The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service employs roughly 100 staff, who spend hours above the skies to save more than 1000 lives per year from its bases in Newcastle and Tamworth.
While their brave jobs are frequently in the spotlight, it’s the tireless role of the 950 volunteers that work behind the scenes that is perhaps less known.
These volunteers are crucial to the future of the service so it’s absolutely vital that the organisation looks after not only the safety of their rescue staff, but also their great volunteers.
“We need to ensure that not only our staff, but also our volunteers go home in the same shape that they came to work in,” said Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, Community Liaison Officer and WHS Committee member, Mick Wilson.
When they started to develop a new plan this year to ensure the safety of their volunteers, Mr Wilson said his organisation turned to SafeWork NSW’s Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022 (Roadmap) for inspiration.
Launched in August, the Roadmap is a six-year strategy aimed at protecting workers from harm, reducing unnecessary compliance costs and securing safety standards in NSW workplaces.
Mr Wilson said that the Roadmap had provided his organisation with a clear outline in terms of how to improve safety outcomes for their staff and volunteers.
“The fact that it highlights a need to reduce musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses was a big influencer for us. The work our staff and volunteers do involves a lot of manual handling and we all know simple things can become long term injuries if they’re not addressed in a safe manner. The support from Safework NSW to assist has also been amazing.” Mr Wilson said.
Since its launch in August, SafeWork NSW has already started a wide range of activities that are contributing to the goals of a 20 per cent decline in worker fatalities, a 30 per cent decline in serious injuries and illnesses and a 30 per cent reduction in serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses by 2022.
In a little over three months since the Roadmap launch, SafeWork NSW has already accomplished a significant amount as well as planning and development of new activities and initiatives to support the Roadmap.
To help ensure that businesses can embed a health and safety landscape into their workplaces, SafeWork NSW has developed the Talking to your workers about safety webinar, and has started work on a Supply Chain and Network Guide as well as a Consultation@Work Strategy.
SafeWork NSW is also focused on prioritising high risk sectors, harms and workplaces. Work has started on drafting sector profiles to provide data on risks, issues and demographics for high risk sectors identified in the Roadmap. The NSW quad bike safety improvement program and forklift safety initiatives will also continue well into 2017.
SafeWork NSW recognises the cost and impact of mental disorders and is currently reviewing and engaging with stakeholders on our Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy 2022. Our approach to targeting serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses is also under review with a new strategy planned for early in 2017.
Finally, SafeWork NSW is focused on building exemplar regulatory services. Further details can be found in Our Approach to WHS Regulation.
The recent release of the SafeWork NSW Strategic Business Plan 2016-17 aligns with the Roadmap and provides details on the four strategic focus areas of SafeWork NSW for 2016/17.
For more information on the Roadmap, or to get involved, click here.