Safety First - a Business Imperative

03 March 2015

What do the Foo Fighters, the Monster Truck Rumble, the Future Music Festival and South Australian Cricket Association, have in common? All have engaged Business SA to review, plan and help implement workplace health and safety regimes to ensure public safety and enjoyment at major sporting and cultural events. 


While the events and activities involved may be as varied as the interests and social life of South Australians, one theme remains constant – the imperative of creating and maintaining a safe environment.


Business SA’s consulting arm has been contracted by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society to advise on safety issues for most events staged at the Showgrounds in recent years, and senior Work Health and Safety (WHS) consultant, Paul Ploenges, has just completed a successful assignment for the Monster Truck Rumble.


Ploenges, a former safety inspector with Safework SA, says the approach to an event like the Monster Truck Rumble is similar to other situations. Against a background of extensive knowledge of the WHS legislative requirements, Ploenges collaborates with the event safety coordinators ahead of an event, reviews their safety plans, identifies potential risks and offers advice on solutions. He, or one of the three members of the WHS team at Business SA, would then be on hand during an event to ensure everything runs smoothly and that crowds, who may number tens of thousands at a Test cricket match, for example, leave the venue in a safe manner without incident.


Ploenges says major public events like the Monster Truck Rumble have myriad details to be considered within such broad risk categories as the event activities, public access, parking, entertainment (like a fireworks display) and catering.


“We are ensuring that a sound safety system is in place to protect employees and the public who will be attending an event,” Ploenges told Business InSight.


In the unfortunate situation where an accident may occur, the Business SA WHS team advises clients – who may or may not be members of the organisation – on how to meet their regulatory and reporting requirements and may recommend workplace changes to reduce the risk that such a situation could occur again. They also ensure that knowledge gained from an accident is disseminated widely so that other organisations can benefit from the information.


There has been significant change to workplace safety in South Australia since 1 January 2013 when the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare (OHS) Act 1986 was replaced with the Work Health and Safety Act (WHS) 2012.


While maximum penalties have increased tenfold from $300,000 to $3,000,000 and individuals can be imprisoned for up to 5 years, Ploenges says there is also more flexibility in the regime where positive outcomes for employees and a business can be achieved without necessarily going down the path of a prosecution.


Ploenges says the most common safety risk factors that he encounters in SME workplaces include:


• Ladders that are rated as domestic use and in poor condition posing a significant risk of head, leg, back arm and shoulder injuries from falls,


• First aid kits not maintained with products, particularly antiseptics and eye wash water, being out of date*,


• Lack of emergency planning for fire risks in bushfire prone areas and security in the hospitality or health industries where violence could occur,


• Tripping and slip hazards,
• Poor office workstation set ups where workers who are desk bound are doing repetitive actions such as data entry that result in overuse injuries, and


• Manual tasks where a lot of lifting and use of physical force is required, more than 42% of all workplace injuries are related to hazardous manual tasks.


“Giving the appropriate attention to these issues substantially reduces the risk of injury to employees which is the objective of our WHS regime, and businesses can avoid the potentially very high cost of an accident or injury on site,” Ploenges said.
Full details of the services that Business SA offers can be found at here and Business SA members can log into the member portal for a free WHS checklist .


*Business SA is strongly supporting a new campaign by St John to raise awareness about the importance of having proper first aid facilities.


“Small businesses in particular often don’t have the resources or the time to be fully conversant with the raft of different regulations that they have to comply with,” Business SA Chief Executive, Nigel McBride, said.


“Business SA is always keen to help members understand their compliance obligations and we’ll be working alongside St John to highlight what is required of businesses and the benefits,” he said.


Find out more from St John about first aid compliance in the workplace.


InDaily Adelaide 
Content supplied by Business SA