To determine the most common breaches of occupational health and safety (OHS) practices, you only have to look at the most common causes of injury in Australian workplaces every year.
The fact that these injuries are still occurring means that breaches are also occurring, whether committed by employees failing to follow OHS procedures, or employers not taking adequate preventative measures.
According to Safe Work Australia, key Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) statistics Australia 2018 shows the most common cause of work-related fatalities is from vehicle collision and the industries where most fatalities occur are agriculture, forestry, fishing, transport, postal and warehousing.
The most common injuries that occur in Australian workplaces are:
Body Stressing (Overexertion). The leading cause of workplace injury in Australia. It includes repetitive strain injuries and injuries incurred from lifting heavy objects.
Tripping, slipping and falling. Very common causes of workplace injury, encompassing everything from slipping on a wet floor or tripping over a cord to falling off a chair or ladder, or down a flight of stairs.
Being struck by objects. Serious injury or death can result from something as simple as a hammer being dropped from an upper level of a construction site.
Other causes of workplace injuries include sharp objects, bacterial, chemical and electrical hazards, excessive noise and exposure to UV radiation.
While employees have an obligation to observe OHS procedures and report potential hazards, the onus is also on employers to maintain a safe workplace for their staff.
The introduction of federal OHS laws (Work Health and Safety Act) in 2015 provides for even more scrutiny and greater penalties than those awarded in the past. The Act also requires employers to:
- Exercise greater due diligence to remain informed about OHS matters
- Expand their duty of care to include contractors and casuals
- Consult with employees about OHS matters in a particular way
- Accept criminal consequences for discriminatory acts
- Allow unions expanded right of entry in regard to OHS matters
In light of this legislation, employers need to be doubly certain they are not committing any direct breaches of OHS practices.
A breach can also be indirect, such as not providing adequate training, so if you are in any doubt about your compliance, now’s the time to undertake compliance training for yourself and your employees.
The types of training that you should be instituting include:
- Induction training for new employees
- Hazard identification and control
- Safe manual handling
- Office safety
- Mandatory training such as first aid and certificates of competency
- On-the-job training for specialised roles
Injuries are not only physical. They can be psychological as well, so make sure your anti-bullying and sexual harassment procedures are adequate and up to date. Again, compliance training as part of a learning management system is the best way to manage such risks to your business.
The legislation is the government’s response to our unacceptably high level of workplace injuries, but it remains to be seen if these stringent obligations and harsher penalties will lead to a reduction in breaches of OHS practices.
Safetrac can assist with WHS/OHS compliance training
We provide off-the-shelf, customised and bespoke courseware that will give you the peace of mind that your staff are compliant with the current legislation. Our content and software is developed in Australia in collaboration with prominent subject matter experts. Our owners MinterEllison Lawyers ensure all of the information feeding into our courseware is accurate, up-to-date and compliant.
Working with Safetrac means securing effective and sustainable legal compliance programmes to motivate behaviour change, not just awareness. Our innovative programmes educate and engage everyone in your business.