Award winner illustrates a potential new approach to small business OHS support

The most interesting winner at the Safe Work Australia was a small greengrocer, The Hub Fruit Bowl.  This family run business improved their occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) with little more than a free “Small Business Safety Pack” from SafeWorkSA (no longer available on the SafeWorkSA website).  This is a remarkable contrast to the, presumably expensive, Dupont-based achievement of Australian construction company, Grocon.  The win also illustrates the continued importance of the need for free, or cheap, practical plain safety advice. (Why isn’t there a Dummies Guide to Workplace Safety?)

The Hub Fruit Bowl’s achievement could have far-reaching effects as the low-cost approach can be applied to thousands of small businesses in Australia.   The greengrocer has a healthy record of providing young people with their first jobs, jobs that include a solid understanding of workplace health and safety.  The Grocon experience is more corporate and very common where solutions are sought from outside one’s business.

The Hub Fruit Bowl’s win should encourage OHS regulators to reassess their small business OHS strategies.  Instead of funding OHS consultants to provide three or six hours of OHS advice, frequent encouragement and engagement with small business, structured round documented processes may be more effective.  SafeWorkSA does not mention the concept of “case managers” but applying this to harm and injury prevention strategies may have merit.  Providing sustained support and encouragement instead of a quick intense session should be seriously considered by OHS regulators.

It may also be useful to consider providing pro-bono safety services to small businesses, as a civic duty but also to freshen the experiences of safety professionals.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

2 thoughts on “Award winner illustrates a potential new approach to small business OHS support”

  1. Love it. I have donated over $80k worth of pro bono safety consulting to small businesses in my local area over the past 3 years. I truly believe that just because a business doesn’t have deep pockets doesn’t mean their risks are any less so why shouldn’t they get the help they need. A fatality is a fatality no matter what business it is.

  2. The greaterajority of small businesses need some hand holding in the initial stages to get things running and then you will find that they need an annual check up just see that things are humming along nicely. The big issues start when a significant accident happens despite all the preventtaive measures that have been put in place.

    The system becomes difficult to deal with and it is at this point a white knight is needed to “manage” the early stages of the incident and it’s complications so that the impact on the business and other employees is minimised while at the same time looking after the interests of an injured worker.

    It is not hard and quite inexpensive, say $2000,.00 to get everything in place and $500,00 per year for the check up, which will hopefully keep injuries at bay and if an injury does happen $300,.00 to assist with claim preparation and managment phone/email advice to manage the claim.

    It is just not that hard. Many of my clients are running along very nicely on this method and safety plays a strong role in the effective day to day management of the business.

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