What staff told us about the safety culture at Macquarie


Macquarie is a research-intensive tertiary institution comprising more than 50,000 staff and students, so you can imagine the effort required to maintain a safe working environment. On any given day, we have people handling dangerous materials and complex equipment in lab environments, some being responsible for the wellbeing of lecture theatres full of students, and others travelling to far-flung corners of the world.

Developing effective WHS strategies in an organisation as complex as ours requires a great deal of consultation, collaboration, planning, support and communication.

Earlier this year, we asked staff and graduate research students to complete the iCare Safety Culture Survey to give us a detailed view of needs and attitudes across different parts of the University, and to identify areas for improvement. The survey examined seven dimensions of safety culture, including guidelines and procedures, management support, and job demands.

More than 1100 staff and higher degree research students completed the survey, with iCare’s analysis determining that Macquarie’s average safety culture rating is 7.2 out of 10, which corresponds to a rating of ‘Good’.

We were pleased to find Macquarie performing well on many measures. For example:

  • almost all staff understand the expectations around workplace behaviour
  • most staff work to the procedures and guidelines in the workplace
  • there is a clear understanding of the importance of reporting all incidents
  • staff feel supported by their managers.

Among the areas identified as needing more focus were:

  • the mental health and psychological safety of staff
  • communication around procedures and incident reporting, including post-reporting follow up
  • making sure our workplace values are supported by employee behaviour.

The feedback we collected through the Safety Culture Survey has helped us shape a new a three-year WHS Strategic Plan. The plan is built on the framework of Australian/New Zealand standard ISO 45001 Occupational health and safety management systemsRequirements with guidance for use, and is also informed by the WHS Act and Regulations.

Focusing on four principles – understand, simplify, engage and systematise – our new WHS Strategic Plan has three key goals:

  1. Prevention of injury and illness through a proactive and engaging risk management process with consultation as a core value.
  2. A Macquarie community that has the capability to recognise and respond to WHS risks through appropriate resources, training and support.
  3. A simple and intuitive safety management system with the tools and resources our people need.

You can find both the WHS Strategic Plan 2023-2026 and the full results of the Safety Culture Survey on the WHS SharePoint. I would encourage you to take some time to explore these materials, as well as the wealth of other resources on the SharePoint, to help you maintain and improve workplace health and safety in your area. We can only achieve our WHS goals when every member of our University community is doing their part to create a safe environment.

Above all, I would encourage you to keep the conversation about workplace health and safety going. Achieving a safe and healthy workplace is about much more than having appropriate procedures and reporting mechanisms in place. At its heart, it is about listening to our people and prioritising their wellbeing. Both the Workplace Health and Safety team and the dedicated WHS committees across our campus are listening and would love to hear from you.

Visit the Workplace Health and Safety SharePoint.





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