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National Safe Work Month 2021

This year for National Safe Work Month, we’re focusing on: Think safe. Work safe. Be safe.

October is a time to commit to building a safe and healthy workplace.

Every year we support Safe Work Australia in promoting National Safe Work Month. This year they are asking workers and employers across Australia to commit to safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians.

On this page you can find resources, guidance and information to help navigate work during a pandemic. You can also register for one of our free webinars.

How you can get involved

Each week we will focus on themes that promote and enable healthy and safe work with relevant guidance, resources and upcoming webinars listed below.

Leadership during times of COVID-19

Strong leadership and supporting workers during COVID-19 is essential. It’s not only employers who can demonstrate leadership during the pandemic.

Employers and workers need to be aware of their responsibilities and entitlements during COVID-19; both have duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) to ensure a safe working environment.

Broadly, employers have duties to:

  • provide and maintain a work environment that is without risk to health and safety
  • provide adequate and accessible facilities for the welfare of workers to carry out their work
  • monitor the health of workers and the conditions of the workplace to prevent illness or injury.

Workers’ duties under the WHS Act include:

  • taking reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • taking reasonable care their acts or omissions don’t adversely affect the health and safety of others
  • complying as far as they are reasonably able with the employer’s reasonable instruction.

For more information on duties, see Your role.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
    Employers and workers need to be aware of their responsibilities and entitlements.

    Find out more

  • Fact sheets and infographics
    Practical information to help organisations and individuals manage workplace risks from the pandemic

    Available here

  • National guidance
    Latest information about current restrictions in your state or territory, travel and border arrangements and government resources

    Learn more

Fostering mentally healthy workplaces

Mental health is a level of wellbeing where people can cope with ordinary work and life pressures.

To help foster a mentally healthy workplace, we have guidance, resources and tools for workers and workplaces.

In the workplace we know that good work is good for our mental health and wellbeing. A healthy and safe workplace provides structure and purpose, a sense of identity, and opportunities to develop skills and increased feelings of self-worth.

Workplace mental health statistics

  • 1 in 5 Australian workers have a mental health condition
  • Poor mental health costs Australian businesses $11 billion per year
  • Every $1 invested in a mentally healthy workplace has a Return on Investment of $2.30.

Everyone has a responsibility in the workplace to:

  • Reasonably comply with health and safety instructions
  • Take reasonable care of their own mental health
  • Take reasonable care that their actions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other people.

  • Psychosocial hazards
    Information on bullying, fatigue, stress, remote work and poorly managed organisational change.

    Find out more

  • Employees experience workplace stigma
    Due to mental health stigma, workers often do not disclose or seek help at work. Supporting and providing a common langauge is key for better health outcomes in the long term.

    Available here
  • Enhanced manager confidence and capability
    Enhanced manager confidence and capability is needed to create a safe culture of understanding and support. Managers play an essential role in supporting employee mental health.

    Learn more

  • Workplace factors including job exposure
    Workplace factors can cause unnecessary stress and can lead to psychological injury for workers. A systematic approach is necessary in preventing negative mental health outcomes.

    Learn more

  • Recovery and return to work are more complex
    Complexities in recovery and return to work processes can negatively impact health outcomes for workers. A focus on early intervention and evidence-based treatment is fundamental to a speedy recovery.

    Learn more

Maintaining safe and healthy work

There is strong evidence that participating in good work is good for mental and physical health and wellbeing. There are a number of benefits to maintaining safe and healthy work.

There are ways to create safe and healthy work.

Intervene early and know the warning signs

Consider good work design when you plan

  • One of the best ways to prevent and control workplace injuries is to adopt good work design principles and minimise hazards early in the idea planning phases.

Support a workplace health and safety management system

  • We know that creating the right work environment and managing potential sources of harm, such as high work demands, low levels of control and poor support, can benefit everyone at work.
  • A workplace health and safety management system can minimise the risk of injury and illness from workplace operations. It is one of the most effective ways to make sure health and safety is embedded across your organisation and is a part of everything you do.

