October is National Safe Work Month – who’s your safety champion?
Workplace health and safety is an important consideration in any sector or industry, but especially so in early childhood education and care (ECEC), with research showing that rather than experiencing a decline, the number of serious claims within the sector rose 10 per cent over the 17 years to 2017, and continues to grow.
Between the five years from 2010 to 2015, one in every 1,400 full-time employees made a claim for a mental health condition resulting from workplace exposure to psychological hazard. Of those claims, 41 per cent were caused by harassment, bullying or exposure to violence, which is of interest to the ECEC sector in light of the 40 per cent of ECEC employees who have experienced workplace bullying.
Psychological injury claims – that is, claims relating to mental health conditions – are usually associated with an above average time away from work, and higher than average claim costs. Statistics from SafeWork Australia show that the typical compensation payment per claim was $24,500, compared with $9,000 for all claim types. Mental health claims typically result in 15.3 weeks away from work, compared to 5.5 weeks for all claim types, SafeWork said.
National Safe Work Month is held annually to raise awareness around workplace safety, and to encourage employers and employees to commit to building safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians.
The 2019 theme is “Be a Safety Champion” and Safe Work Australia CEO Michelle Baxter said she would like to “invite everyone to promote best practice work health and safety initiatives at their workplace”.
“During National Safe Work Month we want to recognise that workers, employees, managers, supervisors, teams and organisations can all be safety champions.
“It doesn’t matter what sector or industry you work in, what role you do, whether you act as an individual or work as a team. We can all actively promote work health and safety,” she added.
Safe Work Australia has developed a range of resources to promote the campaign including customisable posters, a digital brand kit, flyers, web graphics and infographics.
There is also information on what is happening in each state and territory for people who would like to participate in a local event.
The resources available on the Safe Work Australia website will assist all workplaces to participate in National Safe Work Month and promote the Be a Safety Champion theme.
During the month, Safe Work Australia will also launch videos, and encouraged those interested to keep an eye out on the Safe Work Australia website and social media channels. Using the hashtag #safetychampion will enable those workplaces with a champion to share their safety initiatives.
“This October everyone can be champions for work health and safety — we can all build a more positive work health and safety culture,” Ms Baxter said in closing.