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A recent study by WorkSafe has discovered that in many medium-sized businesses, no one person is responsible for safety; rather safety is handled on an ad hoc basis. Furthermore, there is little leadership from owners or directors, workplace safety is not linked to WorkCover premium performance, and there is a lack of guidance from OHS professionals.

All of these elements are part of a lack of planning that is having far-reaching impacts on businesses’ ability to reduce costs, particularly their WorkCover premiums. To help Victorian businesses with a remuneration of $1-$20 million to improve their safety and profitability, WorkSafe Victoria initiated the medium segment intervention strategy. It encouraged these businesses to integrate safety into their business management systems, to ensure they practice prevention rather than reaction, and gain commitment from owners/directors to the process.

Often owners and directors are simply unaware that systematic health and safety management and promotion leads to reduced WorkCover premiums and other cost reductions.

Part of the intervention strategy was the acknowledgement that many felt the current models of safety management systems are far too complex for the medium segment; to simplify the system, WorkSafe developed the Seven Pillars of Safety.

Of these seven pillars, the second seeks to integrate safety management into the businesses’ normal planning by ensuring objectives and targets are set with appropriate KPIs determined and budgets allocated accordingly. This removes uncertainty and acknowledges safety is simply another function of the business, which must be managed, the same as quality, sales, marketing, accounting and human resources.

So how does your workplace measure up?

Area: Planning

What to look for:

  • Company Safety Plan
  • Safety Plans budgets
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Expected practice:

  • Strategic plan signed off by business owner or direct report
  • Detailed budget items around workplace health and safety
  • Objectives in place and reviewed as part of performance review process
  • Clear evidence of consultation between workers and managers in plan development and regular reviews of plan
  • KPIs reviewed regularly and modified to reflect new challenges if necessary

Unacceptable practice:

  • No safety plan
  • No forward financial plans
  • No OHS / WHS / RTW objectives defined

Area: Acquisitions and modifications

What to look for:

  • Full investigation by certified OHS professionals.

Expected practice:

  • A report addressing all potential hazards is authorised by a certified OHS professional
  • A post acquisition modification audit is completed with any outcomes incorporated into future activities

Unacceptable practice:

  • Not done

This simplified approach is designed to support personnel in medium businesses that have OHS and RTW responsibilities on top of their normal duties. It will establish and confirm their role as the ringmasters, not the experts and as facilitators, not doers of everything.

WorkSafe have found that these people lack confidence, skills and capability, but are expected to have all the answers and are often presented with an overwhelming amount of complex information. The aim is to provide them with support that is easy to access and tailored to their needs.

General advice warning

The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration. You should look at your own situation and requirements before making any decisions.

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