WHS strategy reaches half way mark

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 has reached its half way mark towards making a ‘healthy, safe productive working lives’ for Australian workers.

Safework Australia says it was developed after nearly two years of consultation with WHS regulators, governments, unions, employer organisations, industry groups, safety organisations and the general public and is underpinned by two key principles:

  • All workers regardless of their occupation or how they are engaged have the right to a healthy and safe working environment.
  • Well-designed healthy and safe work will allow workers in Australia to have more productive working lives.

The Strategy also sets three national targets to be achieved by 2022 and 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%.
  • A reduction in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 30%.

The Strategy has a range of national priority areas that SafeWork Australia says together set the framework for a nationally coordinated effort to achieve its vision and targets.

There are seven action areas:

  • healthy and safe by design
  • supply chains and networks
  • health and safety capabilities
  • leadership and culture
  • research and evaluation
  • government
  • responsive and effective regulatory framework.

Seven national priority industries have been chosen for prevention activities due to their high rates of injury and/or fatalities including:

  • agriculture
  • road transport
  • manufacturing
  • construction
  • accommodation and food services
  • public administration and safety
  • health care and social assistance.

There are six priority work-related disorders based on the severity of consequences for workers:

  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • mental disorders
  • cancers (including skin cancer)
  • asthma
  • contact dermatitis
  • noise-induced hearing loss.

The scheduled mid-term review of the Strategy was completed earlier this year and the mid term review examined:

  • progress against the Strategy’s targets
  • how the Strategy has influenced WHS activities
  • whether the key elements of the Strategy can continue to drive safety improvements, and
  • the areas of WHS that require greater attention over the next five years to achieve the Strategy’s vision. 

The review found that the Strategy is being used as intended, that it is appropriately flexible to meet the needs of a range of stakeholders, and sufficiently robust to accommodate the changing employment and industrial landscape for the next five years. Safe Work Australia members are considering the review findings. 

The Strategy builds on the previous National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002­-2012. Under this Strategy, Australia made significant progress in improving WHSoutcomes, including a 41% reduction in the fatality rate and 26% reduction in the work-related injuries rate during its life.

The final Triennial review of the National OHS Strategy outlines a range of actions implemented at the national, state and territory levels to support the desired outcomes, and this was a key input into the development of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022.


Image sourced from Flickr cc: RubyGoes

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