If you’ve ever stepped foot in a workplace, chances are you’ve heard of the term ‘WHS’ – but what is ‘WHS’ and why should it matter to you?

Workplace Health and Safety, or ‘WHS’, is a very broad term to determine a very significant issue; protecting the health and safety of all stakeholders in the workplace from exposure to hazards and risks resulting from work activities.  I know it’s tempting to zone out and downplay the importance of Workplace Health and Safety because nothing will ever happen to you…right?

Here are 5 facts that will give you cause for concern when reviewing current WHS policies and practices in your workplace.

1. Workplace Health and Safety Fatalities Are Real

Unfortunately many business’ underestimate the important in receiving and updating WHS training to implement into the policies and procedures of their workplace. This can often lead to complacency when completing tasks and that’s when accidents are most likely to occur!

In 2016 alone, 182 workplace related fatalities were recorded across Australia.

Of these recorded fatalities 168 were men and 14 were women – many of which could have been minimised, or even avoided, with an increased awareness of the importance in updating and implementing WHS training, policies and procedures.

2. East coast proves lethal

We all love the sun, sand, surf and various terrain that the east coast of Australia has to offer, however, beneath its beauty Queensland boasts a poor record when it comes to workplace fatalities.

The sunshine state proved the second deadliest, responsible for 45 of the 182 fatalities that occurred in 2016. Only New South Wales experienced more fatalities across the year, with the state recording a staggering 53 workplace-related deaths.

This means over 50% of all workplace fatalities in 2016 took place in Queensland and New South Wales!

3. Some industries are deadlier…

There are many factors that influence the level of hazards and risks associated with the workplace. Some factors such as poor house keeping, taking shortcuts and fatigue/overexertion can be managed through adopting many simple WHS steps to avoid the they pose to employees – but what about the more imposing, seemingly unavoidable potential hazards and risks that are necessary in many industries?

Agriculture, forestry and fishing with transport, postal and warehousing were the industries with the leading number of fatalities in 2016. Of the 182 recorded fatalities, these industries accounted for 44 and 47, respectively.

That means a whopping 50% of workplace fatalities occurred in these two industries alone!

4. These job roles are at a higher risk

If you work with machinery or transport, you might feel the need to look away. Machinery operators and drivers have the highest fatality rate – with 62 deaths recorded in 2016! That’s approximately 8.2 work-related fatalities per 100,000 employees in this job role. Scary stuff!

Interestingly, the second deadliest profession proved to be those in labouring positions. There were 40 labouring deaths recording in 2016, reflecting approximately 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers in this role.

Staggeringly this means 102 of the 182 workplace related fatalities were in these two professions alone! That’s over 55%!

5. It’s expensive not to make it a priority

Many employees and employers avoid proper training and education in areas such as WHS because of the associated costs of training and re-training personnel but choosing not to make WHS a priority could cost you more than you think.

In 2016, workplace injuries and fatalities were responsible for amassing $60 billion in expenses for the Australian Economy!

Cost vs. value is often open for debate but it’s hard to dispute that the value of proper and regular training in WHS policies and procedures to ensure the safety of employees and employers alike would amount to a greater expense than the financial, physical and emotional cost that workplace injuries and deaths often cause.

All employees and employers need to implement precautions and execute WHS strategies but it’s clear that certain industries and professions require a heightened sense of WHS awareness and education. Proper WHS education and implementation saves lives and prevents painful and expensive injuries.

At the end of the day, everybody should be arriving home safe at the end of the day.

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