Workplace health and safety is about preventing injury and keeping workers safe – and it needs to become a core business unit for all industries.
As at October 2015, Safe Work Australia reported 126 workplace fatalities, with the transport, postal and warehousing sector recording the highest number with 42 deaths this year. The concerning data also shows the cost of injured workers each year is costing Australia over $60 billion annually, with 531,800 workers injured each year – 118,000 classed as ‘serious’.
Despite this alarming statistic from WA, there still seems to be continued defiance within Australian organisations to prioritise workplace health and safety.
Responding to 2015 Safe Work Australia report about workplace fatalities, ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said,
“Employers, governments and unions must work together to ensure safety is at the highest level in our workplaces because we can do a lot better than we currently are.” - ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick
Allan Fowler, Founder and Director of Melbourne-based national training organisation Your Licence Pty Ltd, says since the introduction of harmonised WHS laws, organisations have been placing greater emphasis on ensuring employees are qualified – but we still have a long way to go.
“There needs to be a major culture shift in Australia. All industries, not just the mining and heavy industries, need to move away from seeing workplace health and safety as a resistance to productivity, but as a driver for efficiency, safety and the wellbeing of employees.”
The statement comes after a recent surge of court cases have found organisations within a range of different industries to be non-compliant and negligent in regards to their workplace health and safety responsibilities, causing injury and in some cases fatalities.
- $1 million fine for company after very preventable death
- Perth company fined $100,000 for failing to prevent workplace death
“These often preventable deaths and injuries prove that not all industries are taking WHS seriously enough. We’re not only talking about a devastating human cost as a consequence of this, but a massive monetary cost to businesses,” says Allan.
Fowler notes that a better culture around safety is not only going to reduce the rate of injury and illness to save organisations financially, it will also reduce employee time spent away from work, improving organisational productivity.
He says a key to changing WHS culture within an organisation is ensuring the right framework is put into place from organisational level down to individual level, with particular emphasis on regular and comprehensive training.
According to the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), “inadequate training or supervision” was one of the four top workplace situations related to a cause of death onsite between 2000 and 2012. (Source: Australia Mining here)
“Training and regularly refreshing your knowledge will help keep workers safe but also improves their skills, keeping them up to date with new practices, laws and technology – particularly important when dealing with high-risk work. All of these combined are going to drive an organisation’s productivity and efficiency.”
He notes that traditional training methods for up skilling workers can be time-consuming and costly, a barrier that is significantly reduced using blended learning delivery.
“By combining online learning and theory with practical face-to-face assessments, we are able to significantly reduce the time workers spend away from their day to day activities, thereby saving the company time, money and resources,” Fowler said.
“The bottom line is that those organisations taking responsibility for providing a safe place to work, an organisational culture that puts safety first, and the right framework to ensure personnel are adequately trained and skilled – those are the ones who will reap the ultimate benefits.”
All learning materials are regularly updated and mapped to the relevant units of competence, and students received a nationally recognised qualification when they successfully complete the required components.