Our first six months

It’s already six months since the launch of the work health and safety roadmap for NSW 2022 (the roadmap) and we’ve made great progress on a number of activities.

Keep reading for a snapshot of what we’ve achieved towards our goal of a 20 per cent decline in worker fatalities, a 30 per cent decline in serious injuries and illnesses, and a 30 per cent reduction in serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses by 2022.

Businesses across the state are already committing to elements of the Roadmap. Visit our website to see how Ryde Council are already making improvements to their workplace. If you’d like to share your own story, email us at editor@safework.nsw.gov.au.

Action area one: Embed the health and safety landscape in NSW workplaces

SafeWork NSW launched a major multimedia campaign Safety Starts with You in February. This is the start of a three-year campaign to raise awareness of the importance of safety at work, and to help NSW businesses improve their safety culture.

We have also:

  • begun working with the Fish Market Authority to build worker capability and improve WHS systems and practices. For example an ergonomic assessments of fish crates and their storage has been conducted.
  • created a new Stakeholder Action Plan template (used to establish short term partnerships with medium to large businesses) aligned to the Roadmap. This action plan helps to identify direct connections between the organisation’s WHS systems and the five key elements of the health and safety landscape. This is believed to be a first for a WHS regulator. Stakeholders can now co-deliver the actions articulated in the Roadmap and do their part to achieve the 2022 targets for their specific industry and workplace.
  • The 2017 Mentor Program was launched and included the official release of the new Mentor photo book, which showcases stories and safety tips from participants.
  • Made progress with the Consultation@Work Project. A Strategy and Project Plan have been completed and the team is developing inspector training and best practice consultation videos.
  • The Safety Promise initiativewas launched on the 20th March as part of the Safety Starts with You Campaign. This is designed to help NSW businesses take a simple step towards improving their safety culture.

Action area two: Prioritise sectors, harms, workers and workplaces

Recent activities undertaken in high risk areas include:

  • We are developing baseline data which will help inform the development of plans to address high risk sectors, harms and at risk workers. In some sectors, such as agriculture, project teams have already been established. For the Government sector, consultation workshops with stakeholders have been held.
  • The NSW Quad Bike Improvement Program has been well-received by farming communities, with particular interest in rebates for safer side-by-side vehicles, helmets and operator protective devices. The rebate has been doubled from $500 to $1000. Tocal College has also partnered with SafeWork NSW to deliver 100 quad bike training courses across NSW.
  • In conjunction with NSW Farmers Association and the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, SafeWork NSW has commissioned an induction guide for fruit farm workers in the seven most common languages of the international horticulture workforce in NSW.
  • Public PErforM workshops, designed to improve capability to manage hazardous manual tasks in the workplace, are helping to reduce musculoskeletal disorders in the supermarket and grocery industry.
  • As part of the implementation of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy we have held consultation sessions with key stakeholders to gain their input, expertise, and support. There was a diverse mix of stakeholders in attendance, including Government Department representatives, employee representatives, not for profit organisations and academics. Feedback from the day has been collated and applied to the Strategy.

What’s next?

  • We are kicking off the consultation phase for some high risk sector plans. It is expected that workshops for each sector will be held in the coming months.
  • Development of potential initiatives for at-risk worker groups (ie young workers, labour hire, migrant and CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) workers) will commence, with stakeholder consultation beginning in March.

Action area three: Build exemplary regulatory services

Crucial to support the delivery of the first two action areas is how we as SafeWork NSW will improve and change our frameworks and approaches. We have:

  • finalised consultation on the draft Enforceable Undertakings Customer Service Standard which will provide clarity to employees and customers about service level expectations.
  • joined the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner on a pilot program aimed at helping small businesses improve their consultation practices
  • commenced research to design the Roadmap Evaluation Framework, including gathering ideas from our key stakeholders.
  • officially commenced the Tree Works Project in March. This is an extensive engagement and compliance program as part of the Commerce Regulation Program, in collaboration with the State Insurance Regulatory Authority and NSW Fair Trading. The project involves inspectors visiting 150 PCBUs and targeting risk management practices, maintenance of plant, workers compensation and sun safety. Each organisational representative brings expertise in their specific area, such as governance, solutions delivery and technical advice.
  • undertaken public consultation for the statutory review of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in late 2016. 39 submissions were received and these are now in the final stages of consideration.
  • launched a joint project with WorkSafe ACT to reduce cross–border red tape, while ensuring more productive, healthy and safe construction sites. The project aims to increase harmonisation and collaboration between jurisdictions at a number of levels to create a cultural change in the construction industry. Joint inspector compliance visits build on-ground professional relationships, develop a consistent approach on what compliance looks like and develop a consistent approach to enforcement.

What’s next?

  • The NSW Government will consider the draft report of the statutory review for the WHS Act and approve the drafting of any agreed amendments to the Act.

As always we appreciate the support of our stakeholders throughout NSW. If you haven’t already done so, now is the perfect time to familiarise yourself with the WHS Roadmap NSW 2022.

Peter Dunphy

Executive Director

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