Department of Health

Healthy Workers Initiative

Quality Framework  for the  Healthy Workers Initiative

Risk and Safety

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Programs are delivered safely through a comprehensive risk management approach.
RationaleThere are inherent potential risks in providing healthy living programs. These risks vary from minimal through to significant depending on the client, the intensity of programs being offered and the environment in which they are being delivered. Providers have a duty of care to clients, communities and funders to ensure appropriate risk management approaches in all program delivery to promote safety and minimise harm.

Risk and Safety CriteriaWhy/How/ResourcesSuggested Evidence
1.1 The provider has an active risk management policyWhy:

It is important that your staff (paid and volunteer) and program participants have a safe, fair and supportive environment and that program planning and work processes promote this. Risk can be defined as the combination of the probability of an event and its consequences6. A policy on risk management increases opportunities for positive outcomes, decreases the likelihood of undesirable results and provides a guide for staff on:

  • a process to identify hazards and risk
  • actions to avoid or reduce the chance of something going wrong
  • a process for decision making
  • communication lines and responsibilities.


Providers need to have a policy in place that details how risk is assessed, how strategies are applied to reduce risk, as well as how hazards and incidents are reported and managed.


The following resources/ links provide useful resources and examples of risk policies;

Evidence may include:
  • a current (within last 3 years) Risk Management Policy
  • risk register
  • hazard and incident reports
  • evidence of how risks, hazards and incidents are managed where relevant
  • documentation of technical inspections and testing.
Risk and Safety CriteriaWhy/How/ResourcesSuggested Evidence
1.2 A risk assessment is undertaken for all programs in each environment in which they are delivered.Why:

The type and level of risk vary between environments and programs and can change over time. Out of concern for the health and safety of participants and staff, duty of care, good business sense and cost effectiveness, a risk assessment considering people, equipment and property should be completed for all programs in each specific environment in which they operate. Processes for reviewing and updating risk assessments should be established as part of good management practice.

When working with workplaces it is important to have a discussion with the employer as there will be shared risks in this environment. It is essential both the employer and service provider know who is responsible for what risks and how they will be managed.


Risk assessment is an ongoing process, undertaken at various times, including:

  • for all new programs, interventions or environments
  • when a hazard has been identified
  • when a change in the workplace occurs
  • after an incident, accident or workplace illness
  • at regularly scheduled times.

Risk assessment should be documented including naming of the risk, rating its likelihood and severity of consequence, the appropriate mitigation strategies and monitoring mechanisms. A Risk Assessment Template can be used for this purpose (example templates are in the resources below).

A hazard inspection should be undertaken on a regular basis (e.g. every two months) to identify any hazards. A standardised checklist can be developed to list possible hazards that may occur in your particular service.

Table 2 outlines potential risks for providers to consider for healthy eating, physical activity and general programs. These are a guide only, are not exhaustive and must be assessed for relevance.


The following resources/ links provide examples of risk assessment guidelines, templates and checklists:

Standards Australia. 2004. HB 246-2004 Guidelines for Managing Risk in Sport and Recreation

Standards Australia. 2004 Risk Management Guidelines Companion to AS/NZS 4360:2004 Extra Hands Sample Risk Assessment Template Small Business Fire Safety Hazard Audit Checklist

Examples include copies of:
  • risk assessment template/s used by the provider
  • risk and safety policies and procedures
  • completed risk assessment/s
  • hazard and incidence reports.

Examples of Risk and Mitigation Strategies

RiskMitigation Strategy
Incorrect use of equipment

Ensure staff and clients are trained and understand the correct use of equipment

Safety instructions are visible for all equipment and products

Safety equipment and protocols for its use are appropriately displayed.

Medical emergencyFirst aid capacity and emergency response plans are in place and are appropriate to the level of risk. This may include:
  • The presence of a qualified First Aid Officer
  • Access to a telephone
  • Appropriate first aid supplies (accessible, well stocked, unlocked).

