National Strategy General Stakeholder
Workshop in Sydney, NSW
Friday 27 May 2011
Hosted by
Mr John Watson
(represented by
Ms Bridget Barrett),
NSW WorkCover Authority)
Sebel Pier One
Professor David Caple &
Mr Rick Hodgson
Page and Content
4. History of National Strategy
5. Safe Work Australia and the National Strategy
6. National Work Health and Safety Strategy Consultation and Development
7. Welcome
8. Workshop Introduction
9. Workshop participants profile
10. Session Scopes
11. Session 1: Group participant discussion on OHS
14. Session 2: Social/Economic/Emerging Issues in the workforce, business and technology
20. Session 3: Work Health & Safety Systems in safe design, supply chain, safety leadership & organisational culture
26. Session 4: Enhancing the capacity of workplaces to respond to disease, injury and psychological injury causing hazards
32. Closing Remarks
33. Evaluation Comments
Disclaimer: The views of participants expressed in this document are not necessarily the views of Safe Work Australia.
History of National Strategy
The 10 year National Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Improvement Framework (NIF) was in
place in the 1990s providing Australia with a nationally coordinated “roadmap” for improving workplace
health and safety. The NIF signalled the commitment to OHS improvement in Australia by the
Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council (WRMC), the National Occupational Health and Safety
Commission (NOHSC) and NOHSC members. It set out to improve prevention, share knowledge,
foster partnerships and collaborations, and compare performance among the key OHS stakeholders in
The National OHS Strategy (National Strategy) was endorsed in May 2002 with the vision of Australian
workplaces free from death, injury and disease. This was a tripartite initiative of NOHSC and
unanimously endorsed by Federal, State and Territory Ministers. The 10 year timeframe was chosen to
span political terms and provide the time to develop evidence based policies and programs. The
Workplace Relations Ministers’ noted the successes of the National Road Strategy and its associated
targets, and believed the inclusion of targets in a new document would help sharpen the national focus
and efforts to improve Australia’s OHS performance.
The National Strategy set out the basis for nationally strategic interventions that were intended to
foster sustainably safe and healthy work environments, and to reduce significantly the numbers of
people hurt or killed at work. Five national priorities and nine areas that required national action were
agreed. These collectively aimed to bring about short and long-term improvements in OHS, as well as
longer-term cultural change. Reports on progress to achieve the objectives of the National Strategy
were provided annually to WRMC.
NOHSC provided the original leadership and took carriage of the National Strategy until it was
replaced by the Australian Safety and Compensation Council in 2005.
Safe Work Australia and the National Strategy
In 2009 Safe Work Australia – an
independent Australian Government
statutory body – was established. It has
primary responsibility for improving work
health and safety and workers’
compensation arrangements across
Safe Work Australia represents a genuine
partnership between governments, unions
and industry working together towards the
goal of reducing death, injury and disease
in workplaces.
The current and future National Strategy
are key documents to guide the work of
Safe Work Australia and others to achieve
this goal. The current historic commitment
to work health and safety is illustrated by
the joint funding by the Commonwealth,
state and territory governments of Safe
Work Australia, facilitated through an
intergovernmental agreement signed in
July 2008.
Safe Work Australia members:
Back left to right:
Mr Mark Goodsell Australian Industry Group; Mr Brian Bradley Western Australia; Ms Michele
Patterson South Australia; Ms Michelle Baxter Commonwealth; Mr Rex Hoy Chief Executive
Officer; Mr Peter Tighe Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
Front left to right:
Ms Anne Bellamy Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Mr John Watson New
South Wales; Mr Tom Phillips AM Chair; Mr Michael Borowick (ACTU)
Absent: Mr Greg Tweedly Victoria; Mr Barry Leahy Queensland; Ms Liesl Centenera ACT; Mr
Roy Ormerod Tasmania; and Ms Laurene Hull Northern Territory.
National Work Health and Strategy Consultation and
Safe Work Australia is now developing a new
National Work Health and Safety Strategy to
supersede the previous Strategy that expires
in June 2012.
