OHS in your workplace

Every worker has a right to work in a safe environment and expect to come home from work in the same state of health as they left.

Health and safety laws have evolved in response to an employer failure to provide safe working conditions for all workers. While there are some employers who genuinely care for their workers, the reality is there are also employers who don’t.

The improvements to OHS laws over the past decade have been encouraging and more and more employers are starting to see the correlation between high standards of OHS and the organisations productivity. 

A brief history: 

There has always been an awareness of occupational health and safety since labourers and trades people recognised common injuries associated with their particular line of work.

Mining was deemed as a highly toxic and medically dangerous occupation with the discovery of the effects of sulphur and zinc. This saw the development of the facemask made from animal bladder to help protect workers from dust and lead fumes.

Specifically the mining industry has paved the way for the indoctrinating of OHS regulations.

The increase in accidents associated with appalling workplace conditions during the Industrial Resolution during the nineteenth century forced governments to regulate health and safety more stringently.

The focus began for hazardous and unsafe working conditions for women and children, and the simple methodology was to exclude them from these premises. Legislation then extended to concern not only their safety but also their moral welfare.

These rights and conditions were then extended to all workers which saw a workers compensation scheme in place.

Although progressive governments helped legislate OHS it was actually the workers represented by their unions who fought vigorously for improved health and safety conditions.

Why should OHS be a priority in your workplace?

Apart from the basic instinctive regard for our health and safety and that of others, there are many reasons for making OHS a priority in your workplace. They include:

  • Community expectations that organisations have a responsibility for those that work for them
  • Legal obligations
  • Insurable costs such as workers’ compensation premium that are linked to OHS performance
  • Non-insurable costs such as lost time injury and reduced productivity, staff replacement, retraining costs as well as loss of business reputation
  • Costs to the community, such as health services, rehabilitation and loss of skilled labour
  • Costs to employees through reduced quality of life as a result of workplace injury and disease, reduced income for the injured and their family and grief by everyone involved

Work related injury - the facts?

  • 640,700 people experienced a work-related injury or illness in 2009-10
  • The occupation groups with the highest rates of people who experienced a work-related injury or illness were Labourers (88 per 1,000 employed people), Machinery Operators and Drivers (86 per 1,000 employed people), Community and Personal Service Workers (84 per 1,000 employed people) and Technicians and Trades Workers (78 per 1,000 employed people)
  • Of the 640,700 people who experienced a work-related injury or illness, the most common types of injuries or illnesses sustained were sprains or strains (30%), followed by chronic joint or muscle conditions (18%), and cuts or open wounds (16%)
  • Of the 640,700 people who experienced a work-related injury in the last 12 months, 388,400, or 61%, received some sort of financial assistance. Of those who received financial assistance, 59% received workers' compensation, 36% did not apply for workers' compensation and 5% applied for and did not receive workers' compensation