Focusing on the importance of health and safety in the workplace, having the right mechanisms and solutions in place to ensure a proactive approach is key.
Workplace health and safety has always been an important topic, especially in industries such as metals and mining, oil and gas, energy and utilities, construction, and others where high risk possibilities are of high importance.
The Centre of Workplace Leadership together with Safe Work Australia has examined just how important workplace health and safety (WHS) is, and shared their research evidence that healthy and safe workplaces are more productive and make businesses more sustainable.
One of the biggest reasons why WHS matters are the significant economic and social costs that workplace illnesses, injuries, accidents and death can create. No organization wants to incur such costs, particularly when it has been estimated that these can reach a sum in excess of $60 billion each year. This can be in the forms of high workers’ compensation claims, rising insurance premiums, higher wage costs associated with replacing ill or injured workers, and any necessary site or equipment repairs.
This is where being WHS conscious leads to improved management. In addition to reducing unwanted costs, having an effective WHS management system in place can improve workplace performance. Perhaps this is the most resounding reason to invest in better WHS. The strategic value, backed by the research evidence, is also highlighted and is evident in the following ways:
- Consumers may be less willing to remain loyal to a business that has a poor WHS record
- Businesses operating in high risk industries are able to use their safety record to attract high quality job applicants and demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR)
The key to effectively maintaining a WHS system in your organization is by adopting a proactive approach. Implementing the right WHS system before any major and costly accidents occur, will ensure the ability to oversee and manage the workforce. A proactive approach to workplace health and safety also highlights the importance of improving WHS records and their management, which organizations can implement to carry out their WHS initiatives and maintain a competitive edge.
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Further reading: Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 Report.