To inform the development process,
workshops are being held in all capital cities
and a number of regional centres. These will
seek ideas and comments from invited
participants including employers, employees,
regulators, work health and safety
professionals, academics and interested
community members.
Safe Work Australia will also continue to
consult with key stakeholders through a range
of other mechanisms including ongoing
bilateral consultations and by commissioning
topic papers from experts on selected issues.
These consultations will allow Safe Work
Australia Members to decide on priority
areas, targets and the Strategy’s duration.
Once a draft National Work Health and Safety Strategy
has been agreed by Safe Work Australia Members this
will be released for public comment early in 2012. The
comments will be analysed and used to further inform
the development of the new Strategy.
Welcome to participants
Ms Bridget Barrett, Program Director of the Work Health & Safety Legislation Implementation
Program, NSW WorkCover welcomes participants to the Sydney workshop.
Workshop Introduction
Mr Tom Phillips AM, the Chair of Safe Work Australia gave an
introduction to workshop. He noted that the National OHS
Strategy 2002-2012 provides a basis for developing sustainable,
safe and healthy work environments and for reducing the number
of people hurt or killed at work.
He noted that the current Strategy set very clear and ambitious
goals for work heath and safety, and was a key initiative to
improve Australia's work health and safety performance from
He thanked participants for attending and indicated that the
workshops are an important part of the extensive stakeholder
consultation process for the development of the New National
Strategy. Mr Phillips invited participants to stay engaged and
review the development progress reports on the new Strategy on
the Safe Work Australia website as they are released.
Mr Phillips provided data on the progress and limitations of the
current Strategy and lessons learnt.
Mr Phillips’ presentation slides are available on
the Safe Work Australia website.
Participant comments on the workshops and
new National Strategy themes can be sent to
He also noted the public comment period for the new Strategy
early next year and welcomed participants’ comments at that time.
Sydney Workshop Participants’ Profile
27 May 2011
Community based organisation
Employer association
OHS professional
Scope of each session
To assist participants all tables were given an outline of the meaning of the key discussion topics:
Social/Economic/Emerging Issues in the Workforce, Business and Technology
Work Health and Safety Systems – Challenges and Solutions in Safe Design and Work Systems, the
Supply Chain, and in Safety Leadership and Organisational Systems
The Workforce: changing worker demographics such as ageing, young workers, casualisation, contract work, shift work, and individual
needs such as literacy, disability, mental health
Business: how business is changing to meet emerging challenges and to remain viable and competitive, such as outsourcing,
subcontracting, casualisation, etc
Technology: innovations in the workplace that have already or may have a future impact on WHS, such as nanotechnology, green
technology, innovations in genetics, electronics and IT systems.
Safe Design and Organisational Systems: the systems and principles that facilitate the elimination of hazards at the design or
modification stage of products, buildings, structures and work processes
Supply Chain: the tools or processes that influence the best safety outcomes within the supply chain that moves a product or a service
from the supplier to the customer
Safety Leadership and Organisation Culture: safety leadership generates organisational cultures that view safety and productivity of
equal importance, validated by the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values of the workforce.
Hazards - Enhancing the capacity of workplaces to respond to:
Disease-Causing Hazards: includes noise, hazardous substances, chemicals and asbestos
Injury-Causing Hazards: includes work practices, manual tasks, slips trips and falls
Psychological Injury-Causing Hazards: includes the design, management and organisation of work and work systems to achieve
resilient productive and safe psychological working environments.
Session One: What will success look like in 10 years?
• Reduced number of fatalities, injury and disease, and
increased return to work of injured workers. The national
work health and safety vision is clear and well understood
and supported by the community. The language used is
clearly defined and understood. Australia is a world leader in
work health and safety.
• We focus on good news rather than bad, and are proactive
in taking up solutions, opportunities and challenges.
• Workplaces don’t just prevent work health and safety
problems but see well designed work as beneficial to health.
When workers are injured they are encouraged and
supported to quickly return to work.
• Work health and safety systems are in place that focus on
achieving outcomes, minimise red tape and reduce
• Work health and safety is integrated with productivity, and
systems are in place to monitor and record what is going on.
