Legislative Council: Thursday, October 19, 2023


Safe Work Month

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector. Will the minister inform the council about Safe Work Month?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:51): I thank the honourable member for his question in relation to safety at work. I know he has a very strong interest in this, having been, before entering this chamber, a protector of workers' safety as a union official.

October is a very exciting month; it is Safe Work Month. It marks an opportunity for work health and safety regulators and those involved in protecting the safety of workers from across Australia to raise awareness about health and safety issues and improve education in businesses to improve safety in their workplaces. The overarching theme of Safe Work Month 2023 is 'For everyone's safety, work safely'. Activities are taking place throughout this month in South Australia, organised by SafeWork, with each week of Safe Work Month in October having a different theme.

The first week of October is dedicated to 'Working together to manage risks at work'. Businesses are particularly encouraged to register for Wellbeing SA's challenges to increase physical activity—for example, to record their walking steps—and to increase wellbeing at work. SafeWork is running interactive presentations to simulate critical safety incidents, such as where a vehicle has lost a trailer. The incidents are used to explore how the incident unfolded, how it was managed and the investigation process used by SafeWork to identify where things have gone wrong.

The second week of October is entitled 'Working together to protect workers' mental health'. SafeWork have used that in various media, including a media report on the rise in retail staff still facing violence in the workplace and the need for additional training safeguards, particularly as they pertain to the mental health of workers.

Week three of Safe Work Month looks at 'Working together to support all workers'. SafeWork is running in-person workshops, in conjunction with the Civil Contractors Federation of South Australia, on health, safety and wellbeing. This is following SafeWork's previous workshops simulating critical incidents and running through a mock court process to demonstrate the legal processes for a work health and safety offence. The SafeWork team is also providing a webinar explaining new regulations dealing with psychosocial risks.

The final week of October is entitled 'Working together to ensure safe and healthy workplaces'. ReturnToWorkSA and SafeWork SA are running a workshop for employers, work health and safety managers and Return to Work coordinators who want to learn more about addressing, particularly, psychosocial hazards at work. SafeWork SA will also be running webinars on recently introduced regulations in relation to the uncontrolled dry cutting of engineered tabletop stone.

The breadth of activities being undertaken by SafeWork during Safe Work Month demonstrates the need to be vigilant about health and safety risks across a range of areas and a range of industries and environments affecting both physical and psychological health.

Throughout Safe Work Month, SafeWork will also be running the 'Organise your own workplace activity', a competition to promote and highlight the importance of work health and safety in the workplace. This particular competition encourages businesses to organise activities to raise awareness about the need to have a workplace free from both physical and psychological harms and includes a range of different activities, including morning teas, health checks and educational seminars.

Workplaces can register with SafeWork to go into the running for awards, and I would encourage all businesses to avail themselves of the activities that SafeWork runs during Safe Work Month.