Keeping health and safety front of mind during National Work Safety Month
4 November 2020
Male labourers and machinery operators have the highest percentage of serious injury claims per million hours worked
National Work Safety Month, an initiative run by Safe Work Australia, makes the time to prioritise safety. For an entire month, collaboration across departments, knowledge sharing and safety-themed activities that assist the understanding process, have been key to integral development at ACOEM Ecotech.
Safety activities that ran in October included the following:
Safety photo competition
Safety observations competition
Comprehensive online training & learning activities.
Work Health & Safety (WHS) through Covid-19 is this year’s theme. While Covid-19 has driven people to work from home, and thus put some of the workforce in a safer and lower-risk environment, it may have also made people more complacent to every day safety measures. Covid restrictions have touched many this year, and checking in with not only physical safety, but also the mental health of colleagues is important. National Work Safety Month falls after R U OK Day, giving everyone the space to continue the conversation.
WHS & mental health starts at home
With a large population of the workforce working from home, keeping safety front of mind comes with new risks that the individual may not be as exposed to in the workplace, such as ergonomic irregularity (such as back pain from using the incorrect desk set up) and cooking exposure (such as an open flame) than usual.
Strict lockdowns in Greater Melbourne, Victoria, have meant people are juggling multiple roles at once, parent, teacher, worker, all on a daily basis. The full effect of being locked down for too long is not evident yet, but will likely be felt for many years ahead. Living alone with no one to visit for long periods of time is stressful, adding work and homeschooling children into the equation and the outlook looks unbearable, and overwhelming.
Worker fatalities are trending downwards since 2003, dropping by 57% since 2007, however it did spike upwards in 2019. These victims are predominantly men in the 55-64 age group and are usually involved in vehicle accidents (such as machinery operation) while at work. In the year to date, there are 120 people that have died on the job in 2020, this is a significant decrease from 2019’s 185 people (Safe Work Australia).
A safe and healthy workplace saves lives – safety is everyone’s responsibility
Safety applies to everyone, and opening any business discussion with a ‘safety first’ approach gets people thinking ‘how can I apply safety in my current working space?’ No matter if it’s in the home, the office, on the road or onsite.
“Safety is for everyone from every walk of life and every department. If we all stay aware of hazards or risks throughout National Work Safety Month, and afterwards, it means all of us are less likely to be involved in an incident, whether at home or at work,” commented Sebastian Wojtas, ACOEM Ecotech HSE Advisor.
“It has become even more important this year, with sanitising regularly, wearing a mask and implementing social distancing becoming a part of our everyday lives,” he added.