Key Points:

Safety Month is the perfect opportunity for employers to tackle WH&S issues head on and show that they are committed to ensuring that all of their workers get home safely.

October is Safety Month throughout Australia, and that gives all employers the chance to reflect on safety and protect their number one asset – their people!

The purpose of Safety Month is to raise awareness about work health and safety and to encourage workers to speak up about hazards – it can save lives.

Safe Work Australia has advised that this year's theme is Work Safe, Home Safe and it aims to "remind us that our most important reason for staying safe at work is not work at all – we all want to go home safely to our family, friends and loved ones".

How safe are Australian workplaces?

The 2014 Key Work Health and Safety Statistics report from Safe Work Australia states that in 2011-2012 there were 128 050 serious workers' compensation claims (serious claims involve a death, permanent incapacity or requiring an absence of one working week or more). This equals about 12.2 serious claims per 1000 employees.

That is a lot of people who have gone to work one day but didn't get to return home safely.

What can you do to improve safety?

Safety Month is the perfect opportunity for employers to tackle these issues head on and show that they are committed to ensuring that all of their workers get home safely.

Even small changes can make a large difference. These could range from spending a few minutes spotting hazards, providing refresher safety training, reviewing safety procedures to evaluate compliance with obligations, or even just encouraging workers to speak up about health and safety issues.

For more detailed suggestions about what you can do to comply with your obligations, please see our Checklist of Due Diligence Requirements for Company Officers.

Key focus areas that create the most risk continue to be:

  • contractor management;
  • vehicles;
  • young and inexperienced workers;
  • electrical hazards;
  • drugs and alcohol; and
  • fitness for work.

Although these steps are simple, they could make the difference that may save the life of an employee.