WorkCover Sticks and Business Continuity Carrots

One of the consequences of aiming for business continuity is the need to fit in with other programs and imperatives in an enterprise. In particular, employee safety is a requirement that must be met, although it opens the door simultaneously to opportunities for BC planning. Australian states such as New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have “WorkCover” organisations or similar. These controlling bodies have a number of aims: ensuring that occupational health and safety legislation is observed; providing worker compensation; and providing rehabilitation to workers who need it. So how does this fit in with continuity in business?

With prevention being better than cure, WorkCover gives employers a list of rules to follow. These include requirements for the training of staff in the use of machinery and equipment, and activities such as handling chemicals, as appropriate. They also extend to ensuring that noise levels remain below the legal limit, and that phenomena such as bullying are avoided, or at least detected and resolved. Following the rules has the natural consequence of enhancing the chances of business continuity; vice-versa, sound BC thinking will also facilitate observation of safety procedures in general.

Whereas business continuity in itself is not legally mandatory, employee safety is. This means that there are sanctions if the requirements are not met. Benefits are not explicitly stated in legislation like this, even if intuitively a safer workplace is a better, more reassuring and ultimately more productive one. Business continuity on the other hand is based on the idea of keeping an organisation operational, and in the case of a commercial enterprise profitable. By using the different motivations in BC and in WorkCover appropriately, an organisation should be able to get the best of both worlds.