Organisational safety prioritisation
Safety prioritisation involves valuing safety and making it a key workplace priority.
Meaningful consultation with workers will help make work health and safety (WHS) a normal practice at your business. WHS is part of everyone’s business and leaders should encourage and support workers to participate in these activities. Leaders can do this by sharing their safety vision and showing genuine interest and enthusiasm for workers’ WHS and wellbeing.
Acknowledge workers’ commitment to WHS
Recognise individuals and teams when they contribute to and improve your WHS systems. Encourage participation by highlighting behaviours that contribute to a safe workplace.
- Acknowledge workers who model positive safety behaviours.
- Acknowledge workers who work safely, by asking them to help conduct risk assessments and redesign work practices.
- Encourage workers to share learnings with team members when developing and implementing procedures.
- Recognise achievements and the benefits to the business when teams work together to make safety a priority at work.
Do you recognise individuals and teams when they contribute to and improve your WHS systems?
Workplaces must have arrangements in place to consult with workers. This is a key Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requirement.
Consultation recognises that worker input and participation can improve WHS decision-making and helps reduce work-related injuries and disease. Their participation helps build co-operation and trust between management and workers by demonstrating worker contributions to WHS is valued.
When workers are involved in decision making, they are more likely to commit to WHS and their involvement in WHS planning enables them to provide input on hazards, risks, and solutions. They understand the work best and will often see risks overlooked by others.
Information on how to meet your obligations can be found in the Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.49 MB).
Workers can contribute to good WHS decisions by:
- reviewing safe work procedures
- conducting risk assessments
- developing safe working procedures for new equipment or changed work practices
- maintaining tools and equipment
- refreshing their knowledge of good safety practices
- attending networks relevant to business operations.
Health and safety representatives (HSR) and health and safety committees (HSCs) give workers a voice in WHS matters at work through participation and consultation. If your workplace doesn’t have HSRs, you could consult with workers in meetings or face-to-face discussions as an alternative option.
Actively encourage and prioritise safety above deadlines that are likely to increase risks. Acknowledge and praise workers who challenge unsafe workplace behaviours and attitudes, promote and support unofficial safety leaders who advocate and model good WHS behaviours and practices, especially when safety standards come under pressure.
Reinforce safety messaging such as:
- our workers’ lives and wellbeing are important
- workers should go home in the same condition they came to work in
- worker safety is more important than taking shortcuts to maximise profits or save time.
Workers should feel confident and comfortable to question unsafe practices and shortcuts, especially those being taken to achieve production targets. Workers will be reluctant to report safety issues if no action is taken to address their concerns.
- Ask workers how they want their voice for safety to be heard, for example would they prefer a Health and safety representative (HSR) or a safety Committee to represent them, or prefer a process where they communicate and consult directly with the leadership team?
- Implement a program to acknowledge workers’ proactive WHS behaviours
- Show you’re committed by promoting WHS, for example using signs, posters, a notice board dedicated to safety, or a safety suggestion box.
Your workers are your greatest assets, so it makes good business sense to protect them. By demonstrating your commitment to safety, your workers will see that you’re serious about ensuring their wellbeing.
View the Resources page for information and tips on how to improve your systems and processes to build your safety capability including prioritising organisational safety, importance of consultation, representation and participation, and understanding your legal obligations.
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