• Safety cultures are positive and resilient , and encourage
continual improvement
• Improved skills, competency and training ensure that
managers are aware of what work health and safety
success in leadership looks like. Capability and capacity is
increased among regulators. Workers enter the workforce
with high "safety literacy".
• Safety is designed into workplaces: systems,
structures, plant, equipment and machines.
• Safety does not rely on the “safe behaviour" of
• Work health and safety becomes the new
“green”, is de-politicised and is positively
marketed in communities and the share
market, not just workplaces.
• More work health and safety targeted goals are
implemented by all, rather than general goals
only implemented by some.
Session One: What will success look like in 10 years?
• Consistent national strategies for particular risks and injuries. Regular regulator engagement with
industry. An increased focus on duty holders with seamless integration of obligations across different
pieces of legislation, including corporate legal requirements.
• Government includes processes to anticipate work health and safety risks when designing policy,
consults with Safe Work Australia, recognises linkages between other policies and programs. Safety
risk assessments are done early in the policy development phase - “safe design of policy”.
• Self-insurance bodies and others have standard frameworks. There are increased links with medical
profession so doctors better understand workplace issues, collect exposure histories from patients.
• Strategies to reduce or eliminate hazards and occupational diseases, including screening of workers
in high risk areas and improved data collection, are in place and detect issues before they become
problems. Use consistent metrics.
• More research on emerging issues and publication of evidence-based advice and guidance.
• National data collection continues to improve, covers exposures, and covers road-related workplace
• There will be aspirational targets and clear lead as well as lag indicators.
• SMEs will have improved work health and safety.
• Work health and safety education will be included in schools, TAFEs and universities.
• Regulators are credible sources of work health and safety advice.
• Safe Work Australia anticipates changes to the work environment and provides flexible and effective
national responses.
Session One: What should Safe Work Australia do to
achieve success?
• Show leadership and raise the profile of work health and
• Provide consistent and reliable information.
• Facilitate work health and safety professional
• Provide consistent national tools, data and support.
• Establish sophisticated and active partnership with
stakeholders and tripartite partners.
• Identify and share solutions – what’s been done before,
what works.
• Disseminate solutions and provide safety impact advice
to policy makers at an early stage.
• Engage with employers and employees to encourage.
them to be more responsible for collective and individual
• Ensure there is an Australia-wide approach rather than
people doing their own thing.
• Develop a National Strategy and set priorities that
address work health and safety risks at all levels of
• Use social media, and run "eye
catching" national campaigns
• Start in schools to entrench work
health and safety into the Australian
• Model a standard of flexible work that
integrates a healthy work life balance
• Positively market work health and
safety showing links between safety,
profitability and sustainability
Session Two: Emerging Issues in the Workforce
What will success look like in 10 years time?
• Healthy and safe work designed to reflect the varying
abilities and capabilities of workers due to their age,
physical or mental conditions is underpinned by a
healthy work-life balance.
• Work health and safety work ability strategies harness
the productivity of the ageing workforce and those with
physical, mental and emotional disabilities.
• People take responsibility to maintain their work ability
as they age.
• Healthy and safe work conditions for volunteers.
• Strategies are in place to meet the work health and
• Integrated work health and safety and
safety needs of precarious and vulnerable workers.
public health system – NB. others
• Work health and safety standards remain high despite
noted the need not to lose work health
the changing economic climate, industry profiles, new
and safety within the public health
technology, and pressures on Australia from our trading
• “Great Ideas Banks” harness skills
• SMEs are supported to understand and proactively
and experiences of older workers,
control their work health and safety hazards - advice and
how they made work easier and safer.
support is tailored to suit their needs, not just those of
large companies.
Session Two: Emerging Issues in the Workforce
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve success?
• Memorandums of Understanding on work health and safety with
countries whose businesses want to operate in Australia.
• Evidence based campaigns to help promote life changes and
work-life balance issues.
• Coordinated workplace health surveillance on the effects of
changes on the workforce.
