Accidents happen but effectively managing the risk around workplace health and safety can help ensure your business doesn’t become a second patient.

It’s every manager’s worst nightmare: one of your employees gets injured at work and could be facing months of rehabilitation.

The impact of injuries at work is wide-ranging. For many businesses the biggest impact will be the emotional toll on workers and the general drop in workforce morale.  For others it will be the loss in productivity and costs associated with compensation and rehabilitation. 

For those unfortunate enough to be investigated by government or even prosecuted, it may damage your business reputation and act as a barrier in competitive tendering. 

Assessing the damage
So how much trouble can you potentially get into? The answer is lots, according to Alan Girle, Director at Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors (ABLA).

“Penalties for failure to ensure the safety of workers have the potential to be extremely high,” he says. “The harmonised Work Health and Safety Act imposes a $3 million maximum penalty for each charge and the potential for up to five years jail for individuals found to have recklessly breached that Act. However, in recent years we have also seen police prosecutions in workplace settings.”

Managing risks
The good news is that the business risks flowing from workplace injuries are manageable. Those risks need to be managed both proactively and reactively. Proactive strategies involve identifying the risk areas and putting in place measures to remove or minimise those risks before they result in injury. Reactive strategies involve containing the risks flowing out of a workplace injury. In both cases the best outcomes are obtained through a fulsome consideration of the risks and a structured approach to the management of those risks. 

“Managing risks proactively and reactively starts with a simple phone call to an expert,” says Girle. “Consider the business policies, procedures, what risk assessments have been done, what control measures are in place, the legal arrangements governing safety, whether existing insurance cover is adequate and if it all goes wrong, how the business will respond to contain the risks.

“Avoiding the distress of a workplace injury will always be the priority, but if it should occur, most businesses will want to be able to respond effectively.”

For advice on managing the risk of workplace injury call Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors on 1300 565 846.

Learning how to support you: new research underway

Owning or working in small business can sometimes feel like a roller-coaster ride – there can be lots of highs and lows along the way. If this rings a bell you may be interested in participating in some research the Hunter Institute of Mental Health is doing into wellbeing challenges that might occur in small business.

The aim of the research is to gather information from people in Australia who currently work, or have worked in small business (less than 20 employees) to get your perspective on mental health within the workplace, accessibility of health programs, and the types of programs that may be most suitable.

The results will be used to guide development of new programs to enhance mental health and wellbeing in the small business industry. You don’t have to have experienced a mental health challenge; the confidential survey is available to everyone.

The survey is available here.

 

Consider your business policies, procedures, what risk assessments have been done, what control measures are in place, the legal arrangements governing safety, whether existing insurance cover is adequate and if it all goes wrong, how the business will respond to contain the risks.