This year alone, 132 Australians have been killed at work. What would you do if there was a serious workplace injury or even a death in your business?

While most businesses are focussed on meeting the bottom line, profits and growth aren’t achievable without a safe and healthy workforce. Business productivity should no longer be measured just by economic results but also the return on investment of good health and safety practices.

During National Safe Work Month in October, employers across Australia are encouraged to focus on what they can do to improve their workplace and encourage their staff to do the same.

Lead by example

While safety is the responsibility of all staff at all levels, if you own or manage a business it’s important for you to consider what you can do as a leader.

Strong leadership drives workplace culture and helps staff understand the behaviours and values expected of them. The policies and processes set by leaders and the way they follow them will support or undermine the health and safety culture of a business.

Here are some practical things business owners and managers can do to create a strong safety culture:

  • Set a target for your business to reduce workplace incidents.
  • Know the current regulations for your business and make sure you follow them.
  • Provide training for new staff and refresher training for existing staff.
  • Use the safest and most up-to-date equipment available for your industry.
  • Establish or review emergency procedures and conduct emergency drills.

Start a conversation

It’s important for all business owners and managers to consider the safety culture that currently exists in their business. Do you know how many near misses happen? Do you hear about them as quickly as you hear about actual incidents? Can your staff raise safety concerns without fear, discrimination or ridicule?

The more work health and safety is talked about, the more it becomes a normal part of business conversations and every day work life. To make the conversation a positive discussion about protecting your people every day, you could try:

  • Holding a forum where staff can raise health and safety concerns in an open and honest way.
  • Organising speakers from industry associations or professional bodies to present on the importance of work health and safety.
  • Encouraging staff to watch the Safe Work Australia online seminar series.

Learn from others

Businesses across Australia are working hard to ensure their staff are safe and healthy. Business owners and managers can talk to other employers in their industry and find out what policies and practices they have in place.

We can learn from Mars Petcare who leveraged the close friendships people share at work to encourage their staff to speak up if they see something unsafe. All staff committed to the idea that ‘mates make sure mates get home safe’.

Howe Farming is also dedicated to improving health and safety by coordinating daily stretches, holding sun safety presentations, emergency first aid information sessions and providing nutritious food in the canteen.

More case studies and a National Safe Work Month resource kit developed by Safe Work Australia can be found on the National Safe Work Month website.

Get rewarded

Safe Work Australia also offers a Workplace Participation Reward. to encourage businesses to think of new and creative ways to build awareness of health and safety during National Safe Work Month. Through the Reward, businesses can win a prize worth $5000 and the opportunity to showcase their safety story nationally.

This month, think about what aspects of your business could be made safer and how you can help staff to be healthier. Have a conversation, share stories and raise awareness, because talking about safety can save lives.

Find out more at National Safe Work Month.