• Assess degree of risk perception and knowledge of hazards
amongst workers and provide solutions that are tailored to
different generational perspectives.
• Ensure that messages are aimed at the right groups and
delivered in ways that suit them – use non-English media,
market gardeners appreciate face to face help from officials.
• Work health and safety advice tailored to our cultural and
linguistically diverse workforce.
• Promote healthier lifestyles to reduce work health and safety
issues (reduced obesity, increased fitness).
• Develop models to educate managers on work health and
safety issues, eg regarding mental health, economic and
socially disadvantaged workers.
• Assess unique risks that may not have been seen before
because the above groups may not have been in the workforce.
• Develop guidance so there is less
reliance on capability assessment.
• Promote safe design to accommodates
people’s changing abilities.
• Work with industry leaders to ensure the
safe use of labour hire and nonpermanent workers.
Session Two: Emerging Issues in Business
What will success look like in 10 years time?
• Work health and safety standards will remain high despite the following challenges identified
by participants:
Changing economic climate
Two paced economy, patchy recovery
High exchange rates
Squeezed margins
More complex trading environments
Increased workforce mobility
Changing industry profiles
Changing workforce demographics, and
New technology pressures.
• Productivity improved and regulatory enforcement reduced due to good work health and safety
organisational cultures that manage sub-contractors and non-standard employees.
• Work health and safety uses web-based tools to communicate effectively and mentor contractors
• Employers implement their collective responsibility for providing safe workplaces.
• Work health and safety communication meets the needs of workers with low literacy. Generational
attitudes are recognised and relevant work health and safety strategies developed.
• Risk assessments are linked to training workers, who know before they start who will do what work
and the systems they will use.
Session Two: Emerging Issues in Business
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve this?
• Summarise what others are doing and provide
information including sharing best practice solution
tailored to suit size and capacity of businesses.
• Identify good performers.
• Implement a mentoring program for business in the
supply chain similar to that of NSW WorkCover.
• Provide services and engage with business, who
reciprocate in kind.
• Provide work health and safety advisory systems for
sub-contractors to access eg "subbie packs".
• Define the tension between regulators being “there to
help” but also having to prosecute at times; promote
a balance between compliance support and
enforcement and ensure that inspectors are skilled
and competent to provide advice.
• Research and provide models that are relevant for
SMEs as well as big companies.
• Engage with e-commence to manage
work health and safety better: “virtual”
businesses are a developing
• Improve the data and information on
emerging work health and safety
issues for business.
Session Two: Emerging Issues in Technology
What will success look like in 10 years time?
Emergent IT (including the NBN) is met by work health and safety strategies that allow productive,
safe and flexible alternatives to on-site work, including home based, remote & out-workers. New
technology has corresponding new educational material that ensures that workers are up to date
and informed.
Where risks are not well understood the precautionary approach is applied, including a
precautionary approval approach that allows new technology and chemicals that are of safety
benefit to be imported into Australia without exorbitant costs.
Australia becomes a developer of safe new technology, rather than simply an importer. A safe
design whole of lifecycle approach is taken to new technical products, rather than a segmented
Incentives in the form of support and mentoring programs are made available for employers who
introduce new and better technology.
Work health and safety strategies protect workers from the potential overload, stress or depression
associated with the introduction of new technologies and the changes they bring, such as the need
to develop new capabilities, and the changing structure of workforces and work patterns.
Emerging technology, specifically nanotechnology and genetics, is controlled and only applied in
the workplace where it produces safe ethical outcomes. The provision of same is overseen and
regulated (both for hazards and benefits).
The cost impacts of new technology that brings significant work health and safety benefits are
cushioned for those businesses that cannot afford to implement them.
Session Two: Emerging Issues in Technology
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve success?
• Reduce impediments to technology and identify
what SMEs can do to make life easier and safer
when these are adopted.
• Fund, lead or facilitate efficient transfer of
information and knowledge about technologies.
