Good OH&S practices

Disaster plan

There should be plans in place to deal with any emergency. The nature of the emergency can vary from fire and chemical spills, and all the obvious hazards that these present, to power and water failures that can lead to unsafe working conditions.

Training and providing relevant information

Awareness of the problems and a positive approach to prevention is the keystone to good OH&S practices. Many accidents and injuries can be avoided by providing staff with appropriate training. Often this training has to be designed with an archives’ unique circumstances in mind. Up to date information regarding safe work practices, equipment safety and chemical information should be readily available in the workplace. Much of this information is available as posters and charts. The benefits of this can be seen in staff morale, productivity and the quality of work. Other benefits can be seen in terms of reduced insurance premiums, compensation and rehabilitation claims.

Work and storage areas

With the safety of archival material in mind, work and storage areas should be designed, constructed, and equipped to ensure that there is minimum risk to archive material or staff.

Work and storage areas must be kept free of food and drink, harmful contaminants, pollutants or vermin and harmful radiation.

Exits, passageways, stairs and equipment access areas should be kept clear of obstructions; including stored materials or materials and equipment in use. Obstructions can be a potential hazard.

Near miss and hazardous incidents and accident investigation

Near misses and hazardous incidents are those in which no one gets hurt and where no material, or equipment is damaged, but have the potential to cause damage or harm. Steps should be taken to eliminate causes as soon as possible, and while rectifying the initial problem ensure that is does not create a danger to anyone else. Regular safety inspections of a workplace can help to ensure that wherever possible accidents are prevented from occurring. It is very useful to develop a safety check list that is appropriate to the work place.

Supervisors should be trained to understand and recognise the occupational health and safety risks and needs in the area they are responsible for. This will enable them to fulfil their duty in regard to occupational health and safety.

Report of notifiable accidents, incidents and dangerous occurrences

  • Notifiable accidents – are work related accidents which result in serious injury
  • An incident – is any non-work related fatality which occurs on work premises
  • Dangerous occurrences – are occurrences which may not necessarily result in injury but which endanger the health and safety of an employee at a workplace, and arise from operations which are carried out in the workplace.

Records of reports and witness statements of notifiable accidents, incidents and dangerous occurrences will need to be preserved in the event of future claims or litigation. These are also valuable in identifying hazards and improvements that may still be needed to prevent further accidents.

First aid

First aid officers are responsible for taking positive action to prevent further injury to staff, to render first aid treatment in accordance with their approved training, and to keep a record of treatment provided. A first aid officer engaged in attending to a patient should remain with the patient until no further treatment or assistance is required or until the patient is handed over to ambulance or to other medical personnel.

First aid officers are also responsible for ensuring that the first aid box in their workplace is kept fully stocked and accessible, and for ensuring that the rest room or first aid room is kept in good condition.