Why Industry should drive Work Health Safety

The late former US President, Ronald Regan once said: “Governments have a tendency not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.”

Thomas Jefferson is famous for his quote: “That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.”

The point I’m trying to make is this: Sitting back, resisting improvements and forcing the government to legislate those improvements never achieved the best outcome for anybody.

We now have what we consider to be tough Work Health Safety regulations and some people don’t like it. They consider it to take up too much time and too many resources. Perhaps they believe it to be overkill.

Back in 1978, when we first started trying to help the corporate sector improve workplace safety, we met with a lot of resistance. The Australian Occupational Health And Safety Act – 1992 was still a long way off and many companies and their staff did not fully realise their responsibilities in regards to safety in the workplace and their duty of care. Nor did they appear to really want to.

But by resisting and turning a blind eye to the problems, they effectively surrendered control of workplace health and safety to government who then forced the improvement, with legislation and heavy penalties.

If you think that is the last WHS legislation you will ever see and that we’re all good now, you couldn’t be more mistaken. According to WorkSafe Australia, 3,414 workers died from 2003 to 2016. Last year alone, 187 Australians were killed at work, while over 104,000 were injured. These injuries cost the country over $60 billion – These are numbers that nobody should be happy with, least of all company owners and managers.

We all need to be proactive in improving this record.

I’ll give you an example of how through innovating, we have made rescue operations more efficient and saved lives:

When we began height safety training, we found that the rescue equipment in the market place was overly complex and operators could not easily remember or implement it. It couldn’t be easily adapted for a variety of locations, and it was too heavy, with too many individual components. All these issues made it difficult for a rescue to be conducted in minimum time.

So we put our minds to it and developed a simple Heights Safety rescue procedure using cost effective components that could be implemented in a minimum amount of time. This equipment is now integrated in our Heights Safety Training and our clients from a number of different industries use this equipment in their day to day operations.

With this example, I’m not trying to blow our trumpet, but simply by example, point out what we should be doing more of, individually and as an industry.

When we become more proactive and improve those numbers, we’ll avoid legislation that we don’t particularly agree with, or that we feel is unnecessarily complicated or difficult to implement.

I’d love to hear about innovations you have made in work health safety, either in equipment, procedures or training. I’d also love to hear about suggestions you have, or changes you would like to see in procedures, equipment or training.

Please add your comments below.