Barbara Schmidt, a private mental health worker, and Patricia Wilson (front), an advisory officer with WorkCover, which offers free safety audits to help small businesses.
Barbara Schmidt, a private mental health worker, and Patricia Wilson (front), an advisory officer with WorkCover, which offers free safety audits to help small businesses. Jacklyn Wagner

Danger busters at work

A SAFE business is a good business, says WorkCover business advisory officer Patricia Wilson.

Yet in 2006/07 there were 140,203 injuries reported in NSW workplaces, with small business identified as an area of risk.

Ms Wilson said that apart from the devastating impact workplace accidents could have on families, it was also bad for business through productivity losses and low staff morale.

“A safe workplace is particularly important for small businesses,” she said. “If they have, say five staff, and one of them is injured that’s a 20 per cent reduction in staff and production.

“It also leads to higher costs for the employer, increased premiums across the industry, higher replacement costs and there can be some financial penalties involved with breaching the legislation and damage to the reputation of the company.”

It can be hard for a small business operator to devote time and money to addressing safety issues – knowing just where to start.

To assist, WorkCover is now offering free safety audits for small businesses and a $500 rebate to purchase such items as mechanical lifting aids, ergonomic furniture and even a stress mat for pole dancers.

“The goal of our program is to build the capability and capacity of small businesses to manage their workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation responsibilities,” Ms Wilson said.

Many North Coast businesses have already taken up the offer of an advisory visit, with Ms Wilson conducting 60 so far this year.

Once a workplace has had a visit and the employer attends a free safety workshop, the business becomes eligible for the rebate.

“It’s been an encouraging response,” Ms Wilson said, adding that NSW now had the lowest number of workplace injuries for 20 years.

But she is not satisfied and would like to push the number lower, particularly on the North Coast

Ms Wilson urged all small businesses to take up the rebate offer, which is open to all companies that employ up to 20 people.

SAFETY WORKSHOPS
  • Byron Bay

Tomorrow, 10am to midday at Byron Bay Community Centre.

  • Goonellabah

November 25, 9.30am to 11.30am at Lismore Workers Sports Club.

  • Murwillumbah

November 26, 9.30am to 11.30 am at Canvas and Kettle Restaurant, Murwillumbah Civic Centre.



$6.5m development planned for East Lismore

premium_icon $6.5m development planned for East Lismore

The development has 25 lots and will house 61 people

How a few phone calls led to 40 hay bales being donated

premium_icon How a few phone calls led to 40 hay bales being donated

Local farmers, business owners join forces to help those in need

Colour run a bright idea to support community

premium_icon Colour run a bright idea to support community

St John's College Woodlawn will soon bring the colour run to Lismore

Local Partners