Don’t be an organisation that normalises WHS risks

"Employers in small construction firms tend to consider occupational risk management as the personal responsibility of the worker and failures in WHS outcomes as attributable to personal carelessness or a lack of knowledge or experience." (Lingard and Holmes 2001; Lingard 2000)

Normalising workplace health and safety (WHS) risks is easy to unintentionally do. Accidents happen in the workplace, and whilst some may be attributable to carelessness or lack of knowledge, it isn't an excuse for these risks to go unaddressed.

The review and analysis of all workplace accidents should be carefully undertaken, and where necessary protocols and interventions should be put in place to minimise the potential for risk or failure.

Driving is the highest rating WHS risk that employees face. With over 33% of all occupational fatalities in Australia as a result of road crashes. This figure is even more relevant when "80% of organisations believe their safety record could be improved" (Queensland Government Transport - Workplace Fleet Safety).

So what can you as an organisation do to minimise WHS risk and avoid normalising safety risks such as minor car accidents or workplace incidents that could otherwise be chalked up to personal carelessness or lack of knowledge or experience?

1. Introduce telematics into your fleet.

The introduction of telematics has seen fleets reduce the number of incidents by up to 80%. Introducing telematics into your fleet is the first step in understanding and visualising the risks being faced and looking at ways you can track and minimise them.

2. Implement a driver behaviour program.

Rather than use telematics as the stick, consider ways you can use it to create a culture of safety and re-enforcement of positive behaviour. Reward drivers who are outperforming their peers in driver safety behaviour and where needed notify drivers of where they are creating undue risk so that they can reflect upon and change their behaviour.

3. Form a culture of awareness and risk minimisation

Keep your staff on their toes and helping to drive changes in their own safety by helping develop a culture that makes staff aware of risks and methods to minimise potential risks. By taking every risk and safety concern seriously, risk won't be normalised and safety will be a primary concern all the way through the organisation.

4. Record and address every workplace incident

Don't let workplace incidents go under the radar. Make sure that every workplace incident is recorded and addressed in a manner that will minimise the risk of it being repeated in the future. Once addressed, ensure that you're continually training your staff around these risks and making staff aware of new policies and procedures that are being introduced for their safety.

5. Supporting and communicating with those that have a workplace incident

WHS risks will still become normalised unless staff feel supported by their employer and safe to report risks and incidents to their employer. Workplaces that are unsupportive of those who injure themselves in the workplace are unlikely to have all incidents reported to them for fear of job security and other negative consequences. By providing an environment that provides security and support in the event of an incident, staff are likely to report all incidents - big or small, ensuring your organisation is aware and able to mitigate all these WHS risks.

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