Despite businesses in Australia having a legal requirement to comply with their State’s Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws, more than 100,000 serious workplace injuries still occur every year. These range from mental stress, to trips and falls, to collisions with objects.
A leading auditing and training
SAI Global is a global risk management provider that has audited and trained thousands of
“Our audits reveal that risks are most significant in those
“Senior management needs to be serious about their legislative obligation and look at reducing risks of physical and mental illness and injury to their workers.”
What are the workplace hazards commonly overlooked by employers?
1. Heavy workloads and high levels of stress
Are employees stressed, working long hours or skipping breaks as they struggle to meet the demands of their jobs?Work-related stress is the second most common compensated illness or injury in Australia.
It can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue, psychological symptoms such as anxiety, sleep loss
The ISO 45001 Standard requires top management to include all workers in their WHS decision making, and implement ways to gather employee feedback.
2. Concealed bullying and
We tend to think of managers as the main perpetrators of
Bullying and harassment includes hurtful remarks, playing mind games, making one feeling undervalued, assigning pointless tasks that have nothing to do with a person’s job, giving impossible KPIs or jobs, changing work schedules to make it difficult for the employee, or being required to do humiliating things to be accepted in a team.
Being at the receiving end of bullying and harassment can cause emotional trauma and lead to mental health injuries.
3. Basic clutter
Do staff need to meander around stacked boxes, plants, artworks, bags
Anthony recommends that employers
Conduct risk assessments. Implement a program to sort through workplace items, ensure every item has a predetermined storage location when not used, have the workplace cleaned daily, onboard all employees on the new set of standards and ensure the new habits are adopted.
4. Blocking fire safety equipment
Are bookshelves or tall furniture pieces blocking fire exits,
Management should ensure fire safety equipment has
5. Non-adjustable chairs, desks and monitors
Think height adjustable desks are a bit of a fad? Not so. Desks,
While employers might be reluctant to incur the expense of ergonomic equipment, the cost of compensation claims as a can far outweigh the investment.
6. Extreme workplace temperatures
Are desks positioned beneath air-conditioning vents, or in draughts? Or is direct sunlight causing ‘hot spots’ in the office in summer? Employee complaints related to temperature are common.
Ideally, interior workplaces should be a comfortable even temperature of 22 degrees in summer and 24 degrees in winter. Heat and cold stress can impact our health.
An employee falling ill because they were forced to work in uncomfortable conditions can lead to days off work, and even a workers compensation claim.
7. An employer’s lack of commitment to safety
If you can’t remember seeing a company WHS policy, you have a major employee safety issue. You still have an issue if your company does have a WHS program, but not every person working under the
SAI Global auditors have seen
The relevant manager should take all staff through the company’s WHS policy and take practical steps to demonstrate that their safety is their priority. A safe culture is directly linked to productive workplaces. If a supervisor or manager does something unsafe, it’s likely that other workers will follow suit.
Rod says, “Workplace safety is non-negotiable, no matter what industry you’re in. Not complying with the Workplace Health and Safety Act can result in thousands of dollars in litigation costs, a drain on resources, potential loss of time, illness an injuries, increased WorkCover claims, a damaged brand reputation – and, of greatest concern, potential fatalities.
Employers are required by law to provide a safe, risk-free work environment for all employees.