HLTWHS002: Identify Existing and Potential Hazards in the Workplace, Report Them to Designated Persons, and Record Them According to Workplace Procedures:Follow Safe Work Practices for Direct Client Care, Homework, Australia

University Victoria University [VU]
Subject HLTWHS002: Follow Safe Work Practices for Direct Client Care

1. Follow safe work practices for direct client care

1.1. Follow workplace policies and procedures for safe work practices

1.2. Identify existing and potential hazards in the workplace, report them to designated persons, and record them according to workplace procedures

1.3. Identify any client-related risk factors or behaviours of concern, report them to designated persons, and record them according to workplace procedures

1.4. Follow workplace policies and procedures to minimise risk

1.5. Identify and report incidents and injuries to designated persons according to workplace procedures

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1.1 – Follow workplace policies and procedures for safe work practices

By the end of this chapter, the learner should:

Identify how to follow workplace policies and procedures.

It is quite likely that your organisation will have developed numerous policies and procedures for the purpose of ensuring safety.

The policies may pertain to the entire organisation or to the work carried out within specific departments. They should highlight the primary objectives and legal responsibilities of your organisation.

There should be clear regarding the work of specific employees and the standards that should be maintained.

Your organisational policies should clarify:

  • Objectives for the achievement of health and safety standards
  •  Details of the steps that should be taken to meet health and safety aims
  • Schedules for the completion of health and safety objectives
  • Details of how the policies should be reviewed
  • The specific responsibilities of managers and other staff members.

Health and safety procedures

The health and safety procedures will take the form of a sequence of

steps that should be taken to meet health and safety objectives. They should be written in a clear and logical manner, for the understanding of all employees. You may have organisational procedures for:

  • Dealing with aggressive and potentially dangerous behaviour
  • Organising evacuations
  • Inspecting and monitoring the workplace
  • Training and reviewing the knowledge of employees.

It should be emphasised that all employees have some responsibility for ensuring health and safety in the workplace. The types of responsibilities are likely to vary in accordance with the work carried out by your organisation.

It may be necessary to follow procedures and policies on how to deal with intoxicated customers, store hazardous chemicals, or use industrial equipment.

Legal responsibilities

Your health and safety policies and procedures should be written in accordance with legislation pertaining to your line of work and Australian territory. Thorough research should be undertaken, to ensure that you are fully aware of the relevant laws and practices. You must comply with the work health and safety acts of Australia.

The aim of your policies and procedures should be to eliminate or minimise the potential impact of hazards in the workplace. Safe work practices may include the substitution of chemicals with less harmful alternatives and the isolation of areas where employees are at considerable risk. Employees are expected to report dangerous working practices within 24 hours of identification.

Work health and safety (WHS)

Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) legislation replaced Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation in 2011.

WHS legislation stipulates that employers must provide their staff with:

  • Safe premises
  • Safe machinery and materials
  • Safe systems of work
  • Information, instruction, training and supervision
  • A suitable working environment and facilities.

Employees are also obliged to ensure that they work safely and do not endanger the safety of their colleagues, clients and others.

How WHS affects your work in health will vary according to your job role and your industry. In order to work safely and legally in your role, you should have been trained to do so by your organisation, as this is a legal requirement.

Where you identify possible or actual WHS breaches in your planned responses, they will need to be reviewed and amended to be compliant immediately before they are used again.

Infection control

When you have identified infection risks, you must respond to them according to infection control policies that are based and State legislation, National Standards and local regulations. The idea of this is that it provides a safe environment for staff, clients and any visitors.

You should read the following Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare at This details a lot of policies and procedures that are in place in healthcare settings.

Home-based environment

As part of your role, you might be expected to carry out duties of care within the clients’ home. In this case, you will need to be aware of the rights and responsibilities of both yourself and your client, to ensure that you are able to provide competent care in the best way.

Your responsibilities

Generally speaking, your responsibilities in a home-based environment are the same as they are in the workplace. You will be expected to take care for the client’s physical and emotional safety, treating them with respect throughout your working practices. You will also be expected to take reasonable care for your own safety, as well as that of anyone else in the environment, such as family members.

It is a good idea to make yourself aware of some of the potential problems of working in a home environment Problems might include:

  • Working in isolation without assistance for team handling
  • The home is not designed for health or personal care (for example low bed heights)
  • Working in restricted workspaces such as small bathrooms
  • The home is laid out to suit the client’s preferences
  • A change in the client’s physical and mental condition between visits
  • Workers from other agencies also providing assistance for the client.