• Engage industry and specialists at the national
level to ensure up to date knowledge and then
provide guidance for designers of new
• Commission or carry out research that
identifies potential work health and safety
issues before the introduction of new
technology, then provides appropriate
• Help workplaces to use social media and
other communication e-tools to
communicate effectively and assist their
work health and safety decision making
• Develop tools and frameworks to assist in
the safe introduction of new technologies.
• Lead by targeted research into hazards
and benefits, including supporting
laboratory and other testing capability.
• Reward businesses where safety has been
integrated as a core value into the
introductions of new technologies and
"communications capabilities".
Session Three: Safe Design & Work Systems
What will success look like in 10 years time?
• Hazards and risks are eliminated at the design stage.
• A “cradle to grave” safe design process is used, from design
until decommissioning.
• Root cause analysis identifies design failings and facilitates
interventions to avoid incidents reoccurring.
• Designers design better plant and equipment by using a data
triangulation technique that consults with workers and
observes workers non-judgementally to help validates the
efficacy of design through cross verification from more than
two sources (as was originally intended by Robens).
• Systems are integrated into design that recognises that
errors occur and that there is a need to design out
opportunities for human error.
• There is a more holistic view of safety design, in that it can
affect not only work health and safety but broader systems
(structural, environmental, security).
• Tools and principles (eg “HazOps”) mitigate the design
issues in hazardous operations.
• Safe design concepts are always incorporated in the design
principles taught to designers.
• Safe design applies to every industry
involved in buildings, structures and
mining, with the risk management
approach leading to significant
improvements, and regulators involved
from the beginning.
• Where hazards can’t be designed out
improvements in design are
complemented by effective
communication and documentation.
Session Three: Safe Design & Work Systems
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve success?
• Work to ensure that economic policies and strategies don’t have unintended negative impacts.
• Educate to improve skills. Develop a suite of tools for designers to refresh their knowledge of
the hierarchy of controls regarding design issues.
• Scrutinise decisions and track up and down the chain to the designer when plant fails – learn
from mistakes.
• Communicate to designers what their obligations mean in practice and ensure they know that
the law holds them accountable.
• Communicate root causes of design failure to the market place.
• Actively engage with the “lost cousins” of design (architects, designers and engineers).
• Facilitate appropriate safe design capability within or available to regulators who need the
right skill set to engage with designers.
• Encourage regulators to engage at design stage, not reactively after incidents.
• Engage with designers of buildings to ensure they consider the safety of builders and
maintenance workers.
• Help companies to understand their design responsibilities and their need to identify duty
holders within the company who are responsible for work health and safety.
• Facilitate recognition of and understanding of cognitive hazards – information that is needed
to process to work safely (eg shift work, tired workers making decisions).
Session Three: Supply Chain
What will success look like in 10 years time?
• Products are safe when they enter the supply
chain and continue to be safe right through to
• The legitimate use and role of the supply
chain in improving safety is recognised with
all persons within the supply chain aware of
and meeting their work health and safety
responsibilities as well as influencing others
to improve work health and safety up-stream,
down-stream and sideways.
• There is an effective governance process at
key points in the supply chain to ensure that
commercial conditions do not require unsafe
behaviour by suppliers during transport,
maintenance and design, eg Quality Control,
regulatory inspections.
• Shareholders and the market incorporate
a Corporate Social Responsibility
approach that recognises the need to
engage with a supply chain that employs
an ethical approach to procurement and
purchasing that further influences safety
in the supply chain.
Session Three: Supply Chain
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve success?
• Promote ongoing debate about the legitimate
use of a systems approach to improve safety in
the supply chain, “where the aggregate
outcome is safety”.
• Help suppliers to manage business by providing
leadership to ensure that work health and safety
is integrated throughout the supply chain.
• Produce guidance material on safety for all
levels and parties in the supply chain.
• Work with stakeholders to ensure that there is
effective governance in the supply chain, and to
“fine tune” where safety in the supply chain is
• Ensure trade agreements recognise the need to
maintain high levels of safe design and
compliance with Australian Standards in
imported plant and materials.
Session Three: Safety Leadership and Organisational
Culture. What will success look like?
