Workplace health and safety
Staying safe at work should be one of the top priorities for employers and employees alike. No matter how seemingly riskfree your occupational field may be, accidents can and will happen, so it pays to implement safe practices that will protect you in case of unfortunate circumstances. Such practices may not always be cheap, and you won't see the results of your investment directly unless something goes wrong, but the effects of not taking action when it matters can have dire consequences in the long run. With that in mind, here are the some of the aspects you'll need to concentrate on in order to achieve a safe working environment:
1. Have the right attitude about it
Workplace Health & Safety (or WHS for short) shouldn't be seen as an expensive burden that will never pay dividends. Implementing and respecting healthy guidelines is a must for any company that wants to be taken seriously, for there is nothing more important than ensuring the safety of your workers, customers and that of the general public.
2. Know and understand current laws
Formerly known as Occupational Health and Safety, the new WHS guidelines are easily accessible online or from your local state or territory WHS agencies. Be aware that laws can slightly differ according to region, although the majority of Australia now follows the rules indicated by the Model Work Health and Safety Act of 2011.
3. Identify the main hazards
No two workplaces are identical. A nuclear power plant will have radically different safety procedures than an IT firm, to give just one extreme example. Which is why it's essential to isolate the physical, biological, chemical and psychosocial hazards that your particular company is responsible for. Of course, some industries are much more prone to specific hazards than others. The agricultural, construction and mining sectors especially tend to use hazardous materials in their daytoday activity and need to be regulated accordingly.
4. Implement safe systems of work
Everything from the machinery you employ to the premises you inhabit must comply with existing WHS legislation. Cutting corners or failing to accurately report your issues may lead to fines and even prosecution. Since the legal obligations can vary greatly depending on circumstances, every employer is advised to seek legal counsel in order to gauge what is applicable in the situation at hand.
Introducing the industry professionals
For all their expertise, professionals in the work and safety industry tend to be well trained and compensated. Salaries start at AU$40,138 and can rapidly increase according to experience and level of responsibility. For example, a health and safety manager can expect to earn upwards of six figures even at the intermediate level, with salaries topping out at around $AU230,000 for highranking experts. What's more, research predicts a consistent growth in employment for this profession in the following years, with several thousand jobs opening up by 2019. As for gender distribution, males still outnumber female WHS professionals quite handily, but the gap is narrowing in certain places like New South Wales, where women are getting involved in the industry at a faster pace than men.
Statistics vs myths
It's definitely worth dispelling the myth that claims in the industry are few and far between. While progress has definitely been made on all fronts, there are still plenty of unnecessary injuries and fatalities happening each year. In fact, it's estimated that 1 in 100 employees will have the case for a serious claim, with the highest number of issues being reported in the Healthcare and social assistance sectors. A serious claim is defined as anything that involves a total of one or more weeks of time lost from work and can often lead to significant financial losses incurred on the behalf of the company. Employers should definitely note the staggering 71% increase in the median payment afforded for a serious claim since the turn of the century.
Staying uptospeed in the age of information overload
Of course, the best way to stay on the safe side is to keep yourself informed. Studies show that the most common source of information for most people in this regard is what they see, hear and read about in the media. But, rather than relying on oftbiased media sources to provide accurate information, employers and employees alike are encouraged to seek out training courses that specialise in workplace risk reduction. That concludes our quick overview of WHS protocols in the contemporary world. It may be helpful to note that, like with most other things in life, learning how to be safe is an acquired skill. But it's one that absolutely no person should ever have to do without.