Proactive, Clear and Solution-Oriented Workplaces

Every employee has the right to a safe and healthy workplace. As an employer, are you aware of whether your systems, processes, and practices are legally compliant? 

Health and safety at the workplace cover a wide range  of issues, including how to protect vulnerable employees, mitigating against psychosocial hazards, ensuring the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, addressing harassment and bullying, and more.

An employer must take a holistic approach that considers a range of issues, including: 

  • conducting mandatory inspections
  • properly addressing complaints
  • providing ongoing training and development for employees
  • meeting mandatory reporting and notification requirements. 

Additionally, there are also sector-specific requirements that you need to be aware of, as changes in the law can have serious consequences.

In recognition of National Safe Work Month, we would like to highlight four things you must do to ensure you continue to keep your workplace safe and healthy, regardless of your industry sector.

Be proactive about abolishing sexual harassment at your workplace

Did you know that an estimated 1.7 million Australians were sexually harassed in 2021-22? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report released in August this year, nearly half (45 per cent) of the 1.3 million women who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months experienced multiple sexual harassment behaviours.

The Workplace Equality and Respect process identifies four key steps you can take to assess your business, identify priority areas and then, implement actions. This includes: 

  • readiness assessment
  • project planning 
  • benchmarking and diagnostics 
  • action planning and review

Ensure WHS, bullying and harassment are mandatory agenda items at team meetings

All team meetings, large or small, should ensure that conversations around workplace health and safety, and in particular, on bullying and harassment, are recurring agenda items. 

These need not take up the majority of the time but inclusion serves to keep everyone on the same page in terms of awareness and prioritisation. A quick check-in on things that may be only just surfacing can therefore be caught before it becomes a much larger issue.

Make available a workplace ‘ombudsman’

An ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against a company or an organisation, typically a public authority.  Making available a workplace “ombudsman” allows for bullying and harassment complaints to be raised and addressed within the workplace. 

This should be addressed by a trained contact officer with regular internal reporting to the management team. This sends an unequivocal message to all employees that the organisation takes these concerns seriously.

Communicate and train all employees that it’s their responsibility to speak up

Every employee in an organisation has a role to play. So while most of the ideas here address the responsibilities and commitments required of the employer, the organisation should take positive steps to ensure that all of its employees understand their role clearly. 

Often, employees are at the front lines when issues or incidents arise. Employees should therefore be made aware and trained regularly as to their responsibility in being vigilant and speaking up against bullying and harassment. These should be communicated through the usual channels such as during an employee’s onboarding, addressed in the employee handbook as well as through regular communication and training sessions.

Wurth HR offers consulting and training on all of the areas above. Feel free to contact us if you have questions about any of the above matters or require guidance on the specific steps your business needs to take.
Contact David Wurth for an obligation-free discussion at 1300 900 741.