6th September, 2014

Worker safety essential for every industry

Workplace safety is often thought of as the responsibility of large companies with particularly dangerous operations. Cases of employees receiving large payouts because of serious injuries from a hazardous line of work has lead many companies to take steps to improve safety.

However, many smaller and relatively safe Australian companies still don’t have the right levels of support to ensure that their workers are not injured. In retail and hospitality there is still a real need to ensure workers are protected with policies such as worker compensation insurance, even if the chance of injury is relatively low.

In fact, the risks that come from handling retail goods has recently prompted an investigation from WorkSafe into store safety, in order to highlight the very real threats that employees in this sector can face.

The operation is in response to a growing number of injuries in the retail industry, with a 48 per cent increase in lost time as a result of injury in 2012/2013 and a 45 per cent jump the year before.

These rapid increases have prompted WorkSafe to carry out a series of inspections across these companies in order to identify and address risks in the workplace.

WorkSafe Director Joe Attard identified that injuries in this sector are increasingly severe and having a serious impact on how individuals can work.

“It is a cause for concern that more than a quarter of these injuries were classified as severe (resulting in 60 days/shifts or more off work), an 89 per cent rise in severe injuries between 2009/2010 and 2011/2012.”

The most high-risk activities that WorkSafe will be targeting include manual handling jobs, electrical issues and inadequate storage facilities. New workers and emergency procedures will also be a focus, in order to minimise the hazards that can arise in a busy commercial environment.

This latest campaign reveals the importance of addressing worker safety in customer-focused industries such as retail and hospitality. For Western Australian companies, cafe insurance and worker compensation insurance are going to be vital.

At the same time, it is important for businesses to take a hard look at their own operations. Rather than waiting for infringement notices from inspectors, companies need to be proactive in their approach if they want to reduce the number of accidents in the workplace.

Another tactic is to consider ways to improve your operations by having the right equipment and support for your employees so they aren’t at risk from heavy materials and dangerous conditions.

Reducing the risks posed by accidents in the workplace doesn’t have to be difficult and can help prevent injury-related absenteeism among your workers.

Author: Murray Bruce