Why is OHS important?

There are five key reasons why everyone in your workplace should be concerned with occupational health and safety:

1. Everyone has a right go home safe

Every Australian has the right not to have their health and safety put at risk from work they carry out. Every Australian has the right to safe systems of work, and to not be forced to do work they reasonably consider unsafe.

2. Better work, better outcomes

It is well known that students perform better when the people working with them have high motivation and good morale.

Freedom from the risk of physical or psychological pain and disease and critical to high motivation and staff morale. Appropriate OHS in education is linked to improved morale‚ reduced sick leave‚ and improved retention of teachers and other staff.

OHS is an excellent way for the leadership team to demonstrate that they care about the wellbeing of their staff. This leads to fewer injuries‚ greater job satisfaction‚ increased motivation and better industrial relations – all of which adds up to better educational outcomes.

3. Education must be a ‘safe space’ in every community

Around Australia, local communities expect that people who attend a school or other educational institute – whether they are staff, students, parents or visitors – will go home safe and sound.

Places of education are widely recognised as ‘safe spaces’, and rightly so.

Everyone who works in education has a responsibility to model healthy and safe workplaces for their students – the employers and employees of the future.

4. Reducing costs

Improving OHS performance has a direct impact on a budget. Lower sick leave rates reduce the need to engage casual relief (CRT) teachers. Better staff retention lowers recruitment and replacement costs.

Appropriate OHS reduces the risk of public liability claims and has the potential to reduce WorkCover premiums.

5. Meeting legal obligations

The legal requirements in relation to health and safety are set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007.

All employers have a legal obligation to provide a healthy and safe workplace‚ so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.

Places of education also have a legal duty of care toward their students. Establishing a health and safety culture with effective OHS processes will help meet this duty of care.

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