces:
Generally, a well written Safety and Health Management System should fulfil most of the 17 Measures mentioned in the Code of Practice on Chief Executives' and Board of Directors' WSH Duties.
However, as some of the Measures could be peculiar, we will need to know what are the specific requirement to be integrated into the Safety and Health Management System.
For illustration purposes, we will use ISO 45001 as the Safety and Health Management System to show how we can enhance it to meet the requirement mentioned in the Code of Practice on Chief Executives' and Board of Directors' WSH Duties.
Principal 1 (Measure 1 & 2)
Principal 2 (Measure 3 to 9)
Principal 3 (Measure 10 to 13)
Principal 4 (Measure 14 to 17)
Strive for Improvement
As you can see, most of the Measures are nothing new. We just need to make use of existing Safety and Health Management System to facilitate the implementation of these Measures.
We hope this article provide some insights to organisations that enable them to improve their ability to meet the legal obligations. Ultimately, we hope to see that this Code of Practice could be effectively adopted by industries (not just a paper play), thus help to improve the WSH Culture and Injury Rate in the workplace.