SafeWork NSW is calling for small and large businesses across the North West to take part in its 2017 Mentor Program.

The Mentor Program is a free SafeWork NSW program which involves experienced businesses helping small businesses to identify new ways to address safety.

SafeWork is piloting a new approach to the Program in the North West where mentors and mentees from the across this region will be paired together with the aim of making mentors more accessible and expanding the reach of the Program.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said the Mentor Program not only enables small businesses to improve safety but also improve competitiveness and productivity.

“Finding time to focus on safety and make improvements can be a challenge for a small business, particularly in regional NSW,” Mr Dunphy said.

“The Mentor Program brings experienced safety experts and small businesses together to create new and innovative ways of tackling safety in the workplace.

“The Program is open to all businesses in the North West but we are particularly keen to support farmers and businesses in the agriculture sector that want to improve farm safety and keep their families safe.”

The Program, which commences in March 2017, generally runs for three to six months and can fit around mentors and mentees’ work schedules.

Since 2006, more than 400 businesses have participated in the Mentor Program with more than 90 per cent of mentees saying they improved work health and safety in their business.

Teys Australia and Tufrey's Concreting & Plastering from Tamworth are two North West businesses that have participated in the Program previously.

Teys’ WHS Manager, Tony Dean was appointed Tufrey's mentor and helped them refine their safety system.

"I joined the program because I am keen to support small business in our local community,” Mr Dean said.

Tufrey's Concreting & Plastering Office Manager, Allison Faulkner said it was great to get a local with work health and safety experience to support them.

“The Mentor Program helped us improve consultation processes with our workers, and introduce improved signage,” Ms Faulkner said.

“We’re so glad we joined the Program.”

Mentors and mentees have one-on-one conversations and onsite visits as well as participate in free SafeWork advisory and educational sessions across a variety of safety and injury management topics.

SafeWork is seeking experienced business professionals in the North West with an interest and expertise in proactive workplace health and safety to act as mentors for the 2017 SafeWork NSW Mentor Program.

To qualify as a mentee, a business must employ less than 20 full-time workers or equivalent. Mentees are also eligible to apply for a $500 rebate after making a safety improvement in their workplace through SafeWork’s Small Business Rebate Program.

The pilot is supported by Northern Safety Network, Tamworth Business Chamber and NSW Farmers.

Applications are open but places are limited. Find out more or apply today by calling 13 10 50 or visiting safework.nsw.gov.au.

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