10 May 2024 posted by Recovery Partners

Safe Work Australia has released their Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy for 2022-2023 with a clear focus on reducing workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. It outlines a national vision for workplace health and safety for all and a continuance in developing and implementing WHS systems across Australia.  

According to Safe Work Australia, nearly 200 workers are killed at work each year. More than 100,000 workers are compensated for serious work-related injuries and preventable work-related injuries cost the Australian economy an estimated $61.8 billion each year. 

The latest data revealed from their strategy reinforces the importance of not being complacent regarding workplace health and safety systems and how it is the key to reducing workplace injuries and fatalities.  

What is WHS? 

Work, Health and Safety (WHS) includes managing the risks that may impact the health and safety of the people within your workplace.  It is imperative that you protect your staff, meet your WHS obligations and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your WHSMS to maintain a safe working environment. 

 Here are four reasons why you can’t be complacent with your business’s WHS systems:
Physical and Psychosocial Health 

According to Safe Work Australia on average, just under 200 workers are fatally injured each year at work.  Their new 10-year strategy recognises that there are still too many injuries and illnesses occurring from work. The key to reducing this number is through implementing effective WHS practices, innovating and deepening our understanding of workplace health and safety and collaborating collectively and cooperatively together.  

The most common causes of workplace injuries revealed in Safe Work Australia’s findings were: 

  • Body-stressing 
  • Falls 
  • Slips and trips  
  • Being hit by moving objects 

There was also a 28% increase in psychosocial injuries between 2007-08 to 2029-20, revealing an imperative need for implementing more effective systems for supporting employee’s psychosocial needs.  

The impact that complacent workplace health and safety systems have on employees can be fatal or lead to serious injuries and illnesses. As an employer, ensuring the safety of your workplace must always be a top priority.  

Worker Fatalities by Most Common Mechanism of Incident, 2022
Financial Cost  

Similarly, complacent WHS systems in the workplace not only endanger the physical and mental wellbeing of your workers but also result in increased financial costs. In our latest Navigating Workplace Safety Excellence event, Safe Work Australia revealed that if we avoided all work-related injuries and illnesses, each year Australia’s economy would: 

  • Grow by $28.6 billion  
  • Create 185,000 additional full-time jobs  
  • Workers across all occupations and skill levels would benefit from an average wage rise of 1.3%  

Moreover, the cost that mental illness has on Australian businesses each year is upwards of $15.6bn through the loss of productivity, absenteeism and turnover. In an inquiry conducted by The Productivity Commission, it was estimated that there were costs between $12.2 billion and $39.9 billion per year as a result of loss of productivity and participation.  

Furthermore, the median worker’s compensation cost paid for mental health claims throughout 2020-21 was $58,615 which equates to almost four times the median compensation amount ($15,743) paid across all claims.  

workplace health and safety

Loss of Time  

Not only does poor workplace health and safety have a financial cost to businesses, but it also affects the amount of time employees work. Over the past 10 years, over 1,140,000 workers have made a serious workers’ compensation claim involving more than one week of working time lost.  

To reduce the amount of time lost by insufficient workplace health and safety, consider implementing the following measures: 

  1. Carry out risk assessments 
  2. Supply workers with the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)  
  3. Host toolbox talks and encourage workers to take part in safety committees  
  4. Create an effective safety culture  
  5. Ensure that workers have all the physical and psychosocial capacities necessary for safe performance of their assigned job tasks. This must be done by having them undergo fit-for-duty (pre-employment or functional) assessments. 
  6. Ensure there are robust injury response processes in place (IRC) 
Legal Obligations 

Additionally, complacent workplace health and safety systems can put your business at risk of non-compliance. In Australia, there are legal requirements that you must comply with to ensure your workplace meets WHS obligations. Although it may cost you to introduce safe practices and implement safety systems in your business, complying with WHS requirements can help you improve efficiency and productivity whilst also assisting in avoiding fines and penalties.  

Business owners are required to exercise due diligence and make sure the PCBU (persons conducting a business undertaking) complies with health and safety obligations. The law requires you to implement a health and safety policy in your workplace as soon as you start your business. You need to be aware of your health and safety responsibilities and identify and control workplace hazards ensuring that your business doesn’t pose health and safety issues to your employees or the public.   

How we can help 

Recovery Partners helps both small and large Australian businesses take a more proactive approach to managing risks and hazards in your workplaces. With our assistance, you can protect your staff, meet your WHS obligations and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your WHSMS. We offer a wide range of services to help your business run safely and conscientiously. These services help to safeguard staff wellbeing, productivity and ultimately, profitability. 

We maintain workplace safety and health with the assistance of our Safety Observation Checklist 

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/