By Adrian Turner

Work-related injuries and illnesses have far-reaching consequences for Australian employers.

Preliminary data from Safe Work Australia shows that more than 120,000 people made workers compensation claims for serious injuries or illnesses incurred at work. October is National Safe Work Month and aside from highlighting the obvious hazards and risks in our workplaces, it’s also a time for businesses, and workers across the country to commit to building safer and healthier workplaces for everyone.

From slips, trips, and falls to cuts and abrasions, there are many risks of injury in any workplace, but how a business manages them can make all the difference.

Every employee has the right to be safe at work, but what does this mean?

Work Health & Safety (WHS) legislation requires employers to ensure that workplaces are physically and mentally safe and healthy for all employees. Managing risks, designing and maintaining safe workplaces, and implementing best-practice policies and procedures are all crucial elements to ensuring that businesses are meeting their WHS obligations. Ensuring that your business has clear and easy-to-follow processes in place to help employees identify, mitigate, and manage any potential hazards will help foster a culture that prioritises safety and well-being.

What are the common safety risks?

Whether it’s slippery surfaces or uneven floors, safety risks exist in every workplace, but what are the most common ones? Cuts, bruises, dislocations, fractures, and musculoskeletal injuries are the most common injuries that occur in the workplace.

Almost every industry has some type of office work, and some basic things can go a long way to making every aspect of our jobs safer. These include good communication and ensuring that workers are set up properly wherever they happen to be carrying out their duties. From repetitive work like computer use to work-related stress, injuries can occur anywhere, at any time.

How can I manage them?

Having the correct tools and processes in place to assess and control the risks in your workplace will help you identify, evaluate, and monitor potential hazards. It is vitally important that you also involve and consult with your employees on health and safety issues, their insights into the workplace will help you continually improve the way you handle safety in the workplace.

Your employer duties state that you must:

  • Provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment;
  • Give your employees the necessary information, instruction, training, or supervision needed to conduct their duties safely;
  • Ensure that the conduct of your business doesn’t endanger other people; and
  • Report notifiable incidents to the relevant body.

Breaching your WHS obligations can have extremely serious financial, legal, and even criminal consequences. Maintaining and promoting safety is key to the success of any business. Not only does prioritising WHS ensure that your people go home at the end of each day, but it also helps to create and build a supportive working environment that places real importance on employee well-being.

How HR Assured can help?

To help make sure you’re complying with all your WHS obligations, HR Assured is here to help. As part of our dedicated WHS service, you’ll receive an initial WHS audit, ongoing WHS management with access to our WHS management system, and support via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

If this article has raised any questions for you about WHS obligations or compliance, please reach out to our workplace relations experts via our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Not an HR Assured client? If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client, contact us today for an informal chat.

Adrian Turner is a Senior Product Manager for HR Assured and General Counsel at FCB Group. Adrian was initially employed with FCB from 2014 – 2017 as a Workplace Relations Consultant and Solicitor, where his role primarily involved assisting partners with complex workplace disputes, employment litigation and advice for clients. Adrian spent the next four years working in a General Counsel role outside FCB and completing his Master of Business Administration (MBA). Adrian has since returned to HR Assured in a multi-disciplinary role across the legal services and business development areas of the company. Adrian draws on his technical expertise in employment and commercial law along with his business acumen to deliver tailored advice and practical solutions to our clients.