As with other regional and remote areas across Australia, businesses in regional New South Wales (NSW) face work health and safety and return to work issues specific to their location.
WorkCover NSW used an evidence-based approach to identify regional priorities. It examined the risks associated with particular industries and those that may be seasonal in nature.
WorkCover NSW's regional community focus ensured resources, capability and leadership positions were aligned to a regional area's needs.
This focus included:
- understanding regional workplace health and safety and return to work issues to deliver tailored responses and local solutions
- working directly with businesses to help them eliminate or minimise their hazards and risks, and
- conducting workshops, providing education, advice and undertaking onsite visits with businesses.
An example of the outcomes from this approach was a project focusing on the meat processing industry in regional NSW. This industry is primarily based in a rural/regional setting and was identified as experiencing high rates of injury and illness. The project evaluation showed that following the efforts of WorkCover NSW, businesses and other participants had increased their knowledge about the hazards and risks in their industry and how to manage those risks.
Based on the success of the regional community focus in South West NSW in 2012, the project was expanded into North West NSW.
To support this project, the Australian Meat Industry Council entered into a WorkCover NSW Partnership Agreement. These are designed to foster relationships with between WorkCover NSW and industry associations and peak unions, to achieve safer workplaces, effective recovery, return to work and security for injured workers.
This partnership is now being evaluated with the possibility of renewal.
For more information on the WorkCover NSW's regional focus visit the WorkCover NSW website.