Noggin Commemorates National Safe Work Month
What is National Safe Work Month?
It’s October again. And October means National Safe Work Month, a time to commit to building a safe and healthy workplace.
An initiative of Australia’s safety regulator, Safe Work Australia, National Safe Work Month gives employers and workers alike the opportunity to commit to safe and healthy workplaces around the country.
This year’s theme is “think safe.work safe.be safe.” And it’s never been more important for organisations to plan and implement the work health and safety procedures that would bring that theme to life.
How to operationalise the themes of National Safe Work Month
How can they do it? Well, understanding the risks that impact workplace health and safety and striving to improve duty of care in workplace health and safety is a good start. As Safe Work Australia notes, being healthy and safe at work means being free from physical and psychological harm. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the escalating climate crisis, as well as traditional work safety risks make removing hazards affecting health and safety exponentially more difficult. Difficult but not impossible.
As we’ve noted before, the pandemic might have exacerbated physical and psychosocial risks, but reordering safety priorities in the age of COVID-19, in fulfilment of the mission of National Safe Work Month, is quite possible. In defining this year’s theme, Safe Work Australia itself provides a rough blueprint. It includes:
- Think safe is the first step to thinking about work health and safety, which covers the planning and forethought that Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) (such as employers and small business owners) must do to identify risks and maintain healthy and safe workplaces.
- Work safe is about implementing work health and safety measures to manage risks including the practical steps you can take to reduce risk and avoid workplace incidents.
- Be safe considers the ongoing process of managing and monitoring work health and safety risks – it is not a one off.
Some simple measures can help, as well. On the increasingly important mental health front, for instance, having senior management intervene to clarify the importance of workplace mental health and wellbeing aids in developing mentally healthy workforces. Leadership must also be committed to providing support to get wellbeing programs off the ground or to take existing programs to the next level.
To this end, leadership can deputise wellbeing committees, including representatives from Safety and HR, to conduct situational analyses of the current state of wellbeing in the workplace. Measurement tools available to such committees might include data coming from or related to:
- Sickness absence
- Work-related psychological injuries
- Return to work rates
- Exit interviews
- Staff turnover rates
- Audits of existing mental health policies and procedures
- Focus groups of employees
- Surveys of employee engagement
- Audits of existing leadership and management training
- Examinations of the mental health strategies of similar organisations
- External expert advice and best practices from psychologically healthy workplace programs
- Recognition of upcoming organisational change
Gathering and synthesising that data is only a first step, however – the “think safe”. With the blessing of senior leadership, wellbeing committees must then abstract from the data to identify and implement the appropriate intervention strategies for the workplace – the “work safe”.
Organisations shouldn’t simply implement interventions without follow up, though. Committees must review outcomes and adjust intervention strategies along the way to “be safe”.
Certain digital safety management solutions can help employers, too, whether they are responding to mental health and wellbeing (as well as broader safety) events, implementing and tracking proactive initiatives to support personnel, and/or better understanding opportunities for safety improvement.
Finally, our safety crisis moment makes initiatives like National Safe Work more important than ever. As such, planning, executing, and refining the appropriate safety strategies, in tandem with investing in advanced safety technologies, such as Noggin, can only help employers in the present at-risk environment better promote safety resilience, reduce compliance and injury risk, as well as boost productivity, engagement, and morale.