Why keeping safety documentation up-to-date and accessible is a must

There are a number of benefits to keeping strong workplace safety documentation in place as a business. Not only does safety documentation ensure that you can demonstrate compliance with health and safety legislation, it can also save you and your team a great deal of time and frustration.

 

 

A key challenge facing business owners and managers

 

There is one main problem facing many organisations when it comes to safety documentation. It is challenging for businesses to keep track of documents as the business grows and evolves, or as staff change over time.

 

Documentation might be stored in different locations at different points in time. A variety of hard and soft copies of documentation might be in circulation at any one given time, current or older version. Regular reviews and updates of documents might fall off the radar. And communication of updated versions might fail to flow downstream to the staff that need the information the most.

 

All of this means that when it comes time to access or review such documentation, the business spends more time trying to figure out the state of things, and less actually working on improvements to documentation and systems for the sake of everyone’s health and safety! And no one wants that.

 

Should a serious incident or injury occur, you will be required to provide evidence to a safety regulator that you have effective health and safety workplace systems in place. At this point, your ability to supply documentation becomes very important. It can show that you comply with relevant safety legislation, and that you are actively doing what you can to make things safer for your people.

 

Needless to say, copies of documents, stored in a folder, in head office, on that dusty shelf, that no one ever really uses anymore, isn’t doing anyone any favours. This is especially true if you are working across multiple sites. If you have documentation, you need to make sure its current, accessible, and digestible.

 

 

Make documentation easy to access for your workers

 

So, we know that simply having documentation is not enough. People must first know it exists and be able to use it!

 

Regardless of the type and extent of health and safety documentation that you have available in your workplace, keeping it readily accessible to your workers is of paramount importance. If your workforce or any other interested party can’t access the documentation, no one wins.

 

On the other hand, if people can, and do, access relevant and current safety documentation this supports your legislative compliance. Additionally, easy access to documentation for workers, supervisors and managers will improve workplace efficiency.

 

When you roll out standardised and consistent training on the relevant workplace safety procedures, your ability to streamline and tighten your operations and output improves. So not only should you think about making the documentation accessible, but also think about how you communicate it. Training sessions, team meetings, or a quick stand up meeting at the beginning of every month.

 

Learn what’s included in our 100% free software plan

 

 

A best practice approach to WHS documentation management

 

Consistent with Australian and International Standards, best practice for managing safety documentation is with version control and periodic reviews. Documentation should be established with a revision period in mind (e.g. two or three times yearly) and should be marked with dates or version numbers for tracking purposes and ease of administration.

 

It’s important to remember that whilst periodic reviews should occur on a regular basis appropriate to your needs, they should also occur when major changes occur in your organisation. Such changes might be new business operations, unexpected periods of growth, shifts in staffing or job functions, or changes in management.

 

During such periods of change, safety considerations are commonly forgotten. But when big changes occur in your business, it is more than likely there will be flow on effects to your safety management system.

 

It’s at times like these that workplace health and safety should always be on the agenda. Current systems, processes, and documentation must be reviewed to ensure that safety stays on track and in accordance with your goals and legislative duties.

 

Finally, it is a good practice to ensure that safety documentation is stored in a safe and secure manner to prevent modification without organisational-level visibility. This speaks to the legislative duty that any business owner or person in charge must be aware of safety practices in their organisation.

 

 

Secure online storage for easy access and history of evidence

 

A secure, easy-to-use solution for better safety documentation management is utilising the Documents Module in Safety Champion Software. This module enables any organisation to easily upload, review and update their safety documentation. Plus it makes documentation super easy to access.

 

You can set up a revision period and keep version control, under control by saving new versions of documentation and archiving old versions. Email reminders will let you know when your documents are up for review. This is incredibly useful when it comes to health and safety legislative compliance.

 

Furthermore, this module allows different documentation types to be shared with specific groups in your organisation, or with everyone. You can ensure that safety documents are shared with users based on their level of seniority in the business, their job role or their function.

 

Plus, being a cloud-based software, your team can access these important documents from any location or work site, via any electronic device including a laptop, tablet or smart phone device. This means that when your team needs the information, they can get it. No need to slow down productivity, and no need to wait for HR to get back to their desk.

