Safe Work Month 2020

Sky Daly-Holt 28 September, 2020

October is Safe Work Month across the nation. Unsurprisingly, the theme this year is ‘Work Health and Safety through COVID-19’ highlighting the indelible mark this virus is leaving on work as we know it. 

Safe Work Australia is the national body responsible for health and safety at work, and workers’ compensation. Their website has a plethora of information to keep your business and employees safe during this month, and the other eleven months of the year. Information includes advice on physical distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, emergency planning, risk assessment how-to, as well as interesting case studies. Information is also broken down by state, to reflect the differing restrictions and rules in place. Helpful if your head is spinning from information overload!


Sobering statistics

Why is Safe Work Month important? We would all agree that everyone has the right to return home safely at the end of each workday. Sadly, there is still a way to go to realise this principle.

Last year:
- 15 people died at work each month
- Over 100,000 workers made a claim for serious work-related injury or illness

At Employ Health we cross paths, on occasion, with some of those 100,000 people. We work hard, in collaboration with our partners, to reduce the incidence of serious work-related injuries and to assist people to safely return to work in the event one has occurred. Yet, there is still more work to be done to transition workplaces from reactive, to proactive. October shines the spotlight on what can be done collectively to reduce these statistics.

Below, you will find state-specific information to help you put your proactive pants on, whatever your workplace looks like.


State-specific events

Mental health at work is certainly a feature this year and the silver lining on the COVID-cloud is there’s a fascinating selection of digital events. 



Worksafe QLD are offering all digital events during Safe Work Month for free. You heard right - free! Put those extra pennies in your piggy bank for when borders reopen. Their program is overflowing with thought-provoking events, and the best part - digital delivery means you can dial in from south of the border. No visa required.   

Program event highlights include:

- October 6:
Safer workplace? You need to understand your ‘unwritten ground rules’. 
This event will look at team and company culture, and why this can be hard to change.

- October 15:
Preventing secondary psychological injury with psychiatrist, Dr. Curtis Gray.
Targeted to return to work professionals, business leaders and employers. Learn prevention strategies to decrease time spent off work due to psychological injury.  



Safe Work NSW’s focus this year is safety in construction, and mental health at work. The reason for the focus on construction? It is one of NSW’s highest risk industries. If you need further convincing, in the past four years unsafe work practices in this state alone have seen thirty-three workers killed and over two thousand acquire permanent disabilities. 


There are two free virtual events planned, which will occur weekly throughout the month:

    1. Construction Site Supervisors Workshop: Module 1: Responsibilities and Influence 
      This will help participants understand:
      - roles and responsibilities for supervising on a construction or building site
      - health and safety responsibilities 
      - the benefits of positively influencing workers and others 
    2. Manual Handling Safety @ Work: Approaches to Prevent Injury
      - Aimed at employers to better manage hazardous manual tasks using the PErforM (Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks) program



WorkSafe Victoria will offer sixteen free virtual events for Safe Work Month, with a keen focus on promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace. Exciting presenters include CEO’s Sandro Demaio, of VicHealth and Tony Walker, from Ambulance Victoria.

Other uniquely Victorian events include:

- October 6th
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse session for Migrant Community Leaders
CultureVerse are hosting a webinar for multicultural community leaders to raise awareness of rights and responsibilities at work

- October 26th 
The importance of leadership in workplace mental health during COVID‐19 and beyond
What are the work-related factors needed to create a workplace supportive of mental health? Listen to how Ambulance Victoria’s leaders have helped create a culture supportive of mental wellbeing for staff and their families during this challenging time. 

Check out the full program of events



SafeWork SA are again holding the ‘Organise your own workplace activity’ competition with $500 prize money up for grabs. Get creative and incorporate workplace health and safety in a bespoke event, tailored to your workplace. For inspiration, check out last year’s winners.

With such a jam-packed program of national events, there are bound to be a few gold nuggets to apply to your workplace!