With October being National Work Safe Month, Wannon Water’s commitment to improving the health and safety of its workforce through the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program is one to be acknowledged.
Wannon Water, in south-west Victoria, is an organisation that provides water and sewerage services, contributing to the sustainable growth, and health and wellbeing of the local community and environment.
Andrew Jeffers, managing director at Wannon Water, said the organisation decided to join the free program in 2019 to build upon its commitment to provide a healthy and safe workplace for its 215 employees.
“We’re dedicated to providing a Zero Harm workplace across all our worksites, which is a workplace that is safe for everyone, encompassing physical safety and mental health and wellbeing. We believe everyone has the right to be safe and to return home as healthy as when they started the day,” Mr Jeffers said.
The Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program is centred around five health areas including mental health and wellbeing, smoking, physical activity, healthy eating, and alcohol and other drugs. Each health area has a set of targets to achieve, resulting in healthy changes to the physical working environment, policies and practices, and culture – workplaces can also receive Victorian Government recognition.
Wannon Water has achieved Victorian Government recognition for three of the five health areas – mental health and wellbeing, smoking, and alcohol and other drugs. Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program lead Laura Paulsen is impressed by Wannon Water’s motivation to go beyond the physical safety of its workforce to promote health and healthy behaviours in the workplace, and says that combining occupational health and safety and health promotion activities enhances the overall health and wellbeing of a workforce.
“It’s been great to see Wannon Water incorporate new initiatives to improve their employees’ wellbeing, and to recognise the important link between health and safety in delivering positive work outcomes and preventing work-related injuries and illnesses,” Ms Paulsen said.
Wannon Water has incorporated four new principles into their health and wellbeing program to guide their efforts.
The principles are:
- mental health is just as important as physical health and there is a strong relationship between the two
- work and employees’ personal lives are not mutually exclusive, therefore it’s not reasonable to expect that employees are able to leave all their personal circumstances at home
- creating a healthy, safe workplace is the joint responsibility of the employees and the organisation
- having a healthy and diverse workforce is a deliberate investment which generates positive outcomes.
To boost mental health and wellbeing, Wannon Water has established an Employee Assistance Program to help employees seek professional advice and to have a safe space to openly talk about their mental health and wellbeing. The employees have taken part in VECCI Mental Health Essentials Training and a mental health and wellbeing policy has been developed which includes flexible working arrangements and counselling services, and there is an updated Occupational Health and Safety Policy.
To support all employees with safe and healthy practices around smoking and alcohol and other drugs, Wannon Water has refreshed its smoke-free workplace procedure, provided health information, resources and links to support services in a bid to improve employees’ health knowledge. Furthermore, Wannon Water has promoted key health awareness days such as World No Tobacco Day.
Wannon Water will continue to improve and build upon its workplace health and safety initiatives and is progressing through the remaining two health areas in the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program.
To get your workplace involved in National Work Safe Month, visit: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/national-safe-work-month