 

Read more about our Documents Module

 

But possibly one of the best features of Safety Champion – and one you won’t find in alternative software products on the market – is the fact that Safety Champion assigns safety tasks to a team or a group in your organisation and not to a person. This means, that if the person responsible for a safety tasks moves to another role or leaves the business, your safety tasks keep ticking along.

 

The system architecture keeps everything in place for you so that you never need to worry about safety tasks – like reviewing documentation – being forgotten again.

 

Get the OHS information you need any time, anywhere.

 

 

Total peace of mind with Safety Champion

 

Safety Champion’s Documents Module allows any business owner, people manager, team leader or human resources representative the peace of mind they are after.

 

Imagine being able to update that document, load it into the system, and feel confident knowing that your team, wherever they are – a suburb away on site, interstate, or even in another country – have most up-to-date and accurate safety information possible.

 

Safety Champion really is the easy and efficient way to manage safety documentation.

 

If you are keen to learn more, reach out to us and one of our customer experience team members will be in touch soon.

 

 

How to be a safety champion

The word champion can be one of the most powerful words in the modern era.

 

(No wonder we named our awesome and very powerful safety software after it!)

 

We hear it repeated often and, in many contexts – like sport, business and politics – and across many forms of media and advertising.

 

So popular is this word that the noun has become the verb – we ‘champion’ specific causes!

 

 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a champion as “a person who enthusiastically supports, defends, or fights for a person, belief, right, or principle”.

 

 

But what does it take to be a champion? More specifically, what are the qualities of being a champion that us ‘Ordinary Joes’ can apply on an everyday basis to make workplaces safer?

 

There are many quotes which have been uttered by sports persons, businessmen and politicians about what it takes to be a champion.

 

Perhaps these can best be summarised by the ‘championship qualities’ defined by sports journalist, best-selling author and business coach Don Yaeger.

 

 

A champion in the eyes of business coach Don Yaegar

Don developed his list based on interactions with sports and business champions over 15 years as a sports journalist and business coach.

 

  • Having contagious enthusiasm

  • Always being prepared, even in ‘off-season’

  • Visualising victory

  • Using adversity as fuel

  • Acting and reacting with careful consideration

  • Knowing how to adjust their game plan, quickly, when the unexpected occurs

  • Being willing to take on whatever role is necessary for the team to win

 

Don calls a person a champion when they know what needs to be done, and when they do what needs to be done, no matter how seemingly beneath him or her it might be.

 

In essence, a safety champion ‘walks the walk’, knows the power of networking, is always prepared, and never gives up.

 

 

A champion for workplace safety

 

We often talk about safety champions when it comes to health and safety. It’s a common phrase. So common, it’s the theme of National Safe Work Month 2019.

 

And we all have a sense of who those people are. They are the ones that really go all out with OHS to make sure we are all safe at work.

 

Need a safety software? Try our 100% free plan

 

They are the ones chasing up the tasks, making sure we are all reporting what we need to, putting up the signs around the office, and generally showing their support for workplace safety so we all go home safe at the end of the day.

 

But how can you be a workplace health and safety champion? Well, from a consultant point of view, we’d suggest you adopt a few or all of these principles and bring them into your business as usual.

 

  • Apply quality principals ie having a prevention focus with a continuous improvement approach.
  • Be an exemplar in working safely – always being on ‘display’, even when no one is watching.
  • Show respect for others in calling out and responding appropriately to unsafe behaviours. Knowing why the behaviour is unsafe will make this easier.
  • Ensure you provide or have access to safety knowledge with regards to risk management which is evidence based. The safety conversation will be easier if evidence for the proposed course of action is presented.
  • Be a good communicator! Communication (a key part of consultation) forms a cornerstone of modern safety legislation. To communicate effectively takes considerable skill. Coming up with new and interesting ways to present the ‘same old’ message is challenging.
  • Always being enthusiastic in all matters relating to safety. Enthusiasm for safety is a major contributor to effective communication.
  • Be aware as to where safety fits in with the big picture without compromising vision and belief.
  • Believe in the importance of eliminating workplace harm while acknowledging that zero harm may be unrealistic (the ‘higher power’?) and being able to visualise what a safe workplace looks like.
  • Acknowledge that emergent conditions can quickly escalate risk and prepared for and able to respond to all eventualities.

