A look at the seven pillars of workplace safety

All SMBs should integrate workplace safety into management systems, practice prevention rather than reaction and show commitment to the process. Use the seven pillars of safety as a guideline to making this happen in your business.

WorkSafe Victoria has recently implemented a medium segment intervention strategy to address the alarming workers compensation statistics in the medium business segment that is responsible for approximately 40 percent of all workers compensation claims. Research conducted by WorkSafe into the medium sector has found that safety is often undelegated or “juggled” on an ad hoc basis. It’s not demonstrably led from the owner or director level, not linked to WorkCover premium performance and not being guided by professional OHS advice, all contributing to poor OHS and Return to Work outcomes.

WorkSafe categorises the medium segment in Victoria as those businesses with $1 to $20m remuneration. If you fall in this category, it’s time to review your OHS practices to ensure they are up to date and properly implemented.

What is the medium segment intervention strategy?

The strategy involves a three-pronged approach to:

  • Support the “juggler” by building OHS and Return to Work capability,
  • Reposition OHS professionals by developing capability of the OHS professional community
  • Conduct visits with owners and directors offering an independent six hour OHS consultancy funded by WorkSafe to actively promote the benefits of engaging suitably qualified OHS professionals.

WorkSafe have found that “jugglers” lack confidence, skills and capability, 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.

How will it affect your business?

WorkSafe encourages all businesses to integrate safety into their business management system, practice prevention rather than reaction, and show commitment from owners/directors to the process. However, many people feel that current models of safety management systems are far too complex, resulting in WorkSafe developing the ‘Seven Pillars of Safety’ – a simplified approach to safety in the workplace.

The seven pillars of safety include:

1. Setting out Senior Management Roles and Accountability to ensure the organisation has the structure to proactively manage health and safety.

2. Safety being part of the Strategic Planning process with set budgets, objectives, targets and KPIs.

3. Implementing a process for Recording and Reporting OHS incidents/events with clear visibility at director level.

4. Providing Training and Supervision to ensure managers, supervisors and workers understand impacts of poor performance and fulfil their roles and responsibilities.

5. Implementing a Consultation process with staff on health and safety and return to work improvements.

6. Developing and implement a system for Hazard Management.

7. Implementing Return to Work/Injury Management programs and activities.

The new approach is designed to support the jugglers, confirming their role as the ringmasters not the experts, and as facilitators, not doers of everything. Using the seven pillars as a guideline, businesses now have a much simpler view and understanding of their roles and responsibilities.

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