How health and safety shapes today’s labour workforce

Health and safety is one of the most important considerations in the mining and construction sectors, because of its power to prevent serious injuries and even death.

Sadly, there were 194 fatal health and safety-related injuries in Australia during 2020 alone. The fact this is a decrease of 50% since 2007 highlights how crucial it is for all stakeholders to learn from past mistakes and implement changes to create a safer tomorrow.

Businesses and industry bodies develop most health and safety initiatives in response to incidents that have unfortunately already occurred. However, this process of thoroughly investigating incidents – and then making those findings common knowledge – remains the most effective means of communication and education.

The state of health and safety in Australia

Seb Kendrew, HR Manager for MACFORCE Australia, says that health and safety has become more ingrained in our culture than it was even 10 years ago.

“A higher percentage of workers acknowledge health and safety as a mandatory and required part of their everyday working life,” he explains. Although there’s more work to be done.

While severe injury and death rates are steadily decreasing, men still account for 96% of workplace fatalities – with more than six out of ten being over the age of 45.

Key to improving these statistics include initiatives around:

  • setting expectations through training before mobilising at worksites;
  • providing frequent reminders to build well-understood processes; and
  • encouraging a trusting culture by removing the stigma around speaking up.

What will continue to be critical moving forward is businesses relaying this information, along with on-site safety updates, back to labour hire and recruitment companies to disseminate.

This is particularly important in mining and construction roles, where most employees are machine operators and labourers (who make up more than half of all worker fatalities).

Health and safety challenges for employees

“The most important part of health and safety is having buy-in from on-site personnel,” Chris Williams, Client Manager for MACFORCE Australia explains. “It doesn’t work unless everyone takes responsibility for, not only their actions but also the actions of those around them.”

Seb adds that when MACFORCE is seeking candidates for roles in mining and construction, a positive attitude towards safety requirements – and their accompanying paperwork – is essential. “Complacency and ‘corner-cutting’ mindsets simply don’t fly in these industries.”

Having a depth of knowledge even at the interview stage can help a prospective employee succeed in a harsh and hazard-filled work environment. It makes the required health and safety inductions, which can present a challenge to prospective employees, much easier.

At MACFORCE, we organise, facilitate and administer all the courses, training and medicals needed to get a candidate to the site.

MACFORCE’s approach to health and safety

Health and safety is the number one statistic measured on a worksite. That’s why it’s our number one concern when getting candidates into the workplace.

As the go-to recruitment company in Australia for mining, civil and construction, MACFORCE embraces health and safety regulations and requirements by offering:

  • training for long-term unemployed or wrongly-trained individuals who want to pursue a new career; and
  • traineeships and education that provide a glimpse of what the work front will look like before getting to a site.

The MACFORCE team is particularly passionate about mental health. We aim to continue building up our support partners – to provide every candidate and employee with a holistic service that leaves them more prepared and secure than when they started with us.

Building a focus on mental health

While everyone suffers from poor mental health sometimes, developing practices to manage it is crucial. When working in dynamic and hazardous environments, not focusing on the task at hand puts yourself and others at risk.

“We encourage all our partners to speak openly with team members, friends and family, seek professional help and discuss mindfulness exercises to work through mental health issues,” says Anthony McShane, Director of MACFORCE Australia.

Hitting refresh with honest conversations

With men over 45 making up the largest share of worker fatalities, it’s crucial to hit the refresh button on the daily routine – to ensure that you don’t add to that statistic.

“Getting words out and being heard is a huge stress reliever,” Seb notes. “More men are getting together just to banter, connect with nature and be heard.” A strong community develops future leaders, and it all starts with honest conversations.

About MACFORCE

MACFORCE Australia is a recruitment company with heart, focused on changing the way people are employed in Australia, particularly across the mining, construction, and civil sector. MACFORCE supports candidates to find suitable work placements, while supporting its clients to find suitable employees.

Looking for a career in mining and construction and passionate about ensuring that all personnel make it home in one piece? Connect with us at recruitment@macforce.com.au.

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