In this episode, we’ll discuss the Australian Work Health and Safety (WHS) Strategy for 2023–2033 put out by Safe Work Australia – an Australian Government statutory agency established in 2009. Safe Work Australia includes Members from the Commonwealth, and each state and territory, Members representing the interests of workers and Members representing the interests of employers.
The purpose of the Australian Work Health and Safety (WHS) Strategy 2023–2033 (the Strategy) is to outline a national vision for WHS — Safe and healthy work for all — and set the platform for delivering on key WHS improvements. To do this, the Strategy articulates a primary goal supported by national targets, and the enablers, actions and system-wide shifts required to achieve this goal over the next ten years. This Strategy guides the work of Safe Work Australia and its Members, including representatives of governments, employers and workers – but should also contribute to the work and understanding of all in the WHS system including researchers, experts and practitioners who play a role in owning, contributing to and realising the national vision.
- Background on Safe Work Australia
- The strategy includes six goals for reducing:
- Worker fatalities caused by traumatic injuries by 30%
- The frequency rate of serious claims resulting in one or more weeks off work by 20%
- The frequency rate of claims resulting in permanent impairment by 15%
- The overall incidence of work-related injury or illness among workers to below 3.5%
- The frequency rate of work-related respiratory disease by 20%
- No new cases of accelerated silicosis by 2033
- The strategy is a great opportunity to set a direction for research and education
- Five actions covered by the strategy:
- Information and raising awareness
- National Coordination
- Data and intelligence gathering
- Health and safety leadership
- Compliance and enforcement
- When regulators fund research – they demand tangible results quickly
- Many safety documents and corporate safety systems never reach the most vulnerable workers, who don’t have ‘regular’ long-term jobs
- Standardization can increase unnecessary work
- When and where do organizations access safety information?
- Data – AI use for the future
- Strategy lacks milestones within the ten-year span
- Enforcement – we don’t have evidence-based data on the effects
- The idea of a national strategy? Good.
- Balancing safety with innovation, evidence
- Answering our episode question: Need research into specific workforces, what is the evidence behind specific industry issues. “Lots of research is needed!”