 

4 simple points to follow

Ok, ok. Maybe that was all a little too much. But don’t despair! Generally, being a safety champion in the workplace can be as simple as being actively engaged in your safety program.

But we have four neat points that anyone – no matter their position in the workplace – can take on board for a great safety culture.

 

  1. Ensure that you and your team have all the tools and skills needed to work safely.

  2. Report unsafe work situations or workplace incidents even if you are not directly involved.

  3. Walk the ‘safety’ walk. Follow the rules just as you’d expect everyone else to.

  4. Participate actively in relevant discussion and action to improve safety at work.

Try sharing these ideas with your team. These can be gold when it comes to building a stronger safety culture at your work.

 

If everyone in the workplace strives to follow these four simple principles above, it will be far more likely that safety will improve. Plus, if bring in some professional safety consultants to guide your safety program and a WHS software tool like Safety Champion, you will be well on your way to keeping everyone at work safer and healthier.

 

Of course, an entire workplace of safety champions is even better than one! Go for gold on that and get everyone on board!

Launching the first 100% free safety software plan of its kind

Today, we are thrilled, excited, and maybe a little nervous too, to launch our big news. Safety Champion now has the first 100% free, comprehensive safety software product on the market.

 

Our GO FREE plan allows anyone, in any organisation, to access our platform to manage their health and safety management system free. We don’t ask for credit cards and this is not a free trial period that will end in a month. It’s free, forever.

 

 

A free safety solution to break through the barriers

In our line of work, we see many organisations – small and large – struggle getting the resources or finances together to manage safety well.

 

It’s not that the people in these organisations don’t want to keep the people in their team safe from harm. Quite the opposite.

 

It’s just that health and safety has a perception of being complex and just ‘too hard’. This often acts as a barrier that prevents organisations from better engagement with stronger safety practices. And we see this as a real shame.

 

So, with our free workplace safety software, any organisation wishing to boost their safety management practices can do so. Without concern over having the resources or the money to put behind it.

 

 

 

Go right ahead and sign up today

 

 

Choose to go free, to free yourself up some time

In fact, the system saves you time. No more messy spreadsheets. No more chasing people up to complete that incident form. No more paper-based filing. And no need for that catastrophe meeting you have when you realise safety has dropped off the radar completely!

 

Safety Champion’s GO FREE plan frees you up to get to other important things in your business.

 

Through the system, you will be able to;

 

  • seamlessly manage the essential components of your safety program.

  • report incidents, report hazards, and complete inspections on your phone or computer.

  • plan out recurring tasks, set notification emails, and assign tasks to your team.

 

safety champion free health and safety software for all organisations to access for free

The clean and clear interface of Safety Champion’s GO FREE version.

 

The first of its kind

Following on from other ‘greats’ in the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry – like Dropbox and MailChimp – we thought it was time to bring a free software product to the health and safety industry.

 

This free plan allows you access to more than one module – in fact many! – with more than one user. So you can manage all of the essential components of your full health and safety program in one system.

 

We think a free ohs software solution is just what the industry needs to get safety on the agenda in more workplaces, and improve uptake of strong safety practices.

 

Learn what’s included in our free plan

 

 

Be a Safety Champion this National Safe Work Month

We are incredibly proud to have launched this product – especially in Safe Work Month – when “Be a Safety Champion” is the tagline. Imagine our surprise when we learned about that tagline whilst preparing to launch this offer!

 

Now, everyone has the means to be a safety champion in their workplace.

 

What’s included then?

  • 4 awesome modules – incident, action, inspections, planning!

  • 2 unique user accounts

  • Access to our IOS and Android Apps

  • Templates to copy

  • Great guidance from our online tutorials

 

 

It’s pretty clear to see the benefits. So, sign up today!

How to safely manage hazardous chemicals in your workplace

Bad luck or bad planning?

