In 2016 alone, 182 people lost their lives in work-related incidents, according to Safe Work Australia. Claims for serious injuries meanwhile sit at more than 100,000 each year.
According to Employsure, 81 per cent of Australian SMEs don’t fully grasp their obligations on workplace safety and employee wellbeing.
“Business owners want to do the right thing but we hear from them daily that they feel crippled by the complexity of what they are required to do,” said Larry Drewsen, Employsure’s senior workplace health and safety consultant.
“Businesses want to improve their workplace safety, particularly around improved documentation, managing bullying, training staff and responding to an injury. They want to do more, but often don’t know how.”
Mr Drewsen said the red tape was strangling business owners. Employsure’s Workplace Safety Index found that just 20 per cent of business leaders are confident in implementing their workplace safety plan, and less than half (46 per cent) are clear on how they can manage bullying in the workplace.
Fewer than 60 per cent also know what to do should an employee be injured on the job.
Small employers in particular are grappling to understand the legal requirements imposed on them, with Mr Drewsen stating that more than a third admitted to relying on Google for the answers to their questions.
“With about five million Australians employed by small businesses, it’s so important that we support small business to get safety right. It isn’t just a workplace issue; it’s a national issue,” said Mr Drewsen.
More information on World Day for Health and Safety at Work, to be held on Saturday 28 April, can be found on the Safe Work Australia website, which also has detailed information about compliance and worker’s compensation.