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Promoting safety in the workplace this World Day for Safety and Health at Work

On Friday 28 April, the world will mark the 2023 World Day for Safety and Health at Work. On this day, it is timely to reflect on the importance of work health and safety processes in your organisation, and the obligation of persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) and individuals to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure safety and wellbeing in their organisations.

A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental principle and right at work

The theme for the 2023 World Day for Safety and Health at Work is ‘A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental principle and right at work’. This theme is underpinned by the concept that each person has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Central to that concept is the principle of good work design.

As outlined by Safe Work Australia in its recent campaign statement:

“Good work design supports this right [to a safe work environment] by fostering a safe and healthy physical and psychosocial environment for workers. PCBUs have a duty to consider good work design, which encompass four key considerations:

  1. The work, including how work is performed, the task duration, frequency and complexity.
  2. Your workers’ needs, preferences and capacities.
  3. The physical environment, including the workplace itself, plant, equipment, materials and substances.
  4. The systems and processes involved in the work, including information technology, business management and human interaction.”

10-year national strategy

The theme of World Day for Safety and Health at Work aligns with the new 10-year national strategy to reduce workplace fatalities, announced by Safe Work Australia in February 2023.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023–2033 outlines a national vision for safety and sets a platform for delivering on key work health and safety (WHS) performance indicators, such as a reduction in workplace fatalities.

The approach that is being taken is to aim for:

  • embedding good WHS practices in all work, across all industries, cohorts and hazards;
  • innovating and deepening knowledge of WHS risks to broaden understanding; and
  • collaborating consistently and effectively to respond to WHS challenges.

Some of the persistent challenges are identified as being the management of psychosocial risks, vulnerable workers and lack of resources for small businesses.

The emerging challenges include:

  • automated technologies and their impact on work;
  • online and gig economy type work;
  • growth in age of the workforce;
  • hybrid work;
  • climate-related risks, including disease, heat, flooding and extreme weather events; and
  • more complex supply chains and shared responsibility for hazards.

Read more about the strategy’s release here.

Take part in World Day for Safety and Health at Work

The 2023 World Day for Safety and Health at Work offers an opportunity for all workplaces to take active steps to promote safety in the workplace, whether it is related to good work design, WHS challenges or more general safety issues.

The day itself has been observed around the world for more than 15 years as a day to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally, and is part of a campaign to raise awareness on the impact and significance of work-related injuries and diseases.

Take the opportunity to arrange some activities to promote the approach your organisation will take to maintaining a healthy and safe work environment, such as:

  • organising an afternoon tea or toolbox talk to discuss work health and safety;
  • arranging for a senior manager to speak at your workplace on safety issues;
  • sharing social media posts about work health and safety; and
  • chatting about work health and safety in your team meetings.
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