Both employers and employees will welcome the release of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–22, announced on October 31 by minister for employment and workplace relations Bill Shorten.
The ten year strategy, published by Safe Work Australia, seeks to reduce the incidence of work-related death, illness and injury by improving work health and safety infrastructure.
The strategy’s introduction notes that 640,000 workers reported experiencing a work-related injury or illness in 2009-10, and the total cost to the Australian economy for the 2008-09 financial year was $60.6 billion, or 4.8 per cent of Australian gross domestic product.
Any reduction in the rate of injuries and illnesses sustained in the workplace will benefit the economy just as it will those Australians who contribute to it.
Workers and management have a stake in ensuring their places of work meet health and safety standards.
People employed in unsafe workplaces run the risk of catastrophic injury and subsequent loss of income during recovery, while their employers – if found negligent – may be liable to pay damages for loss of wages.
If you experience an injury or illness at your workplace, you can consult a personal injury lawyer if you feel you are due compensation.
Personal injury lawyers, some of whom work on a no win no fee basis, can examine your claim and fight on your behalf.
The government’s role is to ensure not only that health and safety standards are met, but that they evolve as the nature of work in Australia evolves and that businesses are able to remain compliant while keeping pace with technological and economic changes.
The strategy acknowledges that while there are costs associated with ensuring the safety of workplaces, the dangers of not doing so far outweigh the drawbacks and good work health and safety improves the long term productivity of Australian businesses.
John Watson, general manager of WorkCover NSW’s Work Health and Safety Division, welcomed the announcement and highlighted its significance for the state’s businesses.
“The introduction of harmonised workplace safety laws has already helped to reduce compliance issues and red tape for NSW employers and the strategy will be an important step in maintaining a robust safety framework,” he stated.
“Reducing injuries, illnesses and saving lives should always remain a priority in every workplace, and the strategy will help ensure regulators, industry, unions as well as the broader community will work together to achieve sustainable health and safety outcomes.”