Workplace injuries and illness especially in small communities can have a devastating ripple effect. A workplace injury doesn’t just affect a worker and his or her family. It also affects co-workers, the viability of the business which employed them and the community in which they live.
Small business can find it challenging dedicating resources to solving work health and safety problems while also concentrating on their day-to-day business needs. They often struggle to get timely and affordable access to trustworthy health and safety advice.
WorkCover NSW is helping businesses in regional NSW to improve their work health and safety and promoting economic growth through the Safer Communities Safer Towns Initiative. They are offering small business safety rebates, and free practical advice tailored to suit the special needs of businesses in small towns.
WorkCover NSW partners with other NSW government departments including the Small Business Commissioner through Small Biz Connect to streamline services, and to reach more young workers and businesses. It also partners with neighbouring safety regulators through the Cross-Border Commissioner to help ensure there is consistency in approach across state borders.
The Safer Communities Safer Towns Initiative had a wide range of activities specifically designed for the business profile of each area. The WorkCover NSW safety bus and trailer allows the advisors to provide face to face support to regional communities where there are no regional offices.
Some services include:
- support for return to work and injury management systems
- visits to wood product manufacturing, road freight transport and sheep and beef cattle businesses to promote relevant programs and safety improvement rebates
- help with workers’ compensation obligations
- field audits on equipment and activities where an accident can cause very serious consequences, like amusement devices, asbestos removal and hazardous goods storage
- attending agricultural field days to promote the sheep and beef cattle project and quad bike safety, and
- after hours advisory sessions.
During 2013–14 a number of Safer Communities Safer Towns events took place throughout NSW including in Coonabarabran, Bingara, Kandos, Comboyne, Warialda, Oberon, Hay, Grenfell, Thirroul, Condobolin, Tumbarumba, Shoalhaven, Dubbo, Orange, Illawarra, Nowra, Crookwell, Griffith, Moruya, Helensburgh, Coonamble, Temora, Mogo Gilgandra, Dunedoo, Coolah and Wellington. Advance promotion of these visits to key government and industry stakeholders and to the broader community helped people know when the visits were occurring in their town.
WorkCover NSW holds presentations including at local shopping centres, runs workshops and field day stands and inspector assistance visits. They also distribute free small business safety packs with information on the small business safety rebate.
The initiative also focusses on engagement with not-for-profit, non-English speaking, refugee and indigenous associations.
The Safer Communities Safer Towns Initiative is an ongoing program of work and in 2014-15 will be rolling out to more regional areas and into metropolitan Sydney. For more information on practical workplace safety or resources for small business call 13 10 50 or visit the WorkCover NSW website.