What is The Role of Safe Work Australia? (2022 Update)

Jul 15, 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Zachary Swan
Depending on your industry, the workplace can be a dangerous environment. To ensure that employers are protected from potential hazards, employers have to take steps to minimise risk. Workplace accidents do still happen – in 2016, there were 182 worker fatalities. Further, if a workplace fatality occurs and you didn’t do everything to lower the risks, then you’ll be liable. In Australia, there are dedicated agencies which help ensure workplaces are safe environments. One of these agencies is Safe Work Australia (SWA).

What precisely is Safe Work Australia?

SWA is almost exactly what it appears to be rolling off the tongue. To put it simply, SWA is a government body that delivers national strategies to prevent workplace death, injury and also disease. In 2009 – 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted a survey on work-related injuries. A report examined the injuries of male and female workers of different ages and studied the results. The results found that in this period, 638,400 workers reported that they had experienced a work-related injury. Further, in percentage form, this amounts to almost 58% per 1000 workers. Many would take from this that the incidence of workplace injury is not as low as it should be. Subsequently, employers need to know just how important workplace safety is.

How does Safe Work Australia improve the safety of Australian workers?

SWA aims to improve the health and safety of people at work. They also deal with workers compensation in Australia on behalf of the commonwealth, states and territories – and their workers. As a government body it has many responsibilities. One of these is to draft legislation that may be taken on board by each of the states and territories. In addition, another function of SWA is to create national policies relating to occupational health and safety. Strategically, SWA uses and collects a mixture of data to adequately advise on the development of such policies. Likewise, if enacted, SWA will monitor their enforcement. SWA works to help improve cooperation and also the adherence to approved regulations. However, while SWA provides good information on Occupational Health and Safety for Australian workers, it sometimes lacks the ability to address issues for the self-employed. To address this, SWA has funded the the ABS to collect and study the results of ALL work – related injuries.

How can you get involved?

Thinking about getting involved and raising awareness of OHS issues in your workplace or community? Getting involved is simpler than you think. There are three main ways to get on board:
  • Register as a Safety Ambassador and hold an activity in your workplace
  • Attend an event held by your health and safety regulator
  • Download the safety month app for FREE from an app store by searching “Safe Work Australia safety month”
Don’t forget to also share your work health and safety ideas here.

How else can I minimise risk in the workplace?

Beyond understanding the legal framework for workplace safety, there’s more you can do at a grassroots level. One way is to have the right policies in place. Some of these policies include having a grievance policy, a drugs and alcohol policy and also a harassment and bullying policy. Having these in place will inform your employees that you take safety in the workplace seriously. Further, you’ll have a clear-cut procedure to follow if anything happens. Keeping your employees safe should be top priority if you’re an employer. Thankfully, there’s national agencies which will help you ensure you’re going about it the right way.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

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