For one month each year, workplaces across the nation are offered a reminder about promoting safety on the job – National Safe Work Month. Workplace health and safety is undoubtedly a year-round concern, however having the spotlight shone on the issue annually can be a great reminder for businesses whose policies may not have been examined throughout the year.
For 2016, Michelle Baxter, CEO of Safe Work Australia, encouraged all Australian businesses to increase their awareness in October and look for any ways the national workplace injury and fatality figures can be improved.
"National Safe Work Month has been running for over a decade and during this time there has been a steady decline in the number of workers injured or killed at work. However, each year almost 200 people are still heading off to work and not returning home," she says.
Driving WHS culture from the top
As always, National Safe Work Month in 2016 carried with it a specific theme to promote the initiative – this year the focus was on leadership setting the agenda of a positive safety culture.
"It can only be a great workplace if it's a safe workplace," said Chair of Safe Work Australia Diane Smith-Gander.
"If you have a business or you manage a business, whether small or large, take a step back, consider how you are impacting safety. I encourage you to set an action plan, both for yourself and your team to promote safety in October."
"Each year almost 200 people are still heading off to work and not returning home."
Measures to reduce the instances of injury or death in the workplace should be promoted right from the employee onboarding stage, potentially saving not just lives but also many thousands of dollars – Safe Work Australia states that each work-related injury costs an average of $116,600.
Promoting WHS in your business
Following the advice of Ms Smith-Gander, business leaders in Australia have the chance to make meaningful change to their organisation's record by reevaluating their WHS induction programme – not just in October, but year-round. Even those who are confident in their current system can likely find ways to improve.
From more robust training around hazards in the workplace to information regarding office bullying and stress management, there are a lot of areas for businesses to examine to ensure their employees are protected. No matter your industry, make 2016 the year that your business puts more effective WHS induction practices in place.