Safety regulators need to improve their communication with small and medium businesses to ensure better workplace health and safety (WHS) practices and compliance across all Australian workplaces, a survey by Australia’s largest and most representative business network has found.

The annual workplace WHS survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was released today, the final day of 2023 Safe Work Month.

Smaller enterprises need help finding the correct information, ACCI director of health and safety Jennifer Low said.

“Low awareness of codes of practice and resourcing constraints also had an impact on implementation,” Ms Low said.

Fewer than one in five (17 per cent) of survey respondents reported interaction with a work health safety inspector over the past five years. Most of these interactions occurred with large companies.

One respondent, an ACT small business owner, said: “The number one problem we find is lack of help from an implementation point of view. We are a small trade services company, reading each and every WHS newsletter… and still we struggle to find what we need.”

The new WHS psychosocial regulations are a specific area of concern with respondents indicating risk management practices for these hazards are not well known or understood. Psychosocial hazards are anything that could cause psychological harm and include workplace conflict, bullying and harassment.

“The piece-meal introduction of these regulations and codes across states and territories has caused considerable confusion for employers, especially given the simultaneous and separate implementation of the Respect@Work report recommendations for sexual harassment,” Ms Low said.

Respondents also indicated there needed to be better communication of monitoring requirements for hazardous chemicals.

“Several campaigns have been conducted across states and territories to raise awareness of hazardous chemicals, but they have not reached their target. Information is available on what businesses need to do, but it is not easy to find, not consistent and doesn’t provide the how-to.”

Since 2018, ACCI has campaigned for better communication and implementation of WHS with small and medium businesses through the Part and Parcel campaign.

Ryan Clough

Media Adviser

P: 0262708020

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