Safety First

One aged care provider has pledged a public commitment to new national OH&S laws more than a year ahead of the national schedule.

The Salvation Army’s Aged Care Plus has announced a new zero-tolerance approach to unsafe workplaces in line with the new national workplace safety harmonisation laws due to be introduced on 1 January 2012.

Senior managers and board members of the Salvation Army’s Eastern Australia Division, comprising, New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland, gathered in Sydney yesterday to sign a formal commitment to the new policy in the presence of Workcover NSW CEO, Lisa Hunt.

Aged Care Plus CEO, Sharon Callister said the initiative made The Salvation Army one of the first aged care providers to adopt a national Occupational Health and Safety policy in line with the Federal Government’s National Harmonisation legislation, more than a year ahead of the Federal Government’s deadline.  She said this reflected a proactive and uncompromising commitment to the health and safety of both staff and residents.

“We have decided to invest in this quite heavily so we have taken a ‘whole of organisation’ approach.  It’s not just the policy and procedures being developed and adopted but a comprehensive training and implementation process with employee assistance programs and chaplaincy support on the ground, on-site,” said Ms Callister.

“It’s an upfront commitment to a zero tolerance approach to unsafe workplaces and it has full leadership support from the organisation.  We have acknowledged that you invest in order to reap the rewards down the track. 

“Being proactive with staff up front will see reduced injuries, reduced claims and reduced premiums; and better quality of life for staff and their teams.  It affects them all,” she said.

Ms Callister described the initiative as a ‘new bold step’ for The Salvation Army that the organisation wanted to mark and celebrate through a formal ceremony.

“Getting all our managers to come to a special event and sign an uncompromising commitment to OH&S in front of the CEO of Workcover NSW, Lisa Hunt, demonstrates the importance and significance we place on this issue.”

Ms Callister said that the policy and training was very targeted to aged care, addressing areas such as managing challenging behaviour in dementia care, reducing risks of slips and sprains among staff and residents and helping to manage staff stress.

“We have looked at all the key domains to identify risks and we are training people in how to be wiser, how to proactively identify the risks.  In the past we have often been more reactive.”

WorkCover NSW CEO, Lisa Hunt commended the Salvation Army for rolling out their Aged Care Plus OHS system that will help establish OHS best practice across the industry.

“This new system will help reduce injuries and help foster a more cohesive work health and safety culture.  We all want our family to come home safely at the end of the working day and workplace safety should always remain a number one priority,” Ms Hunt said.

Photo Captions:
Top: (L to R): Lisa Hunt, CEO Workcover NSW and Sharon Callister, CEO Aged Care Plus

Bottom: (L to R): Col James Condon, Secretary of the Salvation Army Australian Eastern Territory; board member, Santo Santoro; Sharon Callister, CEO Aged Care Plus; Lt Col Miriam Gluyas, Secretary for Program.

The Harmonisation of Work, Health and Safety Laws

Currently all states and territories are responsible for making and enforcing their own work health and safety laws. Although these draw on a similar approach for regulating workplaces, there are some differences in the application and detail of the laws. The harmonisation process means moving towards one set of work health and safety laws which aim to reduce the incidence of death, injury and disease across Australia.

Safe Work Australia is responsible for developing model work health and safety laws. The model work health and safety laws will consist of the model WHS Act, supported by model WHS Regulations and model Codes of Practice that can be readily adopted around Australia. This requires each state and territory to pass their own laws that mirror the model work health and safety laws and adopt them by December 2011.

Tags: lisa-hunt, occupational-health-and-safety, oh&s-harmonisation, ohs, salvation-army-aged-care-plus, sharon-callister, workcover-nsw,

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