workplace safety breach

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL SAFE WORK MONTH: A CRUCIAL TIME TO REFLECT

Coming off the back of R U OK? Day, National Safe Work Month (NSWM) emerges in October. This month also sees World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October, making it the perfect time to reflect on the year so far and take note of anything which may be affecting the safety of your workplace. According to a report released by Safe Work Australia – the body which runs the NSWM campaign – 194 work-related injury fatalities occurred in 2021 alone. Although this number has been trending downward since 2007, the ultimate goal is to have no work-related deaths or injuries recorded in Australia at all. NSWM offers employers a dedicated time to focus on improving their health and safety systems and preventative measures. Deaths and injuries in the workplace are unacceptable and no one should have to go to work feeling unsafe, whether that be physically or psychologically. Often, employers are responsible for OHS.

EXPLORING THE THEMES OF NATIONAL SAFE WORK MONTH

Safe Work Australia has defined a theme for each week in October to bring a focus to different aspects of workplace health and safety. These are:

  • Week 1: Injuries at work
  • Week 2: Mental health
  • Week 3: Managing OHS risks and preventing harm
  • Week 4: Safe and healthy work for all

Each week’s focus is discussed in detail below.

Injuries at Work

This week will focus on common health and safety risks and how to control them to keep workers safe from slips, trips and falls, lifting, pushing and pulling, and moving objects.

Some of the more common types of fatal workplace injuries and work-related injury and disease in 2019-20 included:

  • vehicle collision;
  • falls from a height;
  • being hit by falling objects;
  • body stressing;
  • falls, trips and slips; and
  • mental stress.

Injuries at work are prevalent due, in part, to a lack of care for workplace occupational health and safety (OHS). Other causes are due to high-demand and high-stress working environments, lack of safety measures and processes and a lack of communication between employers and employees.

Employers, officers of a body corporate and employees are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.

Mental Health

Mental and psychological health makes up an ever-growing and salient chunk of OHS which is regularly overlooked by employers and employees alike. Work-related psychological injuries or mental illnesses can have a significant impact on workers, their families and your business. Psychological injuries may result in a longer time away from work and cost more than other injuries. At the heart of this week, Safe Work Australia will give employers the tools to identify psychosocial hazards and manage psychosocial risk, highlighting practical steps to control some of the more common hazards in the workplace. This is especially important now, given amendments to OHS legislation around psychosocial hazards has been proposed; read our article to find out more about these changes.

Suggestions for implementing mental health OHS procedures in your workplace can be found here.

Managing OHS Risks and Preventing Harm

It’s important to understand what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and how likely it is to happen. You should always eliminate risks and, where this is not possible, minimisation of any risks is key. Managing OHS risks and preventing injuries and disease are prime considerations for businesses to take into account.

Safe and Healthy Work for All

Unfortunately, even as world leaders in OHS, Australia still sees many workers injured, sometimes leading to death. This week focuses on the future of work and how it may impact your business. It explores changing patterns and ways of working including the rise of automation, changes to work organisation and the emergence of new forms of work. Some of the more notable changes to work and broad concerns moving into an IT-filled future include:

  • creation and deletion of jobs;
  • changing work designs to manage the risk of psychosocial injuries;
  • physical inactivity;
  • rise of AI and Automation;
  • reduction in jobs requiring low skillsets;
  • increased value in people-to-people skills;
  • virtual workplaces; and
  • questions around the duties of employers with employees working from home.

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO MAKE SURE MY EMPLOYEES ARE SAFE?

Identify and discuss

  • Consult with workers;
  • Observe work productivity and behaviours;
  • Facilitate anonymous surveys; and
  • Have a reporting mechanism and encourage the reporting of hazards and incidents

Procedures

  • Implement OHS policies; and
  • Create plans for OHS incidents and hazards.

Educate

  • Educate employees and management staff about the risks and benefits of OHS.

Evaluate

  • Evaluate your current processes for preventing and managing risks in OHS issues;
  • Consider the duration, frequency and severity of risks; and
  • Ask an officer from your respective State’s governing body to assess any potential hazards in the workplace.

Maintain

  • Maintain a safe workplace by controlling the risks; and
  • Inspect any defects which may impact company vehicle safety.

Review and Record

  • Regularly review any control measures you have in place as a business;
  • Record risk management processes and outcomes as they come; and
  • Conduct OHS investigations where needed.

Redesign

  • Redesign existing workplace processes to ensure the physical and psychological safety of employees now and in the future.

GOT A MILLION BURNING QUESTIONS ABOUT OHS? GET IN TOUCH TODAY!

Employers are required by statute to have OHS management systems in place. If you’re not sure about what’s required by law, or you simply have a few pressing questions you’d like to have sorted, you’ve come to the right place!

Workplace Wizards are specialised employment and HR outsource advisors who can assist you in anything workplace-related! We provide advice, support and strategies to businesses to help you deal with any workplace gaffs in the right way! The Wizards are here to help you to uphold OHS standards and ensure your workplace is as compliant as can be – so that you and your employees have peace of mind at work! To find out more, call us on (03) 9087 6949 or, alternatively, email us at support@workplacewizards.com.au!

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