Being aware of the potential problems will allow you to implement methods that can help to prevent such problems from escalating. For example, on entry to a client’s home, you should scan the area for any obstacles which will prevent you from carrying out your work, and eliminate these (within the client’s permission). Remember that the environment may change regularly (furniture moves, etc.), so this might need to be done on each entry.

The rights of clients

Ensuring and protecting the rights of your clients should be central to your work. You will need to work within the boundaries of these rights, making sure that clients are respected throughout all your working practices.

You will need to make yourself aware of the specific rights of the client in a home-based environment according to your workplace and the governing legislation.

For example, HomeCare Australia outlines the following rights of a client:

  • The client has a right to be looked after properly
  • The client has a right to be treated well and given high-quality care and services
  • The client has a right to receive the best care that home care services provide
  • The client has a right to be treated with respect
  • The client has a right to be involved in deciding what care will meet their needs
  • The client should have a written agreement covering everything that a
  • client and the service provider have agreed to
  •  The client has a right to have your care and services reviewed
  • The client has a right to privacy and confidentiality of your
    personal information

1.2 – Identify existing and potential hazards in the workplace, report them to designated persons, and record them according to workplace procedures By the end of this chapter, the learner should:

  • Identify existing and potential hazards
  • Identify how to respond and record hazards.

Identifying hazards and risks

Health and safety hazards may be apparent in numerous areas of the work environment. There will be different levels of risk associated with each of these hazards. Workers will face a danger of slipping over and injuring themselves if damp areas aren’t clearly signposted. Infection may occur as a consequence of failing to store harmful chemicals in the appropriate manner. It is essential to identify such hazards and take preventative steps for the safety of the workforce.

You are advised to carry out regular inspections and identify signs of danger. You should consider what would happen if employees were exposed to specific hazards in the workplace. Information regarding risks may be found in the manufacturer’s instructions specific to certain chemicals and machinery.

You are also encouraged to review the accident records and find out what types of hazards have already been encountered in your working environment. Some hazards and long-term risks may not be immediately obvious. However, research can be undertaken, and employees asked for details of any concerns.

You may arrange the following consultations:

  • Toolbox talks
  • Production meetings
  • Team meetings
  • Regular informal discussions.

Sources of personal risk include:

  • Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Behaviours of concern
  • Personal risks may arise from clients, clients’ families, the public, or animals
  • There are risks associated with access to work (car parking would be an example),

access to private homes, and the performance of work

  • Incident reports may be used to identify situations with a higher risk of threat and client related. They may include information regarding care plans and case management meetings
  • Working new, isolated, and / or potentially unstable environments.
    Furthermore, workplace hazards that may be present in care homes, private homes and other locations may include:
  • Biological hazards, including body fluids, contaminated food, soiled clothing and linen, clinical waste, syringes, and other ‘sharps’
  • Chemicals, such as toxic or hazardous substances, gases and liquids under pressure, and certain cleaning chemicals
  • Electrical hazards related to using of equipment and faulty wiring
  • Equipment including suitability for purpose and fitness for use
  • The personal threat, such as through behaviours of concern of clients and/or visitors
  • Work organisation issues such as shift work or irregular hours / on-call
  • Work-related environment, such as underfoot, lighting, space, noise, air quality, furniture/fittings, and car parking
  • Work-related stress
  • There are many ways an issue or threat can arise. You are advised to prepare for the widest range of hazards and risks. You should understand how they happen and the best means of response.

The above examples can be categorised into different types of risk:

  • Environmental: These are caused by threats in the physical environment, such as trip hazards, fire hazards, contamination and other accidents. Potential hazards should be identified and minimised whenever possible. You should remove trip hazards and deal with fire hazards. Procedures will be established for dealing with contamination risks and biological hazards
  • Client-based: this can range from clients becoming violent, or threats that may be made by someone in your care. There may be an infection risk, or injury sustained while moving/helping a client. Your organisation should prepare you by providing training on the correct movement of weights and avoidance of infection
  • Staff-based: this can range from other staff being violent, unfit for work, or negligent. Staff should be monitored and trained in preparation for such events. There should be established procedures for dealing with staff-related problems
  • People-based: this involves other people and can range from clients’ families to the general public. This can cause numerous risks, from infection to a person’s dog being out of control. You should remain vigilant and ready to react to anything that may happen. Procedures will be put in place for dealing with certain events.