Relevant staff undertake mental health first aid training.
Spread of infectionPolicies and processes to:
  • Manage body fluid spills
  • Appropriately clean equipment between use
  • Ensure spaces for group activities are appropriately ventilated
  • Promote and provide hand washing/personal hygiene
  • Discourage use of facilities by clients with upper respiratory tract infections.
Slips / tripsEnsure the environment is checked and hazards are removed where possible prior to program implementation

Ensure hazard signs are available and used for example for wet floors

Inadequately maintained equipmentAll equipment is maintained according to manufacturers specifications

An equipment maintenance plan is in place.

Client safetyAppropriate security measures are in place. This may include:
  • Ensuring walking programs are conducted in groups, in well lit environments, that locks are provided on rooms, etc
  • Use of safety equipment e.g. use of outdoor bicycles includes the wearing of helmets
  • Use of pools:
    • Appropriate floatation devices and resuscitation aids are readily available
    • Pools are maintained according to Australian Standards
    • Safe entry and exit of pools is enhanced with appropriate rails.
Emergency procedures A communication strategy and contingency plan to use if an emergency occurs is available and:
  • is explained to participants prior to program commencement
  • evacuation procedure and assembly points are displayed
  • an incident/accident reporting system in place
  • an attendance list (sign in and sign out) is used.
Personal information accessed without consent Registration Forms and personal medical information is stored securely in a lockable container or cabinet

Information is accessible during each program should it be required e.g. for an emergency

Discussions with clients about personal information are conducted in private

Staff do not disclose information about clients without their consent.

Strict privacy guidelines for the use of social media including not providing others names or photos

Financial RiskAppropriate insurance in place

Fee structure reviewed regularly

Healthy Eating Programs
RiskPossible Risk Minimisation Strategies
Food Allergies
    • Foods are chosen so that exposure to those foods known to be highly allergenic (such as peanuts) is minimised
    • Assess for food allergies in client group
    • Alert clients to the ingredients involved.
Knife injuries
    • Ensure knives are stored safely
    • Ensure knives are kept sharp
    • Teach clients on how to correctly handle knives / sharp instruments.
    • Teach clients to working safely with hot liquids, stoves etc.
Food handling breaches
    • Monitor adherence to food handling standards7
    • Monitor the temperature of stored food
    • Ensure appropriate handling of high risk foods such as raw meats.
Culturally appropriate foods
    • Provide culturally appropriate food services that meet participants’ cultural and religious needs and preferences
    • Information is provided in the preferred languages of participants
    • Staff demonstrate cultural respect.
Suspicion of malnutrition or eating disorder
    • Clients are encouraged to see a nutrition expert or general practitioner.
Physical Activity Programs
Inadvertent harmBased on the level of intensity of the physical activity providers should:
  • Undertake risk screening8 on all clients and refer for further assessment those clients with risk flags; and/or
  • Require all clients to be medically approved for participation; and/or
  • Require those clients identified at higher risk of an untoward event to be further assessed9 and programs tailored accordingly; and/or
  • If the client has pre-existing and known health conditions, the client accepts the risk to exercise (risk waiver) or they obtain medical/health professional clearance before commencement of any physical activity program.
Dehydration Water is encouraged before, during and soon after exercising.
Pain during exerciseParticipants are advised to stop exercising and tell the leader if:
  • Chest pain/discomfort or pressure is evident
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations are felt
  • Any unusual or worsening pain
  • Nausea, dizziness or light headedness
  • Sweating or hot flushes not explained by physical effort

Seating and ice/cold packs are available where practical.

6 International Organisation for Standardisation. ISO/IEC Guide 73 Risk management – Vocabulary – Guidelines for use in standards. Geneva: ISO, 2002.
7 Food Safety Standards Mandatory Standards for All Food Businesses and Fact Sheets for Community Organisations
8 Risk screening is a primary level, simple assessment process aimed at identifying areas of risk that require further assessment. See

9 This may be by for example General Practitioner, Exercise Physiologist, Dietician, Physiotherapist, Personal Fitness Trainer, depending on risk identified, type of program being offered and availability of local professionals.

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Published date: July 2012