CIP Conference - 1 September 1998

WorkSafe WA 2000 Vision and Plan

Hyatt Regency Perth WA

Neil Bartholomaeus, Commissioner WorkSafe WA
Mr Neil Bartholomaeus
WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner

Summary of key observations made by Mr Bartholomaeus in addressing this CIP seminar.

The full presentation paper and useful links.

Vision 2000 was created by WorkSafe in 1995 to encourage W.A. enterprises to develop best practice in safety and health by year 2000. WA now has the lowest work related injuries and fatalities in Australia. Their target, of having the safest workplaces in the world, is being helped by "firm but fair" enforcement of regulations which is now combined with a public awareness and education program.

Enforcement of the Occupational Safety & Health Act may result in improvement notices that must be issued by Inspectors for non-compliance that cannot be rectified at that time. Prohibition notices may also be issued. Prosecution however is used only in the last resort and these were reduced last year. Mr Bartholomaeus, said there was prospect for using codes of practice to substantially reduce regulations with industry encouraged to develop its own codes of practice. Broadly, WorkSafe actively encourages workplace auditing and systems that promote best practice.

WorkSafe has promoted the WorkSafe Plan as a management tool for assessing effectiveness of S&H management systems with a system of awards that is being widely adopted.

Public education is being addressed by the ThinkSafe Plan promoted through the popular media helped by videos and hand-out material. It aims for a seven day, 24 hour awareness of safety as a cultural shift. Such campaigns, are not only more desirable for achieving the aim of its Vision, it would also address the large pool of self-employed people with a high injury rate.

A major thrust underpinning the success of WorkSafe, has been the use of the Internet. Its Internet site has become the largest of its kind in the world and used to publish all relevant documents. The Internet has reduced costs for WorkSafe and, in better utilising its resources, has enabled extensive training and awareness programs. Its WorkSafe Smart Move program already had 20 000 grauduates from secondary schools. Notable of the new programs is the development of the SafetyLine Institute with tertiary level lectures and tests with on-line certificates for graduates.

Mr Bartholomaeus said the outstanding performance of Western Australia, as measured by reductions in injuries and fatalities, can be attributed to the State having the greatest safety awareness in Australia.

WorkSafe has developed international recognition and has promoted an network which is active in China and other Asian countries.

Editor: WorkSafe has clearly become a world leader by tapping into new technology and moving from the traditional route. With innovation and leadership, it is achieving better returns from its limited resources and promoting a fundamental shift from the "legal cudgel" to education and awareness programs. It is not surprising that WorkSafe is now spearheading overseas activities by West Australian specialists.

As well known, firms with high safety standards also tend to perform better in commerce; and safety and economics cannot be divorced (as well illustrated by Coode Island). WorkSafe is sending powerful signals overseas in promoting Australia's excellence with direct and indirect benefits to the country.

As I have variously indicated, including at the August 1998 Chemicals Summit, it is interesting to speculate what an Australian government agency might achieve in promoting investment in the chemical industry by a similar visionary approach.

An effective national chemical industry strategy for Australia is past due. One of the most important roles for Australian govenments is to facilitate visionary leadership independent of secular politics.

WorkSafe is an outstanding model of what can be achieved in being flexible and visionary.

Prepared by Remco Van Santen
2 September 1998
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