It’s often easier to figure out what happened and why after a chemical incident has occurred. A couple of seemingly unrelated events combine to produce an explosion, a chemical spill and/or worse case an injury.

 

You think –

“If only the regular operator had not been sick that day”
“If only the waste oil drum had been emptied on Monday when it was scheduled”
“If only the new operator had used the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)”

 

Then, this incident would not have happened.

 

But, can you fight bad luck with good planning? The simple answer is yes!

 

 

So, what does this look like?

I hear you say –

“I have a chemical register, current Safety Data Sheets (SDS), suitable PPE and have assigned a person to manage the chemicals at our workplace”.
“I have also provided training to employees”
“So what more can I do?” 

 

Yes, you have the right information, but have you applied it in an effective way?

 

 

Is your chemical management system active or redundant?

Assigning the administration of the chemical management system to an employee and knowing what chemical products you have is actually not quite enough. 

 

You also need visibility of the ingredients of those products. Along with the specific hazards associated with the use, handling, storage and transportation so that you can identify and assess the risks and how these can be effectively managed.

 

 

Too often, information on chemical hazards is known only to a few employees and SDS folders and registers are left sitting on a shelf, forgotten and gathering dust. Managing hazardous chemicals involves everyone in your business – No observers allowed!

Elaine McGuigan – OHS Consultant

 

 

So, you have a safety program in place but you must remember that this is not the same as making sure your employees understand and can adequately handle the risks associated with hazardous chemicals in your workplace.

 

Is it enough to make sure a few employees understand the risks of hazardous chemicals?

No, the risks must be understood and communicated to all employees in a way that they can understand. Train your employees thoroughly and tailor the training to their level of education, it may take extra time to present in this manner, but they will remember it.

 

What’s some quick advice for consideration?

Information and awareness of the dangers of hazardous chemicals is the key to good planning. 

For example –

  • Have you undertaken a hazard analysis and taken the time to write down the risks associated with the use, handling, storage and transportation of your chemicals?
  • Have you taken into account your entire operation, the equipment you use, the workers who interact with these and how they all interact with each other? 
  • Have you considered the worst incident that can happen and how likely is it to happen?

 

Go beyond listing the dangers of each individual chemical and look at the hazards and risks from a whole of business perspective. Consider your neighbours, the community, the environment, your emergency plan and how you manage the introduction of new chemicals into your workplace.

 

A good chemical management system makes it impossible to overlook the way these things are interrelated because it requires input from your entire operation.

 

 

Learn from your mistakes following an incident where no real harm has been done. Rather than ignoring it and getting on with the job, investigate the direct and indirect causes (i.e. the contributing factors) and implement corrective actions to prevent the same thing from happening again.

 

How does safety software allow you to manage chemicals better?

Resources to effectively manage safety programs – including hazardous chemical management – are often stretched to the maximum. This is where safety software such as Safety Champion can help. 

 

Safety Champion has a dedicated Chemical Management Module which can make a big difference. The Chemical Module can;

  • be used to track multiple hazardous chemicals, across multiple workplaces
  • provide employees with immediate access to up-to-date SDSs
  • be access from any desktop, tablet or smartphone – even through our safety app!

 

Yes, there is still work to do but in using a safety software to help manage your chemical management program it is active, and no longer redundant. It now belongs to the workplace and not an individual. Phew. It’s no longer gathering dust on some forgotten shelf. 

Is workaholism a real thing?

Have you ever called someone else or perhaps yourself a workaholic? Well despite it often talked about in a jovial manner, workaholism is actually a real thing. Sometimes considered by psychology and sociology academics as a behaviour-based addiction or compulsion, it is something that has been found to afflict pretty high portions of some populations, especially in western culture.
You might be surprised to hear that there’s even such a thing as Workaholics Anonymous for those who need help, akin to Alcoholics Anonymous or AA.
Workaholism occurs when someone is driven or motivated to work at an uncontrollable or overpowering level. But, it’s also a little more than this. Workaholics spend so much time, effort and energy on work that it starts to impact their relationships, family life, extra-curricular activities and even their health.
Some of the negative physical and psychological outcomes of workaholism are depression, burnout, poor health, life dissatisfaction, and relationship problems.

