Small business

Inspecting the Workplace

Inspections are one of the first steps in the risk assessment process, where you look for hazards or anything with the potential to harm someone.

The work environment

You should regularly check out your work environment and look at:

  • the tasks your workers do
  • the machinery or chemicals they use
  • electricity, lighting, ventilation and security
  • non-physical hazards such as bullying and workplace stresses

We have checklists to help you do this. You can find those in the resources section below. And make sure you talk with your workers who use the equipment, perform the tasks or are in the work environment every day and consult with them. 


There are many resources available to help you educate yourself and train your staff. For example:

  • Read operating manuals, safety alerts, safety data sheets, and information from your industry association or supplier/manufacturer
  • Read the relevant codes of practice
  • Review any reported hazards, incidents, near misses or injuries.

You can also review sick leave, staff turnover and workers compensation records for further insights. And review past incidents or near misses: these can highlight problem areas, and help you avert future incidents.

Risk assessment

You must do a risk assessment for certain high risk activities (for example, entry into confined spaces and some tasks performed on construction sites).

You should do a risk assessment when there are any changes in your workplace, such as:

  • starting or purchasing a business
  • changing work practices, procedures or the work environment
  • purchasing equipment (new or used)
  • using new dangerous substances
  • planning to improve productivity or reduce costs. 

Identified hazards

After identifying the hazards you need to assess the risk, control the risk and review the controls.

Assess the risk

Risk – a likelihood that a harmful consequence (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard.

For each hazard identified, ask the following questions.

  • What would the consequences be if something goes wrong? Could it result in death, serious injury, hospitalisation or on-site first aid?
  • Does the timing and/or duration of the task impact on the likelihood of harm or injury? For example if the task is only performed occasionally, is it more or less likely to be a risk?
  • How close and how often are people likely to be to near the hazard and therefore exposed to it?
  • Has the hazard resulted in accidents or injury before, and if so, how often?

Control the risk

The first aim is to remove all health and safety risks where possible and if not, control them. You will find resources below to help you with this.

Review the controls

Monitor the controls to make sure they're doing the job effectively.

Check that the controls are

  • managing the risks
  • not introducing new problems
  • making the job and workplace safer

Continue to

  • consult with workers and get feedback on any changes
  • check controls when new safety updates occur
  • review reported hazards, incidents, near misses, injuries
  • check sick leave, staff turnover and workers compensation records

Inducting new workers

Show your new worker around your workplace and introduce them to their workmates. You should formally sit down with your new worker and tell them about

  • your safety policy and safe work procedures
  • how they can report hazards, incidents, near misses and injuries
  • who their health and safety representative, first aider and fire warden are.

Induction checklist 

If you've never used an induction checklist before, it's worthwhile doing one with each of your existing workers (no matter how long they've been with you). Don't assume they're aware of what's required with health and safety.

Keep copies of the completed induction checklists, and provide your workers with a copy too.

Sample induction checklist

Help your workers understand safety

Remember your new workers (especially if they're young) may be nervous, or keen to impress, so they may not ask you questions.

Encourage them to talk if they are unsure about anything. They can talk to

  • you
  • their supervisor
  • health and safety representative

If English is not their first language you may need to get a translator to help.

Remember your new workers will need closer supervision (including buddying) for some time, too.

Other resources

Better Work Tasmania program

Creating policies

Writing a health and safety policy puts your commitment on paper and shows everyone you take work health and safety seriously.

Even if you run a small business with only a handful of workers, you can't afford to assume that everyone is aware of what's required with health and safety.

Policy requirements

Your policy should state:

  • the responsibilities of everyone
  • set the rules and standards you expect everyone to follow.

This reinforces the message that while you have a responsibility for safety, everyone else is responsible too.

Involve your workers as you develop your policy so it becomes a shared commitment to health and safety.

Displaying your policies

Sign it and display it prominently.

Tell everyone about it so they know what they should expect and what is expected of them:

  • go through it at a staff or toolbox meeting
  • include it in inductions for new workers and contractors.

Be mindful that people have varying levels of literacy, education and/or understanding; or they may speak a different language.

Remember to review your policy regularly (say, once a year) to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

Licence and permit requirements

You must be licensed to be a

  • plumber
  • electrician
  • gasfitter
  • building practitioner

Contractors need licences as well. Licensing and Accreditation information.

