Are you safe?

Paul Egan

Again this week we see the headlines containing the death of a worker. In this case it is an apprentice that has been on the factory site for only 12 days before he was killed working in a confined space. It has been reported that a worksafe inspector was apparently on site at the time of the accident and a risk assessment had identified the lack of safety procedures around working in confined spaces.

There are a number of things that both employers and employees can do to ensure that their work environment is safe for such occurrences. There are often a number of failures that lead to an incident in the work place. However sometimes it is just one main error – and in my view that is a general lack of appropriate concern for ensuring that a safe environment exists.

We have all been on the sites where there are multiple sign displaying the message that “safety is everyone’s responsibility” only to be confronted with a situation where the need for speed or to cut costs or because it is inconvenient, increases a risk of disaster. Even sometimes everyone is oblivious to the notices and the signage is ignored because the culture is not consistent with the message.

These days will come to an end. The move has already started with the Queensland laws providing for industrial manslaughter charges carrying imprisonment terms and significant fines. This will become the norm – and everyone needs to be aware of their responsibility. It is a disgrace that it takes the legal position to enforce work place safety. It is every workers (and employers) moral duty to ensure that they and their fellow workers are safe from harm.

Where do your stand on this issue. If you are an employer there are great benefits in both employee satisfaction and financial terms (reduced injury cost / reduced workers insurance cost / reduced time lost to workers injury absences) in having a safe and efficient work place. It is therefore not a cost but a necessary benefit for the improvement in profitability and productivity.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend employing a work, health, safety and wellbeing specialist to review or even establish your procedures before it is too late. If you don’t have an in-house expert there are lots of suitable consultants that can provide the service and give you peace of mind. And if you are an employee speak up of you have concerns – if you are not listened and it’s critical, don’t end up like poor apprentice in the recent tragic case, take drastic measures and move as it could save your own life.

Think safety, act safely and it may just keep you and your fellow workers safe.

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