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During 2012 Work Health and Safety changes occurred in most jurisdictions within Australia. We had the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations 2011 and we also saw the introduction of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 – 2022, which replaced the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002-2012

In 2002 the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry endorsed the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002-2012 to provide a framework for a broad range of national activities to improve the health and safety of workers in Australia. The current Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 builds on the previous National OHS Strategy.

The purpose of the Australian Strategy is to drive key national activities to achieve improvement in Work Health and Safety; it promotes the vision of healthy, safe and productive working lives and sets four outcomes to be achieved by 2022.

Reduced incidents of work-related death, injury and illness achieved by
– Reduced exposure to hazards and risks using
– Improved hazards controls and supported by
– An improved work health and safety infrastructure

In order to achieve the outcomes, a systematic management of risks must occur at the workplace level and a concerted effort be made by duty holders and those who support them.

The Australian Strategy includes national targets and performance indicators that are used to measure the success of national actions. The number and incidence rate of fatalities, injuries and disorders are important indicators of health and safety performance.

The targets to be achieved by 2022 include:
– A reduction in the number of worker fatalities due to injury of at least 20%
– A reduction in the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%, and
– A reduction in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%

1. Health and safety by design – the most effective and durable means of creating a health and safe working environment is to eliminate hazards and risks during the design process.

– Structures, plan and substances are designed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risk before they are introduced into the workplace.
– Work, work processes and systems of work are designed and managed to eliminate or minimise hazards and risks.

2. Supply chains and networks – industry leaders within supply chains and networks need to be champions of health and safety.

– Supply chain and network participants understand their cumulative impact and actively improve the health and safety of the supply chain.
– Commercial relationships within supply chains and networks are used to improve work health and safety.
– Industry leaders champion work health and safety in supply chains and networks.

3. Health and Safety capabilities – Every person requires the capabilities, the knowledge, skills and resources to fulfil their role in relation to work health and safety.

– Everyone in a workplace has the work health and safety capabilities they require
– Those providing work health and safety education, training and advice have the appropriate capabilities
– Inspectors and other staff of work health and safety regulators have the work health and safety capabilities to effectively perform their role.
– Work health and safety skills development is integrated effectively into relevant education and training programs

4. Leadership and Culture – leaders promote positive workplace cultures.

– Communities and their leaders drive improved work health and safety
– Organisational leaders foster a culture of consultation and collaboration which actively improves work health and safety
– Health and safety is given priority in all work processes and decisions

5. Research and evaluation – a nationally-coordinated and cooperative approach is required to promote the efficient and effective use of Australia’s research resources.

– Build a national picture of work health and safety performance
– Evaluation and effectiveness and cost of work health and safety legislative changes.
– Better understand current hazard exposures, the effectiveness of controls, and attitudes towards health and safety.

6. Government – Governments can promote and influence work health and safety with Australian organisations and in the community.

– Work health and safety is actively considered in the development, implementation and evaluation of government policy.
– Governments use their investment and purchasing power to improve work health and safety
– Governments exemplify good work health and safety.

7. Responsive and effective regulatory framework – Regulators are encouraged to work collaboratively.

– Legislation, policies and regulatory practice are reviewed and monitored to ensure they are responsive and effective
– Relationships between regulators and all who have a stake in work health and safety are effective, constructive, transparent and accountable.

Even if your jurisdiction has not adopted the new WHS Act, we encourage you to follow the link to the Safe Work Australia Website for a full copy of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. The strategy details the priority industry groups and priority disorders which have been identified as national priorities for prevention activities.

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