 

Given these pretty high stakes, it’s important for leaders and managers to know a little about what kind of workplace fosters workaholism. After all, it’s both a legal and moral responsibility for leaders to ensure that workers are safe and healthy in the workplace.

 

It’s no secret that our modern workplace culture is now set by technological advancements, continuous connectivity to the office, and increased pressure on organisations to remain competitive and efficient. But it’s these kinds of things that can urge us to feel like we must work harder and faster.
A 2014 report from The Australia Institute revealed that work-life balance has been declining in recent years, with the many feeling pressure to work longer hours to keep up. And, unsurprisingly, work-life imbalance has been found to be correlated with workaholism.
The great news is that we can change the nature of our workplace environments to avoid the likelihood of workaholism taking hold. Studies have found that a competitive workplace, a culture of overwork, performance comparisons between colleagues, and high job performance demands are all factors that may contribute to workaholism.
So, if you have any of these things bubbling away at your workplace and you think it might be negatively contributing to the health of your people, perhaps it may be time to rethink things.
And certainly supporting some healthy workplace initiatives coming up like ‘RUOK Day’ in September, ‘Ride to Work Day in October, or ‘Go Home on Time Day’ in November, will help cultivate the kind of culture that supports a fit work-life balance for your people.
Let’s make better, healthier and safer workplaces so that we can enjoy our time outside of work as well. Go team!

Read more about mental health and wellbeing at work:

5 things we do to keep our team happiness level on a high!

What on earth is psychological safety?

The Juggler Part 4: 8 things you can do today to get action on safety

As you know through our Juggler series so far, the Juggler really is the ‘safety champion’ of many small or medium sized enterprises. But just like any champion out there, sometimes the Juggler might get stuck, lose motivation or veer off track.

So, Jugglers, here’s a little blog to help you get you on the right path, or stay on track if you are already there. Our 8 sure-fire ways to get action on safety in your workplace – starting today!

Not sure what we mean by the Juggler? Check out this blog.

 

1. Understand your organisation.

What sort of people do you work with? Have they been active in safety before? And if not, how do you think they could be motivated to engage in safety. Think about what makes them and the organisation as a whole tick.

2. Access training and guidance resources.

There are many resources you can access to skill up in safety. As a start, try downloading our free Health and Safety 101 course. It will step you through a good way to approach safety – even if you don’t have any current processes in place at all. We even let you in on some of the best free resources out there in episode 3. For more formal training information – see our blog Part 3 – The Juggler

3. Consult your colleagues.

Work with your colleagues and managers to discover what the big risks areas have been in the past. Investigate all injuries that have happened in the past. Then you can start to understand why they happened, and act on preventing them from happening again.

4. Have a plan.

Engage your boss in this step and ensure they are supporting your plan with safety. When your leader is on board – and actively encouraging the same from the whole team – safety becomes that much easier. As a part of this, make a list and agree on all the things that your workplace does, to prevent people from getting hurt – so completion can be monitored, and activities identified as important are not forgotten. This may include maintenance, training, meetings, inspections, etc.

5. Keep everyone informed.

Ensure that all your colleagues understand they are responsible for workplace safety, not just you. Encourage them to manage safety in their area and set up formal and informal opportunities for workers to resolve issues. And importantly, keep everyone up to date on how ‘we’ – as a team improving safety together – are travelling.

6. Monitor your plan.

Check in on your safety plan on a regular basis to ensure that things are getting done. An online Safety Management System with an easy overview dashboard display will make things a heap easier. Try ours 😉

7. Report back to management.

Create simple reports that you can share with your leadership team so that they understand what is going on with safety. This is a great way to see where you can improve, and to put your case forward for getting access to resources that will help you fill any gaps and keep things even safer. Report in the incidents that have occurred, suggestions that have been provided by the “team” or reporting back on “the things that your workplace does, to prevent people from getting hurt” – see point 4 above. Importantly, report back on your plan.

8. Check in with a professional.

It’s certainly a good idea to check in with a safety professional every so often to ensure that you are on track, in compliance with the legislative requirements, and doing the best you can to keep people at your workplace safe.

