Some 132 Australian employees have lost their lives at work so far this year, according to SafeWork Australia. Though this is six fewer deaths than at the same time in 2015, any number of preventable deaths is a stark reminder of the need for health and safety precautions in the workplace.
To help prevent accidents and injury in the workplace, health and safety laws are continually being put into place to ensure that Australia's employees can go about their day-to-day tasks with minimal risk. There are a myriad of reasons skilled, experienced health and safety professionals will always be in demand.
Accidents can happen just about anywhere, especially if insufficient WHS measures are in place.
1. There will always be WHS hazards to deal with
It doesn't matter whether it's a construction site, chemical laboratory or staid office: Accidents can happen just about anywhere, especially if insufficient WHS measures are in place. Different types of work present different types of hazards, such as the perils that can come with manual lifting, exposed electrical wires, toxic substances, working from heights and even trailing computer cables.
Indeed, back pain alone – often derived from incorrect sitting posture at a desk, or poor lifting form – is the most commonly recorded workplace injury. It's accountable for AU$4.8 billion in healthcare costs alone, with a quarter of those that suffer from it taking 10 or more days off in sick leave per year.
How can the risk of such injuries be minimised? It's deceptively simple. Systems of prevention are devised by WHS professionals, which helps prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Stripped to a base level, many accidents in the workplace are preventable, requiring only the expertise, attention and care from a qualified professional to make the work-related arena as safe as possible.
2. It's not only lives you'll be saving
During 2010/11, some 132,570 workers lodged compensation claims against their employer for a work-related injury or illness.
Of course, the core aim of WHS is to prevent injury and death in the workplace, but there are several other factors at play, too. Sound WHS principles in any given company can bolster business efficiency, especially when it comes to staff absence.
A 2014 SafeWork Australia study found that during 2010/11, some 132,570 workers lodged compensation claims against their employer for a work-related injury or illness. That's approximately 13.1 claims per 1,000 employees – compensation money and wages that could have been saved if the proper WHS procedures were in place.
Additionally, the same source states a quarter of serious claims needed the employee to take 12 or more weeks leave from work. Therefore, as well as compensating in the form of of sick pay and the claim itself, further expense would have been required to train another to fill the gap left by an extended absence.
3. The threat of asbestos remains
The scourge of asbestos continues to loom large. Because Australia was one of the highest users of the deadly substance for over 50 years, it still remains in many homes around the country – potentially one-third of them, according to the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. Therefore, discoveries of long-forgotten asbestos in Australia are common, meaning that there is a permanent need for asbestos awareness in the workplace to combat this constant threat.
Additionally, asbestos still finds its way into the country under the radar via imports from countries where the substance is not banned, meaning that trained assessment and removal professionals will be required for years to come. The battle against asbestos looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, and eradicating the dangerous substance for good is a long term target for Australia – and with trained, knowledgeable people in place, it can be done.
Australia will always have the need for Health and Safety professionals. At AlertForce, we offer a raft of WHS courses for those looking to get ahead in the health and safety industry. Be sure to get in contact with us to find out more.