In any situation where legal requirements are involved, there is room to talk about the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law. This is particularly true when it comes to safety in the workplace.
Among organisations, there are two major camps: those that actively promote a culture of well-being, and those that just wish to fulfil their obligations under applicable legislation. The former camp practices real workplace health and safety and will undoubtedly see true value from such a philosophy.
At Line Management Institute of Technology, we firmly believe in the value of proactivity and creating a truly safe working environment – a goal that starts with effective work health and safety training.
Safe or safe enough?
There is a massive difference between being a workplace that is safe enough to just meet regulatory standards, and one that is ingrained with a true culture of safety.
Merely complying with regulations is not the same as fostering a truly safe working environment.
Ken Golden is a firm believer in the importance of workplace health and safety. With 20 years of experience in the field, he has valuable insight on the value that comprehensive training can provide to an organisation. He is also the designer and lead trainer for many of our safety courses at LMIT.
"A good safety system is more than policies or procedures, it's about having people trained, with the right attitude," Ken says.
"If you've got that, then the potential is that you've got less injuries. If you've got less injuries you've got more productivity and you have got higher profits because you are not losing money because of injuries, medical rehabilitation and all that sort of stuff."
With the benefits that follow from this level of attentiveness, organisations can ensure that all employees are truly safe, not just safe enough.
Indifference in the organisation
One of the most significant obstacles to achieving this, however, is organisations that are too complacent in their approach to risk management.
"I have spoken to many business leaders who ask, "How many WHS Inspectors are there in Queensland?" Ken remarks.
"No matter what my response, they always seem to conclude, "Well, I have been in business for 20 years and not seen one, so thanks for the advice, but we are okay."
This mentality is common in workplaces that are focused on compliance over commitment to employee well-being. This is an approach that significantly increases risk.
"Short-sightedness is an accident waiting to happen," Ken observes.
The role of the health and safety representative
One of the most important resources employees have at their disposal for ensuring their own protection in the workplace is the health and safety representative (HSR). Established under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, HSRs encourage best practices and can offer consultations for their work group.
HSRs must know how to apply legislation intercede on their coworkers' behalf.
Effectively fulfilling this role, however, requires the right education. Delegates selected as HSRs must be familiar with relevant legislation, how to apply it to their workplace and how they can best intercede on their coworkers' behalf to mitigate the risk of incidents.
LMIT's five-day Health and Safety Representatives course can give these workers the skills they need to be an advocate for safety in their organisations.
The certification from this course lasts for a year, after which it must be refreshed in a one-day session every 12 months.
The business case for active safety
Following best practices for workplace health and safety and providing for HSR training is not just good for an organisation's culture; there are financial benefits as well.
"I understand the competing demands in running a business, and I can see that there is only a limited amount of resources – and people have got to make a profit," Ken says.
"At the end of the day, you are not making a profit if people are injured and you are paying workers' compensations, you've got a worker off work, you're employing a temp that covers for them or you get investigated because of the legislation compliance. So, the competitive edge for me is – if I am working safer and working smarter, then I've got to be making more money than the person down the street."
It is important to also recognise that safety training is very similar to insurance from a cost-benefit perspective. It's a mistake to look at the price of training balanced against the cost of no incidents occurring. Instead, compare that cost to how much an incident would cost an organisation. That's what training and promoting a true culture of safety is really worth.
The foundation of real workplace safety is appropriate and effective training. Get in touch with us today to learn about the various opportunities available through LMIT.
Published by: LMIT