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What is a workplace health and safety programme?

A workplace health & safety policy outlines the objectives and scope of your workplace health and safety programme.
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An effective workplace health & safety programme should address the general requirements specified by workplace health & safety legislation as well as the specific risks associated with your business.

For example, all fitness businesses should have procedures in place to address the following general workplace health and safety requirements:

Workplace Health and Safety Policy

A workplace health & safety policy outlines the objectives and scope of your workplace health and safety programme and demonstrates management’s commitment to providing a safe workplace.

Workplace Health and Safety Responsibilities

Specific health and safety responsibilities and accountabilities should be provided for key positions within your business including contractors where applicable:

Training and Competency

A procedure is required that identifies the formal qualifications required for staff working for you as well as any additional health & safety training needs. The procedure should also cover the induction provided to new staff to ensure that they are aware of all relevant safety procedures. Appropriate records should be kept of any required qualifications or training provided.

WH&S Consultation and Communication

All businesses require a documented process, agreed to by employees, to enable employee involvement and consultation on health & safety matters.

Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control

A procedure needs to be in place to identify potential health and safety hazards, (including public safety hazards), assess the potential risks and develop control measures. This includes procedures for workplace inspections and hazard reporting.


If contractors are used in your business, the health & safety responsibilities of the contractors should be clearly defined and communicated to the contractors.

Equipment Safety

A procedure is required that outlines how you will ensure that equipment is safe to use. This includes procedures for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing equipment as well as ensuring that clients are aware of the correct use of equipment. Safety considerations when purchasing new equipment should also be included.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

All potential emergency situations should be identified and emergency procedures developed to address these situations including training, first aid and equipment requirements.

Injury Management

A procedure should exist that outlines the notification and claims management requirements for workplace injuries. This may involve different protocols for injuries sustained by staff and clients.

Specific Risk Prevention Measures

In addition to the above requirements, all fitness businesses should implement measures to minimise specific workplace health and safety risks.

Success Factors for Workplace Health and Safety Programmes

While the above components provide the basic framework for a workplace health & safety programmes that is compliant with legal requirements, it is important to recognise that implementing these components alone does not guarantee an effective workplace health & safety programme.

Related research has identified a number of success factors that are critical to the effective implementation of an workplace health and safety program. These include:

Visible Commitment from Management

Successful workplace health and safety programmes require a “top down” approach that demonstrates the business owner’s commitment to the programme. This is seen through the owner’s visible support of the programme, on-going monitoring of programme activities, regular follow-up of safety issues, etc. Workplace health and safety responsibilities should be reflective of line management structure in order to develop and maintain clear reporting pathways.

Clear, Standardised Approach

Successful programs ensure that there are clear and documented procedures that are applied in a consistent manner across the business.

Workplace Health & Safety Integrated into the Business

Rather than being seen as an “add-on” responsibility, successful workplace health and safety programmes integrate safety into the normal operations of the business. Obtain clear verbal and written agreement from all staff that they understand their workplace health and safety responsibilities (including workplace health and safety policies and procedures) – this will assist towards creating a “safety culture” among all levels of staff. This is usually achieved during onboarding new staff.

Clear Objectives

Setting clear programme objectives and performance targets enables effective planning strategies and monitoring efforts.

Injury Avoidance Focus

Programmes that focus on the avoidance of injuries as their goal instead of only legal compliance produce more successful outcomes.

Preventive not Reactive Approaches

Rather than just responding to reported hazards or incidents, effective programmes take a proactive approach by identifying potential risks and ensuring that appropriate control measures are in place to minimise the likelihood of an incident occurring.

Regular Programme Monitoring

Since workplace health and safety programmes are dynamic in nature, ongoing monitoring is required to identify opportunities for improvement and to address any changes in the business activities, and legislative changes.

Adequate Resources

Workplace health and safety programmes must be adequately resourced to ensure success. This includes identifying all types of resources including time, financial expenses and expertise required during all programme phases.

Source: Adopted from Fitness Australia, 2021.

© CQUniversity 2021, Fitness Australia, 2021.
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Personal Trainer's Toolkit: Workplace Health and Safety in a Fitness Setting

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