While awareness about risk management and injury prevention has never been higher, we continue to see preventable workplace injuries and fatalities occurring at an alarming rate.

In fact, in 2016, more than 120 Australians lost their lives at work, and each time the same question was asked – how could this happen?

According to EML Mutual Benefits Partnership Manager Kirsty Smith there are multiple reasons that preventable injuries take place at otherwise good companies, with good employees.

“We rationalise our actions,” she says.

“Sometimes we can be blind to our own errors in judgement and as a result we don’t fully see the consequences to our actions.

“The best example of this is not reporting a risk we see in the workplace because someone else will do it, nothing will come of it or that’s just the way it is.

Another pitfall is focusing too heavily on compliance.

“Sometimes we just go through the motions to tick a box and say that we have done the right thing, we don’t value workplace safety and risk management instead seeing it as something to keep the WHS or HSR rep off our back,” says Ms Smith.

More than ever, it’s important for organisations to implement strategies to actively prevent workplace accidents and promote safety.

Ms Smith says it’s crucial to take an organisation-wide approach.

“All levels of management need to take a safety-first approach so that messaging and expectations are consistent.

“Define safety responsibilities – each level within your organisation should know what their role and responsibility is regarding safety.”

Accountability should be enforced to ensure that all measures are adhered to.

“Making safety an inherent requirement of the role allows employees to own it and ensures it can be monitored in the same way every other KPI is.

“Integrate safety into operational duties rather than treating it as an add-on.”

Making company safety goals as clear as possible will help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

“Make it easy for employees to report issues and provide open and honest feedback about their concerns and observations. 

“Avoid a culture of blame that encourages mistakes and near-misses to be buried.”

Don’t forget to celebrate your successes!

“Make your successes public to keep everyone motivated and on-track to achieve the goals outlines.”