Today was a big day for organisations and government authorities to restate their commitments to workplace safety.
Queensland’s Industrial Relations Cameron Dick has stated that “workers and their families were paying too high a price for their jobs.
“Every year more than 100 Queenslanders die and tens of thousands more suffer a work-related injury or illness, costing the Queensland economy about $5 billion a year. That is just not good enough and we can all do more to reduce that toll. Safety needs to become an integral part of the everyday culture of all Queensland workplaces and we must realise that safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
South Australia’s IR Minister, Paul Holloway has said
“The imperative to proactively manage safety is one we can never stop reinforcing, given the ever-changing nature of the workforce and the need to protect new entrants to the working environment.”
Very surprisingly he also said that
“We’re on track to beat the nationally-agreed target of a 40% reduction in workplace injury in the ten years to 2012, but we can never ease up.”
Most OHS regulators are struggling to reach the 2012 target of the National OHS Strategy which has set targets
- To reduce the incidence of work-related deaths by at least 20% by 30 June 2012.
- To reduce the incidence of workplace injury by at least 40% by 30 June 2012.
WorkSafe Victoria’s Allan Beacom said in am OHS procurement seminar today that WorkSafe is likely to miss the target but that the organisation is redoubling its efforts.
The strategic target should have been achievable and the reasons put forward about the failures by regulators will be noteworthy.
Safe Work Australia Chair, Tom Phillips AM stated in a media release not yet available online:
“More than 260 Australians die as a result of work related injuries and over 135 000 are seriously injured every year. National Safe Work Australia Week reminds us all that safety in the workplace is a country-wide priority. The simple philosophy of there being no excuse for any accident can only be upheld if everyone has a strong commitment to workplace safety.”
The numbers clearly indicate the need for a safety priority but the second sentence is curious. Phillips supports upholding the “philosophy of there being no excuse for any accident” through “a strong commitment to workplace safety”. This seems very close to some of the arguments that are being put forward by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and the trade union movement in New South Wales over the last few weeks.
Other organisations that are capitalizing on Safe Work Australia Week include:
- The nurse’s union is focusing on needlestick injuries.
- Unions NSW is taking the opportunity to ramp up its “Don’t Risk 2nd Rate Safety” advertising campaign.
- The Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry “is calling on management to this week set aside 30 minutes with staff in each workplace to open a dialogue on health and safety.”
- The National Electrical and Communications Association’s CEO, Mr James Tinslay states that “Having a culture that respects the need for safety procedures is integral in having a strong and successful business.”