 

That’s it in a nutshell. These eight things really will make managing safety, amongst the rest of your workload, a lot easier. Hope it helps!

 

 

_______

Check out the other blogs in “The Juggler” blog series:

Part 1 – Who is the Juggler

Part 2 – Show your support to the Juggler

Part 3 – Training the Juggler

 

We’re offline!

But it’s not what you think! This isn’t a system upgrade. Our software is still up and running 24/7, as usual. But we’re pleased to say, we are the kind of offline that some businesses out there really need when it comes to safety.

 

These days, it’s all about being online; bringing your business processes online, and staying online 24/7. It’s certainly true that more and more businesses come to us wanting to shift their safety processes online, so they can experience all the benefits that come with it. (And there are many, of course; access to your full safety system anywhere any time, capacity to share information, worldwide, instantaneously, etc., etc.)

 

But there are times when offline functionality is pretty important too. Times when your workforce may not have access to mobile data, or wifi. You know, those times when your phone doesn’t have a signal? This may be associated with work in remote locations, or just times where there is an unstable internet connection. Additionally, it may be times where the signal is just dead, and we are all sure to be familiar with some of those spots! In short, not having a signal, is more frequent than we realise (or would like to accept).

 

So, that’s why we ensured that the Safety Champion Mobile App works offline, not just online.

 

So, that’s why we ensured that the Safety Champion Mobile App works offline, not just online. We wanted to ensure that all Safety Champion users can report incidents or hazards, conduct inspections, find or “do” JSA’s or SWMS, and access procedures, manuals or Safety Data Sheet’s at the time they need, rather than being a servant to the signal. It works like this:

 

  • Offline functionality allows the user of the Safety Champion App to access and use all functions without a signal, a network or wifi connectivity.
  • The user can input data or information into the app – such as reporting a hazard (including taking a photo) – just as an online user can.
  • When the user comes back online, all the information and attachments are automatically uploaded into Safety Champion.

 

Pretty neat, hey? We think so. ;0)

 

So, whilst being online brings great things for your business (and ours), offline access is also important. So your workforce can have ready access to your safety program at all times.

 

We advocate hard for bringing your safety process online and doing this with Safety Champion. Why? Because we want everyone to be safer at work, and we know that improved systems deliver this. But we also understand that sometimes, it’s not all about online, online, online. We know that there will be times that you worker will not have a signal, or may not have easy access to mobile-data or wifi. Rather than saying “too bad”, we built Safety Champion to support these occasions.

 

Need offline functionality? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. The Safety Champion Mobile App is available from the Google Play Store, or through your Safety Champion consultant.

safety champion mobile app safety inspections incident reporting hazard reporting app Google Play for Android

Safety Champion a proud partner of Australian Government’s Digital Champions initiative

We’re pleased to announce our partnership with the Australian Government’s Department of Jobs and Small Business as a corporate partner for their new initiative.

 

Launched earlier this year, the Small Business Digital Champions initiative will assist 100 small businesses around the country to revolutionise their businesses using the power of technology.

 

“When small businesses are digitally engaged, they are 50 per cent more likely to be growing revenue, eight times more likely to be creating jobs, seven times more likely to be exporting, and 14 times more likely to be innovating new products or services 1.”

 

In collaboration with Deloitte, through guidance from a list of high-profile mentors (see mentors here), and alongside the support of tech corporate partners, like Safety Champion, the chosen Small Business Digital Champions will embark on a year-long digital transformation.

 

With tech solutions offered by in-kind supporters the businesses will be set to boost their productivity, reach, and effectiveness by adopting digital solutions, at various levels of their businesses.

 

The team at Safety Champion very much look forward to assisting these small businesses to embed our simple, smart technology within their business processes to make the digital management of safety the norm.

 

For more about the Australian Government’s Small Business Digital Champions Initiative go to, https://www.jobs.gov.au/corporate-partners

4 reasons why bringing safety online is smarter sooner rather than later.

So, you’re thinking about bringing your safety program online. Fantastic! Of course, we’re going to say that, being a cloud-based safety software business. But our safety consultant brains also say the same, regardless of which safety software you choose to bring on board.

