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The Real Cost of Safety

Industrial safety practices have come a long way in the last decade to the point where it’s now much more than about preventing injuries. Sure, prevention should and always will be the main consideration but individuals and companies are now realising that strong safety procedures can help build a reputation and help avoid significant fines in the process.

As Aussies, we can be an argumentative mob and we’ve got plenty of things to disagree on – Ford vs. Holden, Blues vs. Maroons, Steak vs. Parma – and these topics are great to debate with workmates after a long week on the job.

But there’s one thing that every industrial worker – and every industrial employer – will agree on and that’s the importance of safety in the workplace. While safety should be a top priority for each and every worker in itself, there are a whole range of benefits that can follow on from taking health and safety seriously.
So what impact can a strong approach to OH&S have for yourself and your business? “

  1. Safety is about reputation
    Whether you’re a stand-alone contractor, a specialist or a business looking for future work, your safety record and the respect you show OH&S goes a long way in demonstrating your commitment to safety.Building a brand and reputation for yourself or your business is as much about the attitude you bring to the job, as it is the quality and speciality of your workmanship. At the end of the day, current and future customers are looking to build relationships with businesses that share their values about, and obligation to safety.
  2. Safety standards are always changing
    Australian health and safety regulations are fluid – they are constantly evolving and reflecting advancements in technology and the expectations of society.As these goal posts shift, we all need to be aware of our obligations and requirements to ourselves and our workplace. Make it part of your brand to understand and implement the most up-to-date safety practices and educate those around you in understanding their responsibilities.Information resources such as Safe Work Australia and state based Worksafe websites (for example www.worksafe.nt.gov.au) are good sources of up-to-date information about general and industry-specific health and safety issues.
  3. Unsafe practices will cost you
    We’ve all heard horror stories of the damage that can be caused by unsafe work practices. When you’re working on a big project, there are going to be millions of dollars on the line that you could be responsible for if an accident does occur.In fact, the maximum fine that a company can face for a category one offence such as the death of a worker is $3 million, while individuals can face a maximum fine of $300,000 or three years in jail. And authorities have absolutely no hesitation in prosecuting those that are found to be in breach of the OHS act.In recent years, two Victorian companies were fined a total of $450,000 in the County Court over the death of a worker who fell 40 meters when a crane rig collapsed on a Melbourne construction site. According to www.worksafenews.com.au, the worker was asked to prepare the rig but was unfamiliar with its controls and had never installed, or been trained in how to install the leader extension which was to be fitted to the mast. Despite raising concerns with his supervisor, preparation work continued and 10 of the 16 bolts needed to secure the leader extension to the rig were found not to be fitted.Imagine what a $450,000 fine would do to you or your business – not to mention how you’d feel knowing you were responsible for the death of a colleague and friend?
    Prevention of workplace injury is no doubt the core of workplace safety but non-compliance has a fair wider reaching impact – and it’s an impact that smart workers and smart businesses avoid.