New resource: Preventing and managing workplace stress
Work stress, when it is excessive or long-lasting can have a negative effect on employees' health, safety and wellbeing and can lead to psychological injury. This guide will help employers and leaders to identify, eliminate or reduce and manage the risk of work-related stress. Also provided are useful links with related information. More on Stress.
WorkSafe investigates dozens of companies for COVID breaches
It was reported last month that WorkSafe Victoria is investigating 24 companies for potentially breaching COVID-19 workplace safety measures. The regulator's Chief Executive Colin Radford revealed the names of the 24 companies in a written submission to the parliamentary Public Accounts and Estimates Committee. The parliamentary Public Accounts and Estimates Committee is probing the Victorian Government's Response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The list includes a major hospital, several residential aged care facilities, several meat processing companies/abattoirs, and a large retail hardware chain. In reply to a question as to whether the investigations concerned the workplace safety of healthcare workers and private security guards, Mr Radford said, “Yes, they do in so far as each of the investigations is looking at whether there has been a breach of a duty holder’s duty of care under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.” Read more: news.com.au
New campaign targets 'bullet-proof' farm safety attitude
WorkSafe Victoria has launched what it calls a 'confronting new campaign' to highlight that farm deaths and life-changing injuries can happen to anyone who doesn't prioritise safety. The six-week advertising campaign launched last week across regional television, print, radio, digital and social media channels.
The campaign's key message - "It's never you, until it is" - aims to challenge a common mindset among farmers and agriculture workers that a serious incident won't happen to them. Emotional story telling targets owner-operator farmers, their workers and families, to bring home the cost of not taking a safety-first approach.
Agriculture remains one of the state's most dangerous industries, with 24 people dying as a result of on-farm workplace incidents in the past three years. Last year 424 people working in agriculture, or about eight people every week, were injured seriously enough to make a worker's compensation claim.
The campaign is part of a wider push to shift attitudes around farm safety under WorkSafe's Agriculture Strategy 2020-23, which sets out how the regulator will engage with industry to drive change and encourage a mindset that farm workplace deaths and injuries are preventable, not inevitable. It focuses on high-risk hazards such as machinery, livestock and chemicals and will collaborate with industry to improve the safety of vulnerable employees, including migrant and seasonal workers. Read more: WorkSafe media release
New tool - Assessing Psychosocial Risks
Safe Work Australia has published a new online tool to help businesses identify, assess and manage psychosocial risks at work.
People at Work has been developed to help businesses to identify key psychosocial hazards in the workplace and provides guidance on practical ways to manage them.
A systematic approach to psychological health benefits everyone. SWA says: "The benefits may include decreases in work-related injuries, illnesses, claims, absenteeism and turnover, and increases in engagement, productivity, job satisfaction and attraction of top talent."
People at Work can help businesses comply with their health and safety duties, better manage work-related psychosocial hazards and prevent psychological harm. People at Work was developed through collaboration between Australian work health and safety regulators and leading researchers. Check out the People at Work website. There is a great deal of material: learning modules, assistance in writing a survey, and much more.
Reminder: COVID-19 vaccine information for workplaces
If you haven't yet done so, check out the Safe Work Australia information on work health and safety and COVID-19 vaccines.
This advice is very useful, as SWA not only reminds employers of their duties to eliminate, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but also provides advice on whether employers can make the vaccination mandatory. Vaccine work health and safety information is available for employers, small business and workers in 37 different industries and is accessible via the dropdown menu tool on the SWA site.
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics since the last edition of SafetyNet. As at 18 February, 11 Australian workers had been killed at work in 2021. The 2020 and 2021 figures listed in the table on the SWA website are based mainly on initial media reports and provide a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working.
Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident. Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards.The deaths this year have been in the following sectors:
4 in Transport, postal & warehousing
2 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
1 in Arts & recreation services
1 in Construction
1 in Manufacturing
1 in Other Services
1 in Wholesale trade
Note that the figures are based on preliminary reports, and so at times will change. To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.