Worker imageIn recent years small businesses  within construction services, such as electrical services, have both the highest claim  rate within the construction sector and the highest risk status of all small businesses  in Queensland.

To reduce these work-related injuries Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) have developed a new Industry Partnership Program which aims to increase  businesses’ productivity, reliability, and reputation through improved work health  and safety.

Early in 2014 WHSQ partnered with Master Electricians Australia (MEA) to deliver the pilot program to small electrical businesses throughout Queensland. By partnering with industry groups like MEA, the resources of both organisations are utilised to provide targeted services  and tools to small businesses.

The program was available to all small electrical businesses regardless of membership of industry associations.

The first stage of the program was a workshop on how  to develop a basic safety management system. Using scenarios and activities relevant to the electrical industry, the workshop covers topics such as:

  • risk management
  • Safe Work Method Statements
  • hazardous manual  tasks, and
  • consultation.

Under  the program framework participants develop a simple action plan identifying areas needing attention. Advisors can then  visit the electricians on site to help implement the action plan, and provide future services  such as individual support or group coaching sessions as needed.

WHSQ Small Business Safety Advisors and MEA Safety and Operations Co-ordinators have conducted three  pilot workshops with most participants being  sole traders and business owners employing fewer than ten people.

Prior to the workshop:

  • Around 65 per cent  of participants reported that  safety management systems were  either  being  developed, or were  developed but not well implemented in their current workplace.

After the workshop:

  • Around 75 per cent  of attendees reported that their  practical understanding of how  to implement safety management systems had increased and they  intended to develop action plans for improving and implementing safety management systems.
  • A similar  proportion of attendees also said they  intended to participate further in the partnership program.

Malcolm Richards, CEO of Master Electricians Australia, considers the program a good opportunity for the electrical industry.

Master Electricians Australia's mission  is to champion safety in the electrical industry,” said Mr Richards. “We view this Industry Partnership Program as a great tool to assist in lifting the level of understanding of work health and safety requirements for small to medium sized electrical businesses across Queensland.”

Valuable feedback from the pilot workshops was used to improve the materials and approach used. Places for the second round of five workshops filled  within one week and additional workshops were scheduled to meet demand in some locations. WHSQ and MEA view  this as an indication that the program met a need for targeted and simple  tools for small businesses  in Queensland.

With the pilot program complete WHSQ are delivering this program to other industries. For more  information visit theWorkplace Health and Safety Queensland website or call 1300 369 915.

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