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Friday 28th April, 2017 marks the day when the whole world will honour those who have died in workplace incidents. The World Day for Safety and Health at Work coincides with Workers’ Memorial Day and is an important reminder for all businesses that we need to make health and safety a priority in order to reduce the rate of work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses.

Although work-related fatality rates have been decreasing across the Pacific, 178 workers in Australia and 49 in New Zealand lost their lives in 2016. With 10 work-related fatalities recorded this year to date in New Zealand, and 45 in Australia, the statistics are still too high.

According to Worksafe NZ, the social and economic cost of people being killed and injured in New Zealand workplaces alone is conservatively estimated at $3.5 billion each year so there are clearly economic reasons, on top of the clear emotional reason, for businesses to care about health and safety legislative compliance.

It’s time we get real about this problem.

We all know how important this issue is and yet every month, we hear of businesses around the world committing grossly negligent practises, often in the name of saving money. Of course, the result is that these companies end up losing money, or going bankrupt, through litigation and the fines associated with non-compliance. In Victoria alone, 130 businesses and individuals were fined in 2015-16 for breach of OHS laws. And on top of that, there is the very real threat of jail time for business owners.

So what can we do to solve this problem?

Get involved!

On 28th April, no matter who you are within an organisation, you can take the lead to positively influence your workplace health and safety.

  • Lead by example by practicing exemplary workplace health & safety.
  • Pay respect for those who have died at work and have your organisation pause for a moment of silence.
  • Organise a morning or afternoon tea to talk about how your workplace can be improved to promote better health and safety practices.
  • Display promotional posters
  • Join a virtual seminar
  • Attend a local workers’ memorial event with your colleagues or family

Above all, the most important thing you can do is start a conversation at work. Talking openly, without casting blame or fault, will start to elevate workplace health and safety issues as a priority for your organisation. By raising awareness and taking the lead to lift the safety standards of your workplace, we can collectively help to prevent further injuries and death throughout all industries.


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