7 tips for talking to your boss about safety

Raising a workplace safety concern with your boss can sometimes seem like a daunting prospect. Not doing so, however, can mean a dangerous incident goes unresolved, potentially injuring you or your workmates.

It could be something like a machine missing protective guards, dangerous movement of plant, poor housekeeping posing a trip hazard or speaking up if you see someone being bullied. Or perhaps you feel that your training for a particular task was inadequate or you need more help to do it safely.

Whatever the issue, it’s important to remember that every worker has a right to work in fair, just and safe workplaces. Your employer is obligated (as far as is reasonably practicable) to provide such an environment, but you still have to do your bit and speak up before it’s too late.

In most workplaces, your first port of call would be flagging a safety concern with a supervisor, health and safety or union representative. You might feel intimidated or awkward, but the few minutes it takes to talk – and hopefully find a solution – is nothing compared to the impact of an injury.

Here are a few tips for talking safety:

  • Before anything goes wrong, ask how a health and safety issue should be raised. Your boss may have a hazard reporting procedure in place.
  • Be positive and speak out of concern for you and your co-workers’ safety.
  • Be polite, respectful and avoid confrontational words.
  • Try not to put the boss on the spot.
  • Don’t blame your co-workers.
  • Keep your body language in check – for example, don’t cross your arms or point your finger.
  • If possible, suggest a potential solution for the problem you have raised.

Remember it’s against the law to be fired for raising a work health and safety issue.

Your boss may end up thanking you, as a safer and healthier workplace is one that is more profitable through reduced absenteeism, productivity and compensation claims. Plus workers will be happier knowing the boss is watching their backs so they can go home safe to loved ones every day.

Get some more tips and advice at safework.nsw.gov.au or call us on 13 10 50.

Safety in the saddle – do you know when to call it?

If you work with horses, you probably know someone who has been badly hurt, or you might have had a run-in yourself.

It’s not surprising given one worker is hospitalised every day in Australia due to a horse-related injury.

For every injured worker, another nine people are hurt.

New or inexperienced riders are particularly vulnerable in workplaces like riding schools, equestrian centres and trail riding businesses but even experienced riders can be caught off guard.

If someone gets seriously hurt at your business, you will have to make a call on whether the incident is notifiable, and if so, let SafeWork NSW know.

An incident might be unrelated to the type of work being carried out, like a severe electrical shock in the staff kitchen. Or it might involve horses directly such as being thrown or crushed, however, if someone is seriously injured – it’s notifiable.

A notifiable incident involves serious injury, illness, dangerous incidents and death.

If you are an employer, or other person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you should make sure you’re clear on what these four things are. Some examples of notifiable horse-related incidents include:

  • if someone falls off a horse and loses any bodily movement or consciousness (even momentarily) or suffers head trauma requiring medical treatment or hospital admission
  • if someone is badly cut and requires stitching or has any sort of spinal injury
  • if someone gets an infection through contact with animals you work with or come into contact with at work, e.g. Hendra Virus
  • if someone is bitten by a horse and is admitted to hospital or requires medical treatment
  • if someone has a ‘near miss’ which seriously endangers their or someone else’s health or safety.

In all cases – treat the injured person first – and then call SafeWork.

SafeWork’s Director of Business, Strategy and Performance, Christine Tumney, said notification results in better outcomes for prevention.

“Common injuries can be seen as normal risks of the job, but really, no one should be getting injured as a normal part of their day,” Ms Tumney said.

“In the three year period from 2008-11 there were 1,108 workers’ compensation claims for horse related-injuries and this picture of risk depends largely on notification.

“We need to know who is getting injured and why – and then we can work on reducing those risks and keeping people safe at work.

“Make sure you give us a call whether the injury happens to you, an employee, contractor or a member of the public.”

For further information about incident notifications visit safework.nsw.gov.au or call 13 10 50.