Should your small business be investing in health and safety management systems?

For some businesses, investing in the development of health and safety management systems is a no brainer.

In construction, mining, manufacturing, forestry and fishing and transport and storage industries – which have notoriously high fatality rates – there are usually strict protocols needed to keep employees safe.

But if your industry isn’t high risk, is it still worth investing in health and safety management systems? Would you be better off spending these funds on other parts of your small business instead?

Do you need health and safety management systems?

Whether employees are working with heavy machinery, visiting different worksites, helping customers in store, stationed at a desk or working from home, they are at risk of injury or illness in the workplace.

In Australia, the estimated proportion of workers who experienced a work-related injury or disease in 2017-18 was 4.2%. Alarmingly, every day there are around 1,500 Australians injured in the workplace.

Usually when we think about workplace injuries, our minds will go straight to the physical incidents such as trips, slips or falls. Many workplaces are familiar with these types of risks and how to mitigate them, whether that’s with Hi-Vis work wear, safety mechanisms on equipment, signage that brings attention to the risks or all of the above.

While mental health conditions are often far less obvious, as a business you want to make sure you aren’t overlooking this important aspect of your staff’s wellbeing. They are much more prevalent than they may appear, and it’s estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

During 2019-20, 14.3% of new claims with WorkSafe were for mental injury. This is 1.7% higher than in 2017-18.

Running a small business already comes with plenty of challenges, and you may be hesitant to take on another task or commitment. But cutting corners with health and safety isn’t the answer. Taking shortcuts now can be highly detrimental in the long run. It can lead to not only putting your employees in harms way – when this could have been avoided – but also exposing your business to costly fines or an expensive court case if an incident does occur.

Health and safety management systems give businesses confidence that they’re meeting their minimum obligations as an employer. They also show they’re willing to go above and beyond to make the wellbeing of their employees a priority, and that they are committed to continual improvement.

3 reasons to invest in health and safety management systems

1. Keeping your employees safe

Keeping employees out of harms way in the workplace is the most obvious – and important – benefit of health and safety management systems.

These systems put risk management and the minimisation of workplace risks at their centre. This means organisations are proactively taking steps to make their workplace as safe as it can be, which puts them in the best possible position to mitigate threats and prevent incidents from happening.

Staff members also receive all suitable health and safety training to ensure they have a strong understanding of company processes and that they have the skills and knowledge to navigate different risks in the workplace safely.

2. Reducing business costs

Investing in health and safety systems can have financial benefits for businesses down the line.

Risk mitigation and fewer serious incidents often results in less paid time off work for injury or illness. There’s also no need to hire and train temporary replacements as frequently, because incidents are few and far between.

In addition, fewer incidents means less serious health and safety claims. At times the legal costs and fines from these cases can be in the millions.

3. Increasing productivity

When a business implements a health and safety system, there is a strong focus on alleviating inefficiencies and continually making improvements to systems. This ongoing and proactive approach helps organisations get on top of risks early and before they evolve into deeply rooted issues.

If an incident does happen, employees are well trained on how to handle them and can respond quickly and effectively.

If you’d like to find out more about health and safety systems, our blog on how to build robust systems with ISO 45001 compliance is a great place to start.

Speak with a health and safety management system consultant

To find out more about health and safety management systems, get in touch with our team of Australia-wide consultants. We help businesses across a wide range of industries develop lean, low burden systems.

Our team also has experience with a range of other services including integrated management systemsISO internal audits and ISO gap analysis.

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