Do you know your workplace safety obligations?

Employsure Pty Ltd

By Nichola Murphy
Wednesday, 11 October, 2017

October is Safe Work Month, making it the perfect opportunity for Australian businesses to address their health and safety. However, the Employsure Workplace Safety Index has revealed that many small businesses are not on top of it.

Conducted in August 2017, the Index tracked Australian small businesses’ understanding and confidence in planning, managing and implementing their workplace health and safety obligations.

The data found that 81% of Australian small businesses don’t fully understand their workplace safety obligations, with only half claiming they meet their obligations across all areas of workplace safety.

The index identified the top five safety issues facing small businesses:

  1. The complexity of the rules.
  2. Constant changing of the rules.
  3. The amount of paperwork.
  4. Time required for compliance.
  5. Staff being careless.

“Small business owners want to do the right thing but we hear from them daily that they feel crippled by the complexity of what they are required to do,” stated Employsure Managing Director Ed Mallet. “They are swamped and struggling to keep their head above water.”

With safety requirements constantly changing, it is important that businesses remain aware of the requirements and vigilant in implementing their strategies. However, only one in five small businesses felt confident implementing their workplace safety plan.

The data also showed that small businesses struggled to manage both mental and physical issues in the workplace, with only 46% having a clear understanding of how to address bullying, and less than 60% understanding their responsibilities should an employee get injured.

Mallet highlighted the major problem wasn’t a lack of interest in maintaining health and safety, it was a lack of understanding and confidence about how and where to get help.

“Our research found that small businesses want to improve their workplace safety, particularly around improved documentation, managing bullying, training staff and responding to an injury. They want to do more, but often don’t know how,” Mallet said.

Over one-third of small business employers admitted they rely on Google for the answers, according to Employsure.

“With about five million Australians employed by small businesses, it’s so important that we get safety right and minimise the complexities and drain that compliance creates to keep workplaces safe. This isn’t just a workplace issue, this is a national issue.”

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