Ensuring that your staff are safe on the worksite, and that your business is in compliance with regulation, is an investment. However, given the costs involved for shirking your responsibilities in this area, the costs of compliance are better seen as a money-saving investment.
Workplace injuries cost a massive $61.8 million in Australia each year, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The reputational damage and legal liabilities of workplace injuries are where the real costs are, and a single accident incident can often become a business-ending event.
To avoid that happening, how can you spend resources and money to ensure that you’re compliant and meeting (and exceeding) your workplace safety obligations?

  1. Making sure you’ve got the right equipment and that it’s maintained
    This is the most obvious one, but you should make sure that your employees have access to the safety equipment that they need. If they need an arc flash shield or chemical hazard suit, for example, then it should be employer-provided and maintained.
    The maintenance is such an important component, too. A casual shirt or pair of pants that has a slight tear in it isn’t such an issue – in fact it often makes the clothing more valuable since you can call it “distressed.” However, safety equipment with any degradation whatsoever become a risk.
    Flames or chemicals can get behind the safety clothing, goggles can break and, in extreme circumstances, the safety equipment can have the effect of actually increasing the damage done. So, after every use, the safety equipment used needs to fully examined for any evidence of damage and replaced if necessary.

  3. Conducting a site audit before commencing work
    Commissioning a hazard inspection as part of the process of drawing up the SWMS document is an important investment before commencing work. Work sites will often have hazards that are not immediately apparent, and without identifying them and chronicling the mitigation strategy for them, those hazards can be a much greater threat to employees than the more obvious risks.

  5. In that context, hiring a specialist to do a thorough inspection of a site is a good idea.

  7. Providing ongoing education to staff for safety best practices.

Training is an investment in time and it means the employee will be spending time away from productive work. It also tends to be something that people will grumble about. However, having ongoing training and annual updates and refreshers can be a highly effective way of ensuring that everyone on the site understands what is needed of them to maintain workplace safety.
Backing that training up needs to be clear workplace policies, governing behaviour and safety protocols. While the safety of a workplace is ultimately the employer’s responsibility, every employee needs to understand what is needed from them to help ensure the safety of all.
NECA has a long history in doing much more than simply providing safety equipment. We also consult closely with our clients to help them understand safety best practices. NECAs HSEQ team provide NECA Members with a free 90-minute NECA Member Site Safety Advisory visit to help your business improve your standards of OHS compliance. For more information, or to start a conversation around workplace safety with NECA’s HSEQ Experts click here.