 

Why? Because whether it’s Safety Champion Software or another, online safety software systems can keep your safety program humming. And as health and safety consultants, we see this. One of the most common issues we hear from the businesses that we work with, is requests for ways, that they can keep their safety program on track.

 

 

After identifying what good safety practices look like for a business, the challenge is often how does the business establish a way to ensure that the relevant people perform the assigned activities, when scheduled?

– Craig Salter

Action OHS Consulting Director & Safety Champion Founder

 

 

Seriously, your safety program can see real and lasting benefits from streamlining your safety procedures with a cloud-based safety system to keep everything scheduled, ticking along, and improving at the same time.

 

 

 

Here’s a 4 reasons why it’s good for your business to bring safety online sooner rather than later:

The sooner you start, the sooner you can capture your data.

We hear it all the time these days. Data-driven approaches, actionable insights, meaningful data analytics… these are all terms that float around our professional circles daily, regardless of your line of work. But seriously, data – more specifically, the data you collect in your own organisation, that aligns with your own challenges, your own needs – can really help you improve your safety program. Imagine if you could see trends in the types of incidents that were reported over the last 6 months at a simple click of a button. Or if you could see which department was lagging in terms of tasks completed over the last quarter, or you could see which task were generally harder to complete, so you could contextualise some training to assist.

These kinds of insights can be pivotal to ensure you are spending time, money and resources in the right areas – the areas that will really help increase the safety of your people.

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll save money.

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Think about the number of hours you or your people spend trying to keep safety on track; reminding people to perform that safety task; following up on the paperwork for that reported incident or corrective action; chasing up the last time your workers completed that training, looking through the filing cabinet for the record of that certification; or, preparing reports for departments, regions or the organisation, etc., etc. Well, all that time means money. And all that time could be used for more important things like “doing safety” rather than “doing admin”.

Online safety software – when it’s done right – with save you a crazy amount of time as automated reminder emails are sent to the relevant stakeholders to remind them of upcoming task, whilst at the same time escalating notifications to management if tasks are not completed; all records are a click away and can be accessed in no time, ready for easy download; pre-programmed workflows allow real-time visibility of the status of your safety program to management, ensuring that your safety program is managed both now and in the future; or, reporting is always available, in real-time and most importantly accurate– nothing forgotten. Given our software generally offers a payback period of between 6 and 10 months, it’s clear that online safety software will save you time, concern, worry and importantly money.

 

Furthermore, as a manager, how do you monitor implementation, without creating unnecessary administration, or moving down a pathway of micro-management?’

– Craig Salter

Action OHS Consulting Director & Safety Champion Founder

 

 

The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll know what’s going on.

We don’t mean to scare people when we say this, but as a business owner or person in charge, you have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace for your people and anyone who visits your workplace. And when reviewing the legislation more closely, it’s clear that you must have current knowledge of the safety hazards in your workplace; and be able to demonstrate what you are actively doing to mitigating the risk associated with those hazards.

So, safety software doesn’t only make sure that things tick along, it gives business owners and managers clear, real-time oversight of the whole safety program, whenever, wherever. So, since it’s a legal requirement that you know what’s going on, should the Safety Regulator come knocking, a cloud-based safety software system is just the thing to give you a one-stop-shop to: direct, review and oversee your entire safety program.

The sooner you start, the sooner your people will thank you.

Trust us. They will thank you. They are sick and tired of trying to get people enthused about completing safety tasks, following the procedures, or keeping up with their owning training and documentation. They are also over how hard it is to let the right people know that there is a safety hazard that really needs to be addressed, and today. “Who do I tell? Where is the form again?”. “Why should I bother telling them, last time they did nothing”.

Thankfully, online safety software systems have been designed to make things easier, faster, communicate more broadly, and be more streamlined for everyone involved. It’s easier for the people behind your safety program, for you, and for the people that your safety program is there to protect – all workers and visitors! Safety Champion, for one, is a system we made specifically to simplify the process so that it will no longer be a chore to get involved in safety, it will be something that simply becomes ‘what you do’ – business as usual! Just imagine.

