The Safety “Side Hustle”


The Safety “Side Hustle” is inspired by a podcast I listened to recently. The podcast Managing your “side hustle” and making it all work (Hardwood Hustle, Episode 23, August 2016) is about basketball coaching and how in the coaching community, coaching is often a person’s “side hustle” while they hold down a full time job (their hustle).


The podcast explores how you can pour into your side hustle in a healthy way without it interfering with your full-time role.


Listening to the podcast got me thinking… while coaching may be a “side hustle” for many coaches, health and safety can be a “side hustle” for many business owners and those in a leadership position. They are often grappling with fitting health and safety into their role and struggle with making it a priority.


In my consulting practice, it’s predominately the organisations’ HR and/or WHS resource who arrange the engagement of my work health and safety services. It’s not uncommon for me to hear (following a submission of a proposal for services) “I just need to convince my leadership team now.”


I call this the Leaders’ Safety Side Hustle. My question is – why does the leadership team need to be convinced? Shouldn’t the leadership team be the advocates for improving health and safety in their business? Are they treating health and safety as their side hustle? If the answer is yes, I question their commitment to health and safety.


If you’re treating safety as your side hustle, then your commitment to safety is likely to be somewhere in the pathological to calculative range of Hudson’s evolutionary model of safety culture. This is a dangerous place to be due to the obligations you have as an employer for general safety, and specific issues such as bullying and violence.


Alternatively, if your health and safety is weaved into your core business and forms part of your everyday hustle, then you are cruising in the proactive to generative range – what a great place to be!

The evolutionary model of Safety Culture

Figure: The evolutionary model of Safety Culture (Hudson, 2001)


As a leader, your behaviour combined with your decisions strongly influences the health and safety culture of the business. You are accountable for the health and safety success of your business and for health and safety to be part of your hustle, you must be diligent.


Failure to be diligent can result in injured workers, lost time and productivity, and sometimes costly litigation. In a recent case, a labour hire firm (Eastlink Enterprise Pty Ltd) was fined $20,000 for failing to ensure a safe workplace, despite the fact no actual incident occurred. Although a recruitment consultant from the labour hire firm had been sent to the client workplace (a waste recycling company) in advance, he had no training in hazard identification nor been provided with a hazard identification checklist. This meant he did not identify the potential risk involved with workers being required to perform a daily cleaning activity on a roof without barriers or harnesses.


This is only one of many cases I could cite of workplaces and labour hire firms being fined for failure to carry out their due diligence.


A final thought – this diagram shows the Model of Diligence, where the aim is to operate your business from a position in the top right quadrant– the diligence ‘hotspot’.


Consider where you are on the model of diligence and what actions you need to take to get to the diligence hotspot.  One tip I can offer is to prepare a work health and safety management plan. A plan which focuses on your businesses’ work health and safety objectives and targets for the next three to five years is crucial in meeting your due diligence obligations.


When it comes to health and safety, the best defence is good offence. I have created a program specifically for owners, senior management teams and decision makers called Undressing Risk – where we ask “How exposed are you and your business when it comes to work health and safety?” Like many, I’m not a fan of the typical lecture style of a safety law briefing, so I’ve created a practical and engaging risk management program where you learn what your responsibilities are as a business and ensure you and your leadership team have the knowledge, know-how and tools to avoid work health and safety litigation and workplace injuries. Please contact me for further information or simply to talk about your obligations with health and safety.



Amy Towers, Founder and Director of Risk Collective

Amy Towers is obsessed with setting you free when it comes to your work health and safety obligations. A risk expert with more than 10 years’ experience working as a Health and Safety Specialist and Consultant, Amy enjoys solving complex business problems and is truly passionate about guiding, directing and protecting you and your business against health and safety risks.


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