• The scope describes success: “Safety leadership generates
organisational cultures that view safety and productivity of
equally importance, validated by the attitudes, beliefs,
perceptions & values of the workforce”.
• Organisations exhibit a mature safety culture that integrates
safety fully into all their operations, along with measureable
commitment and standardised reporting.
• Australian businesses use a system based approach that
recognises that “resources include humans, not just tools of
production, and as humans they are fallible and make errors”.
• Possibility of errors are "designed out" or defences put in
place to mitigate their effects.
• Safety leadership is evident as core business in Australian
companies, where leaders at all levels of the organisation
have a vision for work health and safety excellence in their
workplaces and “do” not just “say”.
• Safety leadership is underpinned by the implementation of a
credible safety management system, effective communication
and management commitment.
• Share market and shareholders see companies that manage
work health and safety well as productive and good
investment opportunities.
• Corporate governance sanctions are applied
for non-compliance – these are seen as fair
and reasonable.
• Corporate responsibilities ensure that more
business leaders (both SME and large)
accept and embrace commitment to safety
and are prepared to publicise their
• “Work health and safety is a social norm”,
fully integrated into society and the education
system so pressure for good work health and
safety comes from peers and families.
Session Three: Safety Leadership & Organisational
Culture - What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve
• Promote a balance of incentives and rewards versus negative outcomes for poor performers.
• Work with industry bodies and member organisations to implement requirements for all
organisations to report their work health and safety performance, define and measure
improvements, and incorporate them into the global reporting initiative (GRI).
• Standardise systems for monitoring and reporting safety performance.
• Educate about what is possible and what quality leadership looks like, eg why you should comply
(safe business is good business). Engage in "social dialogue" on cultural change.
• Develop marketing tools and publicise how organisations are going, including identifying
champions and exemplars through case studies and disseminating good models while naming
and shaming bad models.
• Engage in groundswell social dialogue with communities to influence social norms.
• Better engage with SMEs by brokering relationships with work health and safety professionals
who exhibit leadership and are accessible to organisations.
• Develop accessible guidance material (eg printers’ package) codes of practice and regulations.
• Ensure the professionalism and competence of work health and safety professionals is high, and
engage with tertiary providers to ensure ongoing supply of qualified work health and safety
• Increase capacity and competence to advise industry.
• Ensure that measures of success include lead safety indicators.
Session Four: Responding to Disease-Causing Hazards
What will success look like in 10 years time?
GPs recognise occupational disease or investigate
for it if they suspect an occupational origin.
Changes to the Corporations law impose liability and
accountability for occupational disease.
There is a better understanding of the nature of
disease-causing hazards informed by research, an
increased knowledge of cause and nature of
agency, the multi-factorial nature and a knowledge
of the risks and the potential extent of illness.
The burden of occupational disease is significantly
reduced, with decreased exposures as a result of
exposures monitored, known hazards identified, no
new exposures or problems in aged or new workers,
and workers recognise hazardous situations.
Australia stays ahead of new developments, eg the
risks of bowel cancer and other effects of sedentary
work, or the potential legacies and unintended
consequences of the NBN.
• There is better identification of clusters
with sentinel reporting in place that
focuses on systems and processes,
and analyses causal factors.
• Holistic reporting incorporates work
health and safety and environmental
factors, ie reduced hazards may
increase environmental footprint.
Session Four: Responding to Disease-Causing Hazards
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve
Enhance the capacity of workplaces to respond by:
• Educating management and workplaces not to
ignore potential problems unless attention is drawn
to them (eg treatment of fluorocarbons).
• Collaborating with global partners, recognise
international implications of occupational diseases,
and look overseas for evidence.
• Providing new guidance for health surveillance.
• Facilitating the improvement of biological monitoring
techniques, and supporting labs which can perform
multiple checks and identify exposures before
disease manifests.
• Educating medical professionals.
• Building more sophisticated ways of collecting data • Promoting systems for early intervention
and for compulsory reporting.
in areas of high risk where workers are
• Integrating a holistic approach that incorporates
occupational and environmental hazards.
