zero harm construction

What is a Zero Harm Workplace and Why is it Needed?

By Jesse KeremaDigital Marketing Manager
Published on September 19, 2019


The typical workplace in the modern business world is one that is efficiency-focused, extraordinarily fast-paced and looking to get as much done in as short of a period as possible. While this is fantastic for profitability, far too many businesses find themselves cutting corners concerning safety.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the Zero Harm Workplace concept, why it’s so essential and also how it’s possible to implement.

The concept of the Zero Harm Workplace is primarily a workplace that is intrinsically safe for every employee, contractor and visitor stepping foot inside it — without them needing to watch and carefully calculate their movements as safety education and worksite design has guaranteed their safety.

What is Zero Harm

The ‘Zero Harm’ concept is generally looked at by workplaces as a specific and highly tailored approach to workplace health and safety that ensures no individual (employee or not) is exposed to potential harm. What this means is that the workplace itself has been designed in a way that ensures there’s little to no risk involved in any and all operations.

To add, the Zero Harm ethos greatly expands upon all generic and government-required safety regulations, as these often still result in injury in the workplace. We can think of these low-risk workplaces as those that massively exceed all WHS regulations.

In some workplaces, the concept of Zero Harm is seen as unsafe in its development as there isn’t a standard for businesses to follow:

The main issue seen with the Zero Harm Workplace is that there isn’t able to be any cohesion between businesses, meaning an employee or visitor may become accustomed to being able to roam freely or undertake certain tasks without risk in one workplace, though could become seriously injured in another while undertaking the same tasks.

With this aspect aside, national governments are looking to agree with these low-risk workplace policies, awarding workplaces with safety recognition when Zero Harm is considered.

Creating a Successful Work Site

For both employers and employees, Zero Harm worksites are exceptionally productive and successful in more than one way. Not only are staff members able to feel more secure in their roles, but they’re also more productive in that they’re not concerned about being injured at work.

Zero Harm for Employers

From a business and employer standpoint, workplaces are far less likely to experience injuries that result in slowdowns. Pair this with reduced liability, and you’re looking at a win-win in almost every sense. You’re able to ensure more work is getting done as efficiently as possible, while simultaneously less likely to experience a lawsuit or penalty from WHS regulators.

Zero Harm for Employees

From an employee, contractor and visitor standpoint, a low-risk workplace ensures all work tasks and movements within the workplace can be undertaken at full efficiency. There’s such a limited chance of injury in that the workplace is reverse engineered to be safe, that functions can continue at peak performance. As a result, staff can feel happier, safer and freer to undergo their daily tasks.

What Makes a Zero Harm Workplace

Although creating a Zero Harm Workplace seems rather complicated and daunting for a majority of employers, the process is somewhat streamlined if undertaken correctly and with a plan. We’ve outlined a few procedures and aspects that make a Zero Harm Workplace.

Comprehensive Management of Staff

In a low-risk, all staff must be observed for compliance and the correct adherence to safety standards. An easy-to-communicate safety protocol must be developed and also shared amongst team members. In doing this, all personnel will know how to mitigate risk, deal with injury and keep a workplace moving without potential risks arising.

Reverse Engineered Risk Management

A traditional risk management protocol generally looks at risks that have already occurred to adapt and prevent them in the future. In a Zero Harm space, these risks need to be determined before their occurrence,
and the workplace should be developed in accordance with these. These risk mitigation processes should then be deeply integrated into every workplace task, keeping staff well aware of potential risks and what’s required to prevent them.

Real-time and Insightful Reporting

A final aspect of the reporting of issues and incidents. All team members will be required to report or notify senior staff of potential problems with the Zero Harm protocols, as these reports will assist in adapting the protocol. All real-time reports can help with time-based risk management, task-based risks and much more.

What a Zero Harm Workplace Looks Like

Across various industries and workplaces, Zero Harm takes different forms. In a construction setting, a Zero Harm protocol will look fundamentally different from that of an office space or a retail store, for example. Also, temporary or contractor team members may have entirely different requirements than those full-time staff members.

Let’s take a look at two somewhat different workplaces, with the same Zero Harm protocols in place.

For Contractor and Temporary Staff

As these team members aren’t always on-site or undertaking the same inductions as typical employees, the utilisation of dynamic management software becomes essential. With programs such as Sine, contractors can be routinely provided with the same inductions and safety information as those working full time, with no misinformation. These info-sharing procedures can also be entirely automated, so there’s no chance of staff missing out on their safety essentials.

Automated, real-time location tracking with Sine also means risk management can still occur with contracted team members.

For Office Sites

In a traditional office workplace, all fundamental Zero Harm protocols can be shared face-to-face, and employees can easily share real-time data with senior staff. These two aspects will ensure that everyone in the office knows how to reduce their risk of injury, how to share protocol-adapting information and finally, how to minimise other’s risk of injury.

As you can see, there are a variety of different Zero Harm workplace designs that will need to be integrated into each different worksite. Though, with the appropriate technologies, plans and protocols in place, all employees can benefit from the Zero Harm concept without fail.