What Does Positive Due Diligence Look Like in Practice? Key Strategies for Proactive WHS Management


Have you ever wondered how some businesses consistently achieve stellar Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) results while others struggle? The answer often lies in their approach to due diligence. Specifically, they practice “positive due diligence,” which is the cornerstone of proactive WHS management.

Positive due diligence means actively identifying risks, implementing practical solutions, and fostering a culture where safety comes first.

In Western Australia, where WHS compliance is governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2020, positive due diligence involves more than just ticking boxes.

It’s about ensuring leaders are fully accountable, risks are effectively managed, and every worker is engaged and trained in safety best practices.

We’ll explore practical strategies that businesses in Perth and beyond can use to proactively manage WHS through positive due diligence.

Whether you’re a small business owner or an executive at a large corporation, these tips will help you build a safer, more proactive workplace. Let’s dive in!

What’s Positive Due Diligence

Positive due diligence means being proactive about Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) compliance rather than waiting for problems to arise. It’s about identifying risks early, finding practical solutions, and making safety a top priority at all times.

Think of it like this: Reactive due diligence is when a business only addresses WHS issues after they’ve occurred, like fixing a leaky tap only after the floor is flooded.

In contrast, proactive due diligence means checking the taps regularly to prevent leaks in the first place. This proactive mindset helps businesses anticipate problems, stay compliant, and create safer workplaces.

In Western Australia, the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 sets the standard for WHS compliance. It places a clear obligation on “officers” of a business, like company directors or senior managers, to exercise due diligence in ensuring the company meets its safety responsibilities.

Here’s what due diligence means under the law:

  • Understanding WHS risks: Knowing what risks exist in your business.
  • Allocating resources: Ensuring adequate resources are available for WHS.
  • Training and Supervision: Making sure everyone is trained and supervised properly.
  • Monitoring WHS performance: Regularly reviewing safety performance and compliance.

Depending on your organization and value chain, you might need to undertake different types of due diligence:

  • Vendor Due Diligence: Investigating current or potential risks with new or existing vendors.
  • Third-Party Due Diligence: Assessing the risk level of potential partners, including vendors in your partner’s ecosystem.
  • Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD): Taking a risk-based approach to evaluate specific clients or companies.
  • Technology Due Diligence: Auditing your IT infrastructure for potential risks, common in mergers and acquisitions.
  • Cyber Due Diligence: Assessing and mitigating network security risks, particularly with third-party vendors.
  • Supply Chain Due Diligence: Identifying environmental and human rights risks across your supply chain.
  • Financial Due Diligence: Analyzing financial performance before completing mergers or acquisitions.
  • Regulatory Due Diligence: Reviewing policies and processes to ensure compliance with relevant regulations.
  • ESG Due Diligence: Evaluating how your business impacts environmental, social, and governance issues.

Key Strategies for Positive Due Diligence

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1.) Leadership and Accountability

When it comes to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), strong leadership is crucial. Top management sets the tone by prioritizing WHS and creating a positive safety culture. By actively participating in safety meetings and supporting training initiatives, leaders show that safety is a priority, not just a box-ticking exercise.

Clear accountability is equally essential. Establishing well-defined roles and responsibilities for WHS management ensures that everyone knows who’s responsible for what. Regular safety meetings and performance reviews keep the team aligned and focused on proactive safety management.

Take a construction company in Perth, for example. After a series of safety incidents, their CEO made WHS a core company value. He introduced monthly safety town hall meetings where all employees could voice their concerns directly to management. Each department was given clear WHS targets, and progress was reviewed regularly.

Within a year, this construction company saw a significant reduction in incidents and improved employee engagement, proving that strong leadership and accountability can lead to positive WHS outcomes.

2.) Effective Risk Management

Effective risk management is all about identifying hazards, assessing risks, and taking practical steps to keep everyone safe. Tailoring hazard identification processes to fit Western Australia’s unique workplaces is key. Involving workers in spotting hazards ensures nothing gets missed and everyone feels responsible for safety.

Once hazards are identified, assessing risks and prioritizing mitigation measures come next. Tools like risk matrices and control hierarchies help businesses focus on the most critical risks and find effective solutions. For example, eliminating a hazard entirely is best, but if that’s not possible, reducing the risk through controls like barriers or protective equipment can be effective.

Monitoring and reviewing these strategies are essential to make sure they’re working. Regular audits and inspections help spot new risks, while continuous improvement ensures risk management strategies stay up-to-date.

Involving everyone in effective risk management means safer workplaces and fewer surprises, making it a win-win for both employees and businesses.

3.) Worker Engagement and Participation

Worker engagement and participation are crucial for a strong Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) culture. Consulting workers isn’t just a good idea; it’s also a legal requirement.

