Improving health and safety outcomes for health care and social assistance workers is the focus of a new WorkSafe strategy for the state’s fastest growing industry.
Published:30 July 2020
The sector employs more Victorians than any other, accounting for almost 15 per cent of the state's workforce, with most of those workers in frontline roles.
The industry is also among the state's most dangerous, attracting the most claims for workplace injuries in both 2018 and 2019, and recording six workplace fatalities in the past six years.
WorkSafe's Health Care and Social Assistance (HCSA) Industry Strategy 2020-23 aims to drive industry wide cultural change to make workplaces healthier and safer, reduce injuries and illness, and improve support for injured workers.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said WorkSafe and industry stakeholders had worked collaboratively to develop the strategy which puts the health, safety and wellbeing of workers on par with the protection and care of patients and clients.
"Health care and social assistance work can be physically and emotionally challenging and there needs to be a greater understanding that making the health and safety of workers a priority will ultimately lead to better quality care for patients and clients," Ms Nielsen said.
"Putting workers' health and safety at the forefront will also lead to more sustainable organisations and service delivery."
The strategy will specifically focus on the high risk sectors, hospital, residential care and home-based care, and the issues causing the most harm, hazardous manual handling, fatigue and occupational violence and aggression.
Ms Nielsen stressed the importance of consulting with workers about health and safety risks which may be present at the workplace and ensuring that workers are encouraged to report any health and safety concerns or incidents.
"Navigating these hazards is not simply part of the job," she said.
"It will require a collective effort to embed a positive culture and prevention-led approach in every health care and social assistance workplace, but the industry's rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates this is achievable."
WorkSafe has been working with key industry stakeholders to identify, plan and implement integrated programs and initiatives focused on workers in the highest risk sectors and workplaces.
This will build on WorkSafe's recent intervention strategies which have included an increase in inspector visits, a targeted engagement program, and a public awareness campaign to reduce occupational violence and aggression.
A monitoring and evaluation plan will also be developed to measure the success of the strategy in driving systemic improvement in the industry.
HCSA industry facts:
Employs 14.9% of all workers covered by the Victorian WorkCover Scheme
24.2% employment growth in last five years*
78.5% of workers in the industry are female*
4,090 accepted workplace injury claims in 2018/19, the most of any industry
Manual handling amounts to 41% of all claims
71% of claims are from workers aged 40 years and over