Safe Work Australia releases new national WHS strategy

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 26 February, 2023 - 12:15
Policy & legislation
National News

Safe Work Australia recently released a new 10-year national strategy to reduce workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in Australia.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033 sets a national vision of safe and healthy work for all and provides a platform for delivering key work health and safety (WHS) improvements.

The strategy was developed under Safe Work Australia’s tripartite governance processes and has been agreed upon by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and it represents a national commitment to work together to reduce worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses over the next decade.

The strategy outlines targets to measure progress over the next 10 years, including reducing:

  • worker fatalities caused by traumatic injuries by 30 per cent
  • frequency rate of serious claims resulting in one or more weeks off work by 20 per cent
  • frequency rate of claims resulting in permanent impairment by 15 per cent
  • overall incidence of work-related injury or illness among workers to below 3.5 per cent
  • frequency rate of work-related respiratory disease by 20 per cent

The strategy also has a target of no new cases of accelerated silicosis by 2033.

Two proactive action targets of the strategy are to increase the awareness of PCBUs about their duty to protect workers from exposure to harmful substances, and to build the capability of PCBUs, regulators and workers to ensure compliance with the duty to manage psychosocial hazards at work.

“Jurisdictions, industry groups, WHS researchers, experts, practitioners and workers all have a role to play in realising progress under the strategy,” said Safe Work Australia Chair, Joanne Farrell.

“I invite everyone in the work health and safety system to play a part in realising the ambitious outcomes set by the Strategy.”

Safe Work Australia Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Baxter, said that while data shows that fatal and serious injuries at work have declined over the last decade, Australian workers are still getting sick and injured, sometimes fatally, from work.

“The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033 addresses ongoing and emerging challenges in work health and safety over the next decade, including managing psychosocial risks, the rise of artificial intelligence, automation and related technologies, and new types of work including gig work,” said Baxter.

The AIHS endorsed the new Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023-2033 and said in a statement that it was committed to supporting the vision of the new strategy.

“It may be a small note in the purpose and scope, but the recognition that this strategy should also contribute to the work and understanding of all in the WHS system including researchers, experts and practitioners who play a role in owning, contributing to, and realising the national vision is an important reminder of the critical role of our profession,” said Naomi Kemp, Chair of the AIHS.

“The AIHS looks forward over the next decade to continuing our commitment to healthier, safer workplaces and communities,” Kemp said.