Creating a culture where employees feel safe to speak up about hazards or suggest improvements can significantly improve safety outcomes.

There are many ways to encourage participation. WHS committees and representatives give workers a direct voice in safety decisions, while safety suggestion programs can help uncover new ideas to reduce risks. By involving workers, businesses can identify and address hazards more effectively.

One Perth-based business, for instance, saw great success by actively engaging its workforce in WHS initiatives. They set up a WHS committee, encouraged workers to report safety concerns, and introduced a safety suggestion program that rewarded practical ideas.

This approach led to a noticeable improvement in safety performance, with fewer incidents and increased employee morale.

4.) Training and Competency Development

Training and competency development are essential for Workplace Health and Safety (WHS). Every worker needs the right skills to stay safe on the job, and effective training programs help make this happen.

WHS training starts with a solid induction for new workers, ensuring they know the basics right from day one. Regular refresher courses and updates keep everyone informed about the latest safety practices and policies.

Managing competencies is also important. Assessing skills and identifying gaps enables targeted training where it’s needed most. Encouraging ongoing professional development helps workers stay sharp and up-to-date, while also showing them that their growth is valued.

5.) Technology and Innovation

Technology and innovation are game-changers in Workplace Health and Safety (WHS). Digital tools can streamline WHS processes, making it easier to manage things like incident reporting and risk assessments.

In Western Australia, popular software like SafetyCulture and Vault Intelligence helps businesses track and analyze safety data efficiently.

Wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also transforming WHS. Wearable devices can monitor worker health and safety in real-time, alerting both workers and supervisors to potential issues like fatigue or heat stress. Meanwhile, drones and robots are being used for inspections in hazardous areas, reducing risks for workers.

6.) Incident Investigation and Reporting

Incident investigation and reporting are crucial for improving Workplace Health and Safety (WHS). Root cause analysis means going beyond blame to understand the underlying reasons behind an incident.

Tools like the “Five Whys” and Fishbone diagrams help identify the root cause, enabling businesses to implement effective solutions.

A strong reporting culture encourages workers to report incidents and near-misses without fear. When employees feel safe speaking up about what could go wrong, businesses gain valuable insights into potential hazards before they cause harm.

Fostering this culture of reporting helps create a proactive approach to WHS management. By learning from near-misses and minor incidents, organizations can prevent more serious accidents down the line.

In the end, thorough incident investigation and a positive reporting culture lead to smarter safety practices, fewer incidents, and a healthier, happier workforce.

7.) Benchmarking and Continuous Improvement

Benchmarking and continuous improvement are essential for raising the bar in Workplace Health and Safety (WHS). Internal and external benchmarking helps compare safety performance within your company and against industry peers. By understanding where you stand, it’s easier to set realistic targets and strive for better results.

Continuous improvement cycles, like the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) model, are great for WHS management. Plan by setting safety goals, Do by implementing changes, Check progress through audits, and Act by making adjustments based on what you learn.

Celebrating small wins along the way helps maintain momentum and keeps everyone motivated. Whether it’s reaching a new milestone in reducing incidents or launching a successful safety campaign, acknowledging these victories makes continuous improvement a positive and rewarding process.

Together, benchmarking and continuous improvement create a path for businesses to achieve safer, more efficient workplaces while keeping the team engaged and motivated.

The Benefits of Positive Due Diligence

  • Enhanced Compliance: Positive due diligence means reduced risks of legal penalties and fines. By actively managing Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), businesses can better understand and meet Western Australia’s specific WHS requirements. This proactive approach keeps companies compliant and prepared.
  • Better Safety Outcomes: When positive due diligence is practiced, workplace incidents and injuries decrease. A stronger safety culture emerges, where proactive behaviors like reporting hazards and following safety procedures become second nature to everyone on the team.
  • Business Benefits: Fewer incidents mean higher productivity due to reduced downtime. Plus, a company known for its safety practices earns a better reputation, making it easier to attract and retain top talent. In the long run, businesses that prioritize positive due diligence enjoy smoother operations and a more motivated workforce.

Key Takeaway

Positive due diligence in Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) involves strong leadership, effective risk management, worker engagement, training, technology, incident reporting, and continuous improvement.

These strategies can improve compliance, reduce incidents, and enhance productivity. Remember, positive due diligence is a journey, not a destination.

Take a moment to assess your current WHS strategies. If you need help navigating the complexities of WHS management, reach out to us at Spring Safety (WHS Consultants Perth WA).

We offer HSEQ Audits and Inspections, providing certified auditors to conduct independent internal audits and inspections tailored to your needs.

Seeking expert advice can help you implement proactive WHS management effectively.

We work with leading WHS lawyers who conduct engaging presentation to your board, and executive coaches with 30 plus years’ experience to work individually with your executive teams.

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