National Safe Work Month 2019: a state-by-state roundup

Monday, 30 September, 2019

National Safe Work Month 2019: a state-by-state roundup

October is National Safe Work Month, with this year’s theme — ‘Be a Safety Champion’ — being announced by Safe Work Australia (SWA) back in July. “This year, we want to let everyone know that anyone can be a champion for work health and safety. Anyone can Be a Safety Champion,” SWA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Michelle Baxter, said at the time of the announcement. “Being a leader for work health and safety and actively taking a role in supporting a strong health and safety culture is everyone’s business.

“This October,” Baxter concluded, “I encourage you all to Be a Safety Champion.” Now that October is here, and the championing of safety is firmly on the national agenda, we have taken a state-by-state look at how work health and safety (WHS) authorities in each Australian state have responded to the call. In this guide, we chart the various safety initiatives, events and key messages that are being championed during October, including details on how you can take part in the activities being run by your state, all geared towards raising WHS awareness and making work safer.

Australian Capital Territory

A number of the activities WorkSafe ACT are running this month acknowledge that National Safe Work Month coincides with Mental Health Month; this includes such events as its ‘Guide to Mental Health for Managers’ workshop on 8 October and its partnership with the ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing Expo’ on 10 October. Other events running throughout the month include a ‘Vehicles as a Workplace’ information session on 3 October, a ‘Healthier Work Day’ forum on 18 October and a ‘Safe Work Method Statement’ seminar on 22 October.

“Throughout the month WorkSafe has planned a number of activities with a strong focus on psychological health,” ACT Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said. “Physical and mental health and wellbeing go hand in hand and should be dealt with together to provide the best positive impacts at your place of work. WorkSafe inspectors will be out on sites and in workplaces during the month and are partnering with a range of organisations to support safety and wellbeing.”

More information on WorkSafe ACT events being run during National Safe Work Month can be found here.

New South Wales

SafeWork NSW are running a number of events throughout October. These include workshops across the state on how employers can better manage hazardous manual tasks using the Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM) program. Winners of the SafeWork NSW Awards 2019 will also be announced this month.

More information on SafeWork NSW events being run during National Safe Work Month can be found here.

Northern Territory

NT WorkSafe activities running during National Safe Work Month are partner events of the state’s October Business Month. A number of free safety seminars are being run in the first half of the month in Alice Springs (7 October) and Darwin (9 and 10 October) on the topics of bullying and harassment, heat stress, workers compensation and outback driving safety — and a free ‘Vehicles as a Workplace’ webinar is being run on 9 October. While in the latter half of October, free, one-on-one small business safety consultations are being offered, in Alice Springs on 21 and 22 October and in Tennant Creek on 23 and 24 October.

“As we have seen so tragically this year, an instant is all it takes for someone to be seriously injured or killed in the workplace,” NT WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Melissa Garde said. Garde also said that both employers and workers have responsibility to take an active role in promoting a strong safety culture within the workplace. “Organising an event can be as simple as having a morning tea and encouraging everyone to discuss incidents or near misses that have occurred at their workplace. An incident or near miss can indicate a control measure is no longer working or there is a new hazard in the workplace.”

More information, including how to register for these events, is available here.


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHS Qld) is calling on businesses to show they care about safety by hosting their own event this National Safe Work Month. “Don’t stand on the sidelines this October, host your own Safe Work Month event at your workplace,” WHS Qld Head Craig Allen said. “You can organise simple events like toolbox talks, morning teas or workplace barbeques, or go all out and put on a conference with expert speakers. The idea is to raise awareness about safety at work and get everyone to embrace a positive safety culture at your workplace.”

In addition to its call for all Queenslanders to take responsibility for being safety champions, WHS Qld will run various events. This program will commence with a free community breakfast in King George Square in Brisbane on 2 October. Other events include a Safe Work and Return to Work Awards Ceremony on 9 October in Brisbane, Injury Prevention and Return to Work Masterclasses on 15 October in Brisbane and an Injury Prevention and Return to Work Conference on 16 October in Brisbane, as well as a number of regional breakfast forums occurring across the state.

“We should always be thinking about safety, but during Safe Work Month we really try to connect with people and push this important issue,” Allen said. “Our safety ambassadors Shane Webcke and Libby Trickett and our team of Safety Advocates are doing their bit to deliver important messages around our state because we all have the right to a safe workplace and to come home safely at the end of a shift. Sadly, each year around 17 Queenslanders die as a result of a workplace injury and over 5000 suffer a permanent injury. Many of these injuries and deaths are preventable. Queenslanders, let’s all step off the sidelines and stand up for safe work, especially during October.”

More information, including a full program of WHS Qld’s October events, can be found here.

South Australia

For its part in the ‘Be a Safety Champion’ theme, SafeWork SA are inviting South Australian businesses to showcase their safety credentials by registering a workplace activity to be held during October. Those who take part will be in the running to win a prize valued up to $500. In addition to registering for and hosting a workplace activity that promotes safety, entrants are required to promote the safety initiative via social media using @SafeWorkSA, #safeworkmonth and #safetychampion. Those who participate in the program will be judged on the following criteria: “creativity and originality of the workplace activity, relevance to work health and safety, the reach of their activity and use of social media tags as specified in the entry conditions”.