You must also be licensed to:

  • import/export explosives and use, store, handle security-sensitive dangerous substancedo shot-firing
  • let off fireworks
  • transport dangerous goods
  • remove or assess asbestos
  • perform high risk work (such as operating a forklift or EWP or crane)
  • work in the construction industry
  • store and handle hazardous chemicals
  • grow poppies

Licensing information

Consulting with workers

Consultation involves sharing information, giving workers a reasonable opportunity to express their views, and taking those views into account before making decisions. It allows you to really get to know your workplace, workers and the hazards they face.


You must consult on safety matters with

  • workers,
  • workers' health and safety representatives, and
  • anyone else you engage to carry out work for you.

This includes your

  • contractors and sub-contractors and their workers,
  • labour hire workers,
  • volunteers and
  • anyone else working for you and who is directly affected by any health and safety matter.

You should also consult with union representatives.

When to consult

You must consult with your workers when:

  • identifying hazards and assessing risks to health or safety arising from the work you carry out (or is about to be carried out)
  • making decisions about ways to remove or reduce those risks
  • making decisions about the adequacy of workers' facilities
  • proposing changes that may affect the health or safety of workers
  • making decisions about the procedures for consulting with workers, resolving safety issues in your workplace, monitoring the health of workers, monitoring the conditions at any workplace under the management or control of the PCBU, and/or providing information and training for workers.

You can also involve your workers as you:

  • develop or review your policies and procedures for work health and safety, safe work, and incident reporting
  • use safety checklists

Other ways to encourage talking about safety include:

  • hold regular staff/toolbox meetings and make health and safety a topic to discuss (if you engage contractors, include them in this process and seek their feedback too)
  • hold practical training sessions
  • encourage your workers to hold elections for health and safety representatives
  • establish a health and safety committee.


Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination Code of Practice

Ask us about safety


Our Helpline inspectors are your first point of contact when you call WorkSafe Tasmania. They can answer your questions about safety, or refer you to an advisor or an inspector.

  • Call 1300 366 322 1300 366 322 (within Tasmania) or
  • (03) 6166 4600 (outside Tasmania)

Safety advisors

WorkSafe's Work Health and Safety Advisors can help you make your workplace safer by:

  • providing you with practical tools — checklists, worksheets and sample safe work procedures — to help you identify hazards in your workplace
  • helping you implement solutions that are relevant, practical and affordable
  • checking that the safety plans and policies you have in place are on track.

Our Advisors are here to help small to medium sized business (up to 200 workers). Their services are free and confidential, and carry no threat of enforcement or fines.

Request a free visit from an advisor

Better Work Tasmania

Better Work Tasmania is a new approach to improving safety by helping workplaces collaborate, share their safety solutions and drive improvements themselves.

By becoming a Better Work Tasmania member and joining a networking or mentoring group, you'll have access to local experiences and solutions. Meet and talk to other businesses — they might know the solution to your safety issues.

Better Work Tasmania website

Wellbeing Advisors

WorkSafe's Work Health and Wellbeing Advisors can help you improve the health and wellbeing of your staff by:

  • helping you develop a health and wellbeing program that suits your workplace
  • identifying the activities and health topics your workers will value
  • monitoring and reviewing your health and wellbeing program outcomes
  • making links with community health organisations, providers and services.

Request a free visit from an advisor


Your union may be able to provide safety information and support.

A good starting point: Unions Tasmania

Employers association

Your employer association or local chamber of commerce may be able to provide safety information and support.

A good starting point: Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry


Help with codes of practice

When you're ready to tackle specific hazards, work tasks or equipment in your workplace, check out the codes of practice that apply to you. They are practical, user friendly guides to help you manage safety issues, and often contain easy to use checklists and practical examples.

There are also plenty of codes for everybody, no matter what your business: first aid, noise, consultation, and work environment/facilities.

Help with safety management

WorkSafe Tasmania has advisors and inspectors who can help you. Contact us for more advice.

You also need

Make sure you have your workers compensation organised.

Downloads and links

Safety Management Toolkit (PDF, 2.5 MB)

Request a visit from a WorkSafe Safety Advisor

Sample safe work procedures

Workplace Issues Magazine

Codes of practice

Safety publications

Contact WorkSafe

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