Working on construction sites, in plant rooms and with tools and other technologies can present significant risks to workers and the broader community. Added to these physical risks are concerns regarding the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse within the industry. As a result, employers are taking on expanded responsibilities with respect to the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff. To effectively manage these risks and responsibilities, employers must be supported by a regulatory regime that provides clarity and consistency across jurisdictions, prioritises prevention through training and education, and commits to stronger enforcement of workmanship quality and safety standards.
The AMCA believes the following principles are vital to providing safer, healthier and more productive workplaces:
- The health and safety of people must be the priority of all businesses, especially those working in complex and dynamic environments such as building and construction.
- It is the responsibility of both employers and employees to ensure that health and safety risks are eliminated or reduced to the maximum extent possible.
- Industry must adapt to changing community expectations with respect to workplace health and safety obligations, including sensitive issues such as domestic violence and mental health.
- The expansion of community expectations with respect to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) responsibilities presents significant challenges for businesses. It is therefore vital that government work with industry to ensure that expectations are clear, regulation is streamlined, and that businesses are supported to deal with issues outside of their expertise.
- Health and safety risks are best managed before incidents arise; therefore, government policy and industry engagement should prioritise initiatives that prevent risks from occurring.
- Given the importance of workplace health and safety, it must not be allowed to be used as a proxy by parties seeking to prosecute an ulterior workplace relations agenda.