To Be a Safety Champion is to be a leader for work health and safety within an organisation or industry. We all have a responsibility and duty for building a safe and healthy workplace so we can get home safe to our families.
Anyone can be a safety champion and promote best practice work health and safety initiatives at work.
You may find the information below useful to champion the importance of promoting work health and safety at your workplace.
Work health and safety responsibilities
We all have a duty and responsibility to build a safe and healthy workplace.
The Commonwealth, states and territories in Australia are responsible for regulating and enforcing the WHS laws in their jurisdictions. These regulations and rules can vary between states and territories—so it is important to check with your local regulator for information specific to your state.
Duties at work
Every person in a workplace has a duty in relation to the safety there, including:
- The Person Conducting a Business or undertaking (PCBU)—is a company or an individual who is responsible for running a business or workplace. PCBU’s must ensure the health and safety of its workers and that other people are not put at risk from its work, so far as is reasonably practicable.
- Officers—are generally people who make, or participate in making, significant decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part, of a business, or people who have the capacity to significantly affect a business’ financial standing. They have a duty to be proactive and exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with their duties.
- Workers— are anyone who carries out work for a business or undertaking. They have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and ensure their actions do not negatively affect the health and safety of others. They must comply with reasonable instructions, policies and procedures relating to health and safety as much as they are reasonably able.
- Other persons at the workplace—have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and ensure their actions do not negatively affect the health and safety of others. They must comply with reasonable safety instructions as much as they are reasonably able.
Work health and safety laws
Safe Work Australia is responsible for the development and evaluation of the model WHS laws.
The model WHS laws have been implemented in all jurisdictions except Western Australia (WA) and Victoria, although these jurisdictions have similar regulatory frameworks.
The laws vary to some extent between jurisdictions, so it is important to make sure you always consider the WHS laws that apply in your state or territory.
The latest data
Safe Work Australia compiles key national data sets on work-related fatalities and workers’ compensation claims.
Our statistics and research help to provide evidence to inform WHS and workers’ compensation policy and practice. This evidence also helps us develop policy to reduce the numbers of work-related death, injury or illness.
Work-related traumatic injury fatalities have been trending down over the past decade, with the rate of workers fatally injured at work halving from the peak of 3.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2007, to 1.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2017.
Injuries have also been decreasing, with the incidence rate of serious compensation claims for work-related injuries and illnesses having declined from 16.3 serious claims per 1,000 employees in 2000-2001 to 9.5 serious claims per 1,000 employees in 2015-16.
While the downward trend in work-related deaths, injuries and illness is positive, there is still more work to be done to reduce these numbers even further.
Health and safety by industry and business
Returning to work after injury or illness
Returning to work after injury or illness is an important part of helping injured workers with their recovery. It can include:
- early and ongoing contact with a supervisor or manager
- an effective workplace rehabilitation program and individual return to work plans
- reasonable adjustments to the workers’ duties or working arrangements
- assistance during the claims process
- cooperation, consultation and coordination between all parties.
Working safely, in your language
It is important for all of us to understand our responsibilities and how we can work safely. Our Working safely in Australia information sheets in 22 languages provide information about working safely in Australia. Including:
- employer and worker responsibilities to manage work health and safety
- a checklist for new workers to use when starting a new job
- a list of government work health and safety and workers’ compensation contacts.
Good work design
- the work
- work systems
- the physical working environment
- the workers.
Taking into account these things can help improve performance, job satisfaction and productivity.
Read our Handbook – Principles of Good Work Design to learn about the ten principles to good work design.
Hierarchy of control
The hierarchy of control measures can help you identify ways to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety. Duty holders should work through this hierarchy when managing health and safety risks.
The most effective control is to eliminate the risk. However, if that is not reasonably practicable you can work through the hierarchy to find the most effective measure or measures for minimising the risk.
A risk is the possibility that harm – death, injury or illness – might occur when exposed to a hazard.
A hazard is a situation or thing that has the potential to harm a person. Hazards at work may include noisy machinery, a moving forklift, chemicals, electricity, working at height, a repetitive job, and bullying and violence.