• Continuing the whole of Government
• Prioritising and addressing the worst offenders
approach to a reduction of exposures, eg
(noise, asbestos, silicates and dust, sunlight,
the GHS.
engine emissions, and solvents).
Session Four: Responding to Injury-Causing Hazards
What will success look like in 10 years time?
There are reduced injuries and increased safe systems in place.
There is reduced risk tolerance and complacency.
There is increased scientific rigour in risk management.
Lead indicators drive proactive improvement.
There is recognition of cumulative damage.
Problems and hazards are designed out at the design stage.
Prior to the introduction of any new technology, plant, substances, processes or work
practices, proactive hazard management processes are planned and undertaken.
There is an increased focus on high consequence tasks and hazards.
There is better understanding of what causes injury and of the interface between machines
and workers, including consideration of models such as the energy changing model.
Older technology is replaced by newer safer machinery (eg eliminating old-model tractors!).
Smarter guarding and assistive technology helps prevent slips, trips, falls, and prevents
farmers losing digits.
Improved skills, competency & training have increased the quality of hazard management
carried out by both employers and employees, linked in with input at primary, secondary and
tertiary levels of education.
Formal change management processes facilitate changes in processes that may have
become entrenched but remain inherently dangerous.
Session Four: Responding to Injury-Causing Hazards
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve this?
Enhance the capacity of workplaces to respond
• Coordinating national prevention programs.
• Assisting designers and manufactures to
design better and safer equipment.
• Gathering information, celebrate and
promote solutions and successes and give
feedback where things are not working, eg
safe systems that are easy to adopt,
procedures that can be adopted, or the need
for better information from designers on how
to use machines.
• Facilitating smarter systems so machines
work in the real world, eg Industry Standard
on guarding on augers makes the guard too
difficult to use, so it is usually removed.
• Providing guidance and assistance (and work
with regulators where enforcement is
needed) to introduce safe systems of work.
Session Four: Responding to Psychological InjuryCausing Hazards
What will success look like in 10 years time?
• Exposure to psychological hazards is controlled by
evidence based good workplace management and job
design that includes recognition of human factors issues,
the potential for psychological injury, and the need for work
life balance and a positive culture.
• Psychological disorders and occupational bullying are well
defined, clear diagnoses are made that include work
relatedness, legal aspects, workers’ compensation, and
early RTW is achieved with over servicing reduced.
• Resilient productive and safe psychological working
environments are achieved by recognising and putting
adaptive strategies in place that provide help for at risk
employees, remove the stigma associated with psych
injuries, and deal with the challenges posed by new
technology versus ageing workforce and the potential for
cyber bullying.
• There is agreement that measures like zero harm could be
achievable if the right systems are in place (such as
genuine hazard identification and risk assessment
measures that identify responsibilities for reporting, and
recognise that issues can be complex) to prevent work
causing psychological harm.
• Resources for appropriate support when potential
flags arise (bullying, exposure to psychological
trauma, inability to "confess" when suffering from
stress, non-English speaking workers using elearning processes, extended hours/shift work) to
prevent potential harm.
• Courteous reasonable workplace behaviour
supports employees with mental disorders, and
identifies how people with psychological injuries
(whether work-related or not) can be integrated
into the workplace.
Session Four: Responding to Psychological InjuryCausing Hazards
What should Safe Work Australia do to achieve this?
Enhance the capacity of workplaces to respond by:
• Providing integrated evidence based policy development and tools and developing links on work
health and safety and psychological health with Australian Human Resources Institute and other
learning and development bodies.
• Promoting education programs – simple risk management approaches and measures of success
• Providing proactive advice in expected times of additional psychological pressure – GFC and its
effects on business, depressed economic circumstances, natural disasters, pandemics.
• Developing guidelines, resources, fact sheets, and tools to assist staff and managers to
understand what compliance looks like for these hazards.
• Commissioning research and gathering credible statistics to define and measure our current
performance, better identify what is happening in industry sectors, and develop evidence based
psychological risk reduction policies.
• Supporting key at-risk industries, eg hospitality where the need for customer satisfaction can at
times be detrimental to employee health, and ensure there are safety nets and early intervention
programs to support at-risk employees.