For more information, see support a workplace health and safety management system.

  • Intervene early and know the warning signs
    The earlier you notice an employee is experiencing potential signs of ill health or injury, the sooner you can take steps to help them. Acting early is critical to the recovery process.

    Find out more

  • Workplace health and safety management system
    A workplace health and safety management system is a set of policies, procedures and plans that systematically manages health and safety at work and can help to minimise the risk of injury and illness from workplace operations.

    Available here

  • Good work design
    One of the best ways to prevent and control workplace injuries is to minimise hazards early in the idea planning and design phase.

    Learn more

  • Investing in experience
    Workplaces are key to keeping people of all ages employed, healthy and productive.

    Learn more

  • Office safety tool
    Identify health and safety risks in your work or home office.

    Learn more

Sexual harassment prevention in the workplace

Comcare’s purpose is to promote and enable safe and healthy work. We recognise workplace sexual harassment as a psychosocial hazard which has the potential to cause workers psychological or physical harm. Sexual harassment is unlawful under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and is also prohibited by state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

Sexual harassment is defined in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) as being any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or conduct of a sexual nature where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Workplace sexual harassment is not defined in the WHS Act. However, employers have a duty under the Act to eliminate or manage hazards and risks to the health and safety of workers, including to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Managers and supervisors can advocate the use of these support services for workers:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732
  • Sexual Assault Services
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue Support Service 1300 22 4636
  • For employers covered by Comcare, make an inquiry or seek advice via whs.help@comcare.gov.au or call us on 1300 366 979.
  • If anyone in the workplace is in immediate danger, call the Police on 000.
  • If workers are not in immediate danger and would like to make an enquiry or report, call the Police on 131 444.

View our Building a culture of respect: Workplace sexual harassment - never part of the job webinar.

  • Regulatory and practical guidance
    Comcare has guidance to help employers, managers and supervisors and workers prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment and comply with their duties under the WHS Act.

    Find out more

  • Safe Work Australia Guidance
    Safe Work Australia has national guidance on workplace sexual harassment and accompanying guidance on workplace bullying.

    Available here

  • Australian Human Rights Commission resources
    Australian Human Rights Commission also has a range of resources available

    Learn more

Get the latest news about our webinars

You can register for one of our three free webinars below. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive more information and speakers details as they are announced.

Subscribe to eNews

12 October 2021
2.00pm –  3.00pm  (AEDT)

Managing psychosocial hazards and risks.

Learn more about how psychosocial hazards and risks impact workers and how you can effectively manage them. This webinar will include practical, solutions-based content drawing on the data, insights and challenges faced by employers in psychosocial risk and hazard management.

This webinar will feature Comcare guest presenters:

  • Tom Dawson, Director Regional Operations SA/NT
  • Michael Dubravac, Senior Inspector Regional Operations VIC/TAS

Justin Napier, General Manager Regulatory Operations Group, will MC this webinar.

Registration is closed. A recording will be available soon.

22 October 2021
11.00am –  12.00pm (AEDT)

Leadership and resilience in changing times.

How important is leadership, workplace culture and resilience during difficult circumstances? Join Dr. Brendan Murphy, Secretary, Department of Health, as we explore how we can apply these learnings to our decision making and lead our teams in changing times.

This webinar will feature presenters:

  • Dr. Brendan Murphy, Secretary, Department of Health
  • Sue Weston, Chief Executive Officer, Comcare

Natalie Bekis, General Manager Strategic Partnerships and Engagement, Comcare will MC this webinar.

27 October 2021
11.00am –  12.00pm  (AEDT)

Maintaining safe and healthy workplaces into the future.

Join us as we explore the future of work and what we can do as workers and workplaces to embrace change. This webinar will feature a guest speaker and includes practical steps to take as we move into the future with a focus on communication, consultation and risk management.

Guest speaker details will be confirmed soon.

Page last reviewed: 01 October 2021
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GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 18 Oct 2021