The winner of the Augusta Zadow Awards — recognising initiatives that keep women and young people safe in the workplace — will be announced early in the month (on 3 October). SafeWork SA have also nominated four ‘priority industries’ that experience high incidences of injury — manufacturing, construction, agriculture and transport — with SafeWork SA’s website and social media channels due to feature an industry video on key injuries and preventive measures each week.

“National Safe Work Month is an opportunity to put workplace health and safety at the forefront of people’s minds,” SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell said. “While this year we are focusing on how to avoid injuries in four specific industries, we always encourage all workers in every type of workplace to be aware, be vigilant and put safety first. An important safety rule all year round is for workers in all industries to always look out for work mates. Don’t be afraid to speak up about any safety concerns you have regarding your worksite and duties.”

More information on this SafeWork SA program, including how to register and full terms and conditions, can be found here.


WorkSafe Tasmania run its own ‘WorkSafe Month’ from 1–30 October as a supporting initiative of the National Safe Work Month. This year’s theme is ‘Safe Bodies, Safe Minds’ and takes as its focus the importance of physical and mental health, and wellbeing in the workplace. The theme builds on the ‘Safety is Everything: Mental Health Awareness Campaign’, which is a joint venture of the WorkCover Tasmania Board and WorkSafe Tasmania that aligns with the Tasmanian Government’s ‘Heathy Tasmania Five Year Plan’ and WorkSafe and WorkCover Tasmania’s own ‘Strategic Plan 2018–2023’.

“Work is where we spend a large part of our days,” Elise Archer, the State’s Minister for Building and Construction, said. “So every October we re-focus our commitment to health, safety and wellbeing through WorkSafe Month.”

More information, including a full program of Tasmania’s WorkSafe Month 2019 events, can be found here.


Mental health, young workers and the storage and handling of dangerous goods are some of the key agenda items for WorkSafe Victoria this month. Titled ‘WorkSafe Health and Safety Month’, 22 locations across the state will play host to workplace safety experts and industry leaders throughout October. In addition to the core themes already mentioned, these free seminars will also encompass topics as diverse as occupational violence and aggression in the healthcare sector, manual handling hazards, and occupational health and safety within small businesses. A number of the regional events will be kicked off by tradies’ breakfasts, which will tackle issues faced by the construction industry, such as trench safety, preventing falls from height, electricity safety and silicosis awareness.

A highlight of the state’s October events will be its showcase at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre on 30 October. Author and broadcaster Catherine McGregor will deliver the keynote, and be interviewed on stage by WorkSafe Health and Safety Month ambassador Anjali Rao, a former CNN presenter who has interviewed the likes of Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama. “Having worked in high-pressure, 24-hour news environments and reported on devastating events, I know first-hand the toll work can take on health, especially mental wellbeing,” Rao said about the importance of WHS awareness. The month’s events will culminate in the WorkSafe Awards, the winners of which will be announced on 31 October at a Gala Dinner at the Melbourne Town Hall. There is also a ‘Host Your Own Event’ competition running.

“WorkSafe Health and Safety Month brings together industry experts, inspiring motivational speakers, businesses and the community to focus on occupational health and safety, and I urge employers and workers around Victoria to consider going along to the event near them,” WorkSafe Victoria’s Chief Executive, Clare Amies, said about the state’s events.

More information, including a full program of WorkSafe Victoria’s October events, can be found here.

Western Australia

Throughout October WorkSafe WA is hosting a Safety and Health Workshops series. Nine sessions in this series will run during October. It kicks off in Perth on 7 October and concludes on 29 October, also in Perth. The series covers topics that range from work–life balance; armed holdups in retail; mediation in the workplace; work-related musculoskeletal disorders; and crystalline silica and silicosis. The 2019 Work Health and Safety Excellence Awards will also be held early in the month (2 October); these awards are new, and are an amalgamation of the Work Safety Awards Western Australia for general industry and the Safety and Health Resources Sector Awards. WorkSafe WA is also encouraging those in the state to plan and host their own Safe Work Month event.

“WorkSafe WA has set its workshops in accordance with previously popular topics and feedback from past participants concerning what they would like to hear about,” Deputy Director General, Safety Regulation, Ian Munns, said. “All WorkSafe WA’s Safe Work October activities will contribute to people becoming safety champions.”

More information, including a full program of WorkSafe WA’s October events and event hosting resources, can be found here.

Be a safety champion

When announcing this year’s National Safe Work Month theme, Safe Work Australia’s CEO, Michelle Baxter, remarked: “Everyone can promote and mobilise the values, attitudes and behaviours for work health and safety at any workplace in any industry.” And the initiatives being run at a state level throughout this month seem to support this view, serving as a call to action to not only take advantage of the chance to become further informed by experts on pressing WHS issues, but to take part as well: to be a safety champion.

More information about how you can take part in National Safe Work Month can be found here, on the Safe Work Australia website.

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