Employees are being empowered to report risky practices at their workplace through a new government app, but an employment agency has warned it could lead to a spike in dob-ins that bypass internal consultations.
SafeWork NSW on Wednesday announced the launch of the state’s new mobile workplace safety reporting system, called “Speak up. Save lives”.
The app allows employees to send up to three photos directly to SafeWork NSW, demonstrating unsafe practices or risky situations.
It also incorporates a GPS locator, providing an exact location. Users are sent a receipt to confirm lodgement of their concerns if they provide contact details, but reports can be lodged anonymously.
NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the app “will give workers an easy, protected and fast way to report any [workplace] health and safety problems they may be facing, direct to SafeWork NSW from their mobile device”.
“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and everyone should feel confident they can report unsafe conditions. This new tool provides another way for workers to notify SafeWork NSW of a safety concern which may impact their own wellbeing and that of their workmates,” he said.
“Having seen the devastation workplace deaths and serious injury can have on the community, I would like to see workers play a more active role in making workplaces safer so everyone makes it home at the end of their shift.”
Mr Anderson said that businesses are still required to report all notifiable incidents immediately by calling SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50.
Earlier this month, My Business reported that 116 Australians had been killed at work so far this year to 26 September.
That figure has sadly grown to 121 as of 10 October 2019, according to Safe Work Australia — 10 more than the same time last year, reversing what had been a downward trend in the number of fatalities.
Effectiveness of app in question
While acknowledging that “no one should go to work and never return home”, Employsure’s senior workplace health and safety manager, Larry Drewsen, questioned the effectiveness that could be achieved through this new reporting tool.
“In principle, a forum for workers to have easy access to report issues to the regulator is a positive initiative, particularly in situations where issues are not being addressed by management,” he said.
“However, my concern is that because of the ease of access, workers will be more inclined to go straight to the regulator and bypass the consultation process, thus undermining one of the key objectives of the health and safety system.
“My real fear is that issues may not be addressed until the regulator, who is already stretched, is able to respond. The potential consequences [there will be] injuries that may have otherwise been prevented through the consultative process.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.