Every year, Safe Work Australia asks workers and employers Australia wide to commit to building safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians. That’s why this month, and every October, is National Safe Work Month.
While there has been a decline in the rate of work-related fatalities since Safe Work Australia’s inception in 2008, research also shows that work-related injuries and disease continue to cost the Australian community $61.8 billion, every year!
The most recent report from Safe Work Australia on worker fatalities, looked at data from 2003 to 2016. During these 13 years, 3,414 workers lost their lives, which means that tragically, an average of 20 workers lose their lives, every month.
In fact, as of November, 169 Australians have been killed at work in 2021 – which in our eyes, and everyone’s eyes, is 169 too many. That’s why we’ve looked at some of the best strategies for creating a safe work environment, so that you and those around you get home safe to the people and activities you love.
What we work safe for is a big focus of the month, and it’s something we at Gouldson Legal take seriously – which is why we asked every member of our team why they work safe, to remind us all that it’s not a burden to work safe, it’s a way of getting home to who and what we love. For many of us, our family, friends and things we love to do (eat, explore, travel) are the main motivators for working safe, every day.
So, what are some practices to help us all work safe, every day?
- Follow the procedures your workplace has put in place and wear all relevant PPE (personal protective equipment): unfortunately, it’s all too common to cut corners or ditch the PPE in order to get the task done faster, or because that’s become a habit in the workplace – this leaves you and those around you more exposed to risk, so it’s worth doing right.
- Don’t let alcohol or drugs affect your ability to work: keep alcohol and drug use out of the workplace as much as is possible – if you’re on prescription medication you should consult your doctor about how this may impact your working ability (especially reaction times) and advise your employer, so they are aware of your limitations.
- Take your breaks and stay refreshed: when we’re busy it’s all too easy to skip our breaks or eat on the go, but research shows that breaks do more than just give us a chance to eat – they boost our cognition, productivity and mood, all things which can help keep us focused and safe at work.
- Speak up for safety: while it can sometimes be hard to raise things in the workplace, it’s better to speak up about risks or hazards so that they can be addressed. If you constantly feel unsafe in your workplace, you can report them to Work Safe Qld here. For other states your SafeWork entities can also take complaints – these are state based entities.
Lastly, there is a large onus on your employer to provide you and your fellow workers with a safe work environment. This includes the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) as well as ensuring all equipment is well maintained – this extends to machinery, vehicles and tools – anything you would use in the course of your work.
You should also receive adequate training for your role and related tasks. Also your workplace should have in place procedures to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries occurring.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in all workplaces, and we all too often see the consequences of unsafe work environments, which result in accidents, injuries and tragically, fatalities. While it can never undo the damage done, thankfully we can often assist with a Workers Compensation Claim, to ease the financial burden and allow time for recovery and adjustment.