• Developing a simple audit tool, model or instrument.
• Integrating Australia’s approach with international counterparts, eg 2011 British Standards
Institution Guidance on the Management of psychosocial risks in the workplace.
Closing Reflections from the Chair
Mr Phillips thanked participants for their time and suggestions. He noted the appeal for the National Strategy to include a focus on
preventing deaths related to road accidents, as well as the need to prioritise hazardous chemicals and then target a small number of
the most hazardous.
He agreed that there not only needs to be "safe design" in the traditional concept, where work health and safety risks for people with
differing abilities such as ageing, or disability are addressed through safe design, engineering a good match between work demands
and human capabilities, but also of social and economic policy, where these issues are considered early in the development phase.
He observed that he was rather taken by the idea that we should strive to make work health and safety the new “black” (or “green”
as was identified at the workshop, where green policies seem to achieve more resonance with the community than work health and
safety issues). He noted he was completely in agreement that we increasingly need to consider work health and safety issues for
volunteers as we ever more encourage and need them to contribute to unpaid work tasks.
He agreed with the participants that we need to explore the use of the supply chain to introduce improved work health and safety
into an area both up and down stream. He noted participants’ suggestions that we need to analyse design failings to inform safe
design – not only in traditional areas of plant and machinery, but also to deal with the increasing cognitive demands of work as we
evolve in this time of rapid development.
He noted participants’ suggestions on the need for safety leadership that extends beyond compliance, and to integrate work health
and safety seamlessly into business as part of corporate social responsibility. Mr Phillips indicated that the development of the new
National Strategy would provide an opportunity to refresh our collective approach to a range of issues that have not received
perhaps as much focus as they should have – for example, safe design, small and medium businesses, and hazardous exposures
in workplaces.
Mr Phillips went on to observe that the workshop themes chosen for exploration were just some of the many that are under active
consideration by Safe Work Australia Members as they develop the new National Strategy. He closed the workshop by welcoming
participants’ ongoing engagement with the development of the new Strategy and that if they would like to provide further comments
and ideas these may be sent to
Evaluation Outcomes
Overall, the feedback from the National Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 workshop which was held in Sydney on 27 May
was very positive.
Both quantitative and qualitative results were collected from 38 evaluation sheets, which reported 100% approval with the length of
the workshop, with 97% and 95% satisfaction respectively with the opportunity to contribute and the format of the day. There was
100% satisfaction with the facilitators, while the room set up, location and food rated between 80-90% levels of satisfaction. Some
found the venue great, one even fantastic, while others would have liked a larger venue with less pillars obscuring views. Two
attendees found the lack of good public transport an inconvenience, and others would have liked copies of the question to prepare
themselves better for the discussion. There was in particular a call for the audience to include more of the people we want to reach
in our next 10 year Strategy, ie workers, small business, young people, new starters, culturally and linguistically diverse
communities, and people with mental illness who are or want to be in the workforce. On the other hand a great deal of participants
(nearly 50%) found there was good networking and cross-section / cross-organisational representation.
The opportunity to provide feedback and input at this critical stage of developing the new Work Health and Safety Strategy was
appreciated, and the fact that all input was respectfully received and many times validated by the presenters successfully fostered a
culture for free and open discussion.
Many helpful suggestions were made on how to improve the quality of discussion, ranging from the need for rules of engagement for
groups, to some members of the audience didn’t understand how to address the hypothetical of what "success will look like in 10
years time". All of this input has been noted, and is being integrated into future workshops to make improvements. Several
attendees asked for a list of participants and their place of work. This has also been addressed with Safe Work Australia seeking
consent to do this for future workshops in confirmation emails, and participant lists will be distributed from now on. Whilst most
people were satisfied with the pace of the workshop, some requested more time for each topic to discuss and debate proposals.
However, others found it hard to stay focussed for the whole length, and as there was 100% satisfaction with the length of the
workshop, this was taken as a positive measure of participant enthusiasm overall.
Text in italics indicates direct quotes from respondees