National Work Safe Month, October 2020

It sure has been quite a year for health, safety, and hygiene! It has also been a big year for prosecutions for WHS breaches and fatalities with the first industrial manslaughter case successfully prosecuted in Queensland along with the Dreamworld court case.

October is National Work Safe Month and while it’s traditionally a time for raising awareness of safety issues, this year it’s a great time to reflect on the year that is 2020 and how the workplace has intrinsically changed. We experienced many business shutdowns, the associated mental health impacts, a major shift to working from home and increased emphasis on personal and workplace hygiene. While the word has been used to exhaustion (right up there with ‘unprecedented’), we have all had to constantly pivot to keep our businesses and industry alive. I’d love to get your feedback on what the most challenging safety and compliance aspects were from COVID-19 and how you adapted.

That agility and flexibility to adapt to the ever changing COVID environment is a huge learning curve for all of us into the future. There won’t be a return to 100% pre-COVID business as usual. There will be a new normal that will have its challenges but also benefits.

In your workplace, what can be done better, smarter, or more efficiently? Can we make some of our internal bureaucracy obsolete to expedite decision making and promote leadership amongst teams? Can you use better technology to help streamline reporting and data capturing? With the need to do more with less staff in the workplace, what cross-training and skilling opportunities have been uncovered and implemented in your venue?

Support structures have been so vitally important over the last few months. Psychological wellbeing is the major focus of Week 2 of Safe Work Month and there are great resources on the Safe Work Australia website.  How have you looked after the psychological safety and wellbeing of your staff (and yourself) through COVID?

If you are doing different things in your venue, make sure that you are capturing the new or altered tasks and all the controls needed to make it as safe as possible in a risk assessment. Staff are to be consulted in the risk assessment process. Communicate the controls required for these new tasks and make sure they are effective.

So while this has been the most tumultuous year in recent history, we need to take the good lessons and growth opportunities gleaned from all the unprecedented pivoting and adapting and make our venues as safe, hygienic and mentally well as possible.

For further information contact Michelle Pitman, DWS Safety & Compliance Advisor on 0401 014 619 or michelle@dws.net.au


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