Your workplace should provide a certain level of training regarding hazard identification and procedures to follow. Not everything will be covered, of course, as hazards can emerge from anywhere at any time; in these instances, all you can do is make the best decision possible, based on your training for dealing with other, perhaps similar incidents.

Reporting hazards

This unit has focussed on identifying hazards. However, the next step is to report such issues to relevant staff members. You may contact an:

  • Elected Health and Safety Representative/employee representative
  • Employer
  • Health and Safety committee
  • Other personnel with WHS responsibilities
  • Supervisor.

The individual(s) responsible for managing WHS should be clearly identified within your workplace. There should be a designated process for you to follow when reporting such issues.

1.3  Identify any client-related risk factors or behaviours of concern, report them to designated persons, and record them according to workplace procedures

By the end of this chapter, the learner should:

➢ Complete a table, identifying client-related risk factors/behaviours of concern.

The likelihood of encountering client-related risk factors and behaviours of concern will vary, depending on the nature of your working environment. Those of you working in the healthcare, social services, banking and retail sectors will be at a relatively high risk of encountering aggressive and unpredictable customers.

You may also have to account for considerable risks when working with heavy industrial machinery. Your customers may become angry for a variety of reasons and vent their frustrations in different ways.

The most common types of abusive behaviour include verbal insults, physical demonstrations of anger, and actual bodily harm. Managers and human resources personnel have a responsibility for assessing the risk of challenging behaviour and developing appropriate risk minimisation strategies.

These factors should be taken into consideration:

  • The times at which there is a significant risk of challenging behaviour
  • The environments in which employees and customers are at the greatest risk
  • The arrangement and allocation of resources to help employees deal with aggressive behaviour
  •  Opportunities for training staff in the different ways of minimising risk and overcoming challenging behaviour.

Your employees should have the skills and knowledge required to identify various types of risks and defuse serious situations in the workplace. They should know how to:

  •  Identify signs of behavioural change and aggression
  • Monitor and deal with various challenging scenarios in the workplace
  • Negotiate and establish reasonable limits in response to concerning behaviours
  • Decide which actions to take as a consequence of challenging behaviour

Minimising and avoiding risk

Minimising and avoiding risk requires the attention and vigilance of everyone involved. Many accidents and incidents occur as a result of inattention, laziness, or ignorance. Steps may be taken for complete avoidance and necessary response by the organisation.

Minimisation or avoidance procedures and techniques may be specified by the organisation. Alternatively, they may be employed by suitably knowledgeable individuals.

Organisational procedures may apply to workplace issues, such as:

  • The door to room 4A swings shut very fast, so be careful not to get hit by it
  • The stairs to the first floor are very steep, so use the elevator to transport items
  • You must wear shoes in the hallway, as the tiles can be slippery if you’re only wearing socks.

General WHS guidance can also be applied:

  • If you find a leak, then cordon the area off and arrange for repairs
  • Sharps and syringes must only be handled by qualified staff. They must not be deposited in a sharps box
  • Do not exceed the maximum occupancy of the elevator.
  • Such precautions should occur naturally to your staff members. They shouldn’t need to be told specifically how to act.

Organisational procedures for managing risks include:

  • Client assessment documents and care plans
  • Communication, consultation, and issue resolution procedures
  • Hazard management documents (including policies and procedures on specific hazards)
  • Hazard and incident reporting (including follow up to sharps incidents) and investigation. Workplace inspections, maintenance etc.

1.4 – Follow workplace policies and procedures to minimise risk

By the end of this chapter, the learner should:

  • Identify how to follow workplace policies and procedures to minimise risk using the information provided.

Health and safety policies

Health and safety policies may be created specifically to your entire organisation, and the work carried out within separate departments. You should include details of how to manage the different working environments for optimum safety. There should also be details of the responsibilities designated to different members of the workforce. The arrangements section should highlight the activities and functions that must be carried out for the well-being of all employees.

1.5 – Identify and report incidents and injuries to designated persons according to workplace procedures By the end of this chapter, the learner should:

  • Complete an incident form using the information provided.

The causes of incidents and injuries fall into three categories. Immediate causes are usually quite obvious and may include contact with sharps and harmful substances. Underlying causes may include irresponsible behaviour and unsafe working conditions.

There may also be root causes that lead to potentially serious scenarios. Such causes should be identified at the earliest opportunity so that negative events have the least possible impact on your organisation. You should carry out thorough research and evaluate different areas of the workplace for signs of risk.

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