 

So, if after reading this, you want to get an online safety management software system up and running sooner rather than later, contact us. We’d love to take you through ours – we’re darn confident it’ll help.

A simple 5-step process to your safety management system…

We’re not going to beat around the bush. There’s the long-winded, jargon-clad explanation for how important safety management systems are, why you need them, the health and safety legislative requirements you have as a business owner, your moral obligations, etc, etc. And all that stuff is true. But there’s also a simpler and more straightforward way of looking at it. That is –

 

A safety management system is just an elegant name for what your business actually does to manage and mitigate safety risks to your people at work.

 

That’s it. Pretty clean and clear now right?

 

And we’d argue that it’s important to break it down into this simplistic way of looking it, and keeping this in mind as you build out and improve your safety management system.

 

Why? Because – without knowledge of what good can look like, safety just has a special way of becoming very complex and complicated within businesses as they try to do more and the more to address things – we see it time and time again. When actually, the reality is, that if you manage and mitigate the safety risks effectively, you’ve nailed it.

 

So, how do you manage and mitigate the safety risks effectively in a comprehensive and effective safety management system? Here’s a nice clear process:

 

1. COMMIT TO IT –

This is first on the list because, quite frankly, without the explicit commitment from management teams to any safety efforts, no matter how good the intention was, it never really quite works. So commit to it and, importantly, show your commitment to your people at every level and often.

 

2. PLAN IT –

Think about all the things you want to address when it comes to the health and safety of your people. Write it down. If you don’t know what you want to address – ask your team! Or start with common injuries and hazards for your industry – read this blog. Then when you’ve got a pretty robust and comprehensive list, prioritise the issues, putting the most hazardous first and determine how and when you will address these.

 

3. DO IT –

It can be tricky to ensure the implementation of your plan happens, and continues to happen – this is why you should write it down. It is likely that you’ll need to delegate tasks, provide deadlines, and make sure your people are trained, ready and willing. Read more on how to encourage greater buy in from your team here.

 

4. CHECK IT –

Set up regular check-ins to make sure you are on track with your plan. This part is about monitoring what you’ve done, looking at the data, and evaluating how well you did. Or even whether you can do it better another way next time.

 

5. DO IT AGAIN –

You’ve likely heard of the continuous improvement cycle when it comes to safety management systems? Well this is that integral part to it all. You must repeat this process over and over again. This is simply because things change at work – the hazards may change, your people may change, the legislation may change, etc. Remember there is always something you can improve upon when it comes to health and safety.

 

To be perfectly honest with you, a safety software like Safety Champion was made (quite literally) for this kind of thing – to help you to keep the planning, doing and checking of your safety management system on track and moving effortlessly. We promise it’ll help. It will make your safety program effortless (compared to the alternative), efficient and sustainable.

 

Remember, if you get lost – just keep bringing it back to this; “What we are really trying to do is manage and mitigate risk to people in our workplace.” That’s it. Keep it at the forefront of everything you do and you’ll be in a good place.

 


 

Looking for more detail on Safety Management Systems? Review our past blogs:

Safety Management Systems: A comprehensive overview

 

The [very real] value of an effective incident reporting system

Any safety professional or scholar will tell you one of the core components of an effective safety management system is taking on a participatory approach[1]. Why is this so important? Because it’s your workers themselves who will likely be coming across safety hazards and risks in your workplace as they go about their day-to-day work. And since they are the ones you’re liable to protect from harm, it’s a good idea to hear what they have to say, and to encourage them to actively participate in your safety management system.

 

One important way your people can and should participate in your safety management system is through the regular and accurate reporting of incidents. This includes everything from ‘near miss’ incidents – read our blog on what those are here if you are unsure – through to the more serious incidents that we all wish never happened.

 

Isn’t it a bad thing if my staff are reporting incidents?

You may think it’s a negative thing to encourage your people to report incidents regularly. And you may worry that having many reported incidents may reflect poorly on your business. But – trust us – encouraging regular incident reporting is in fact a very, very good thing.

 

This is because effective incident reporting processes will ensure that you receive very real, relevant and valuable data – specific to your workplace – about the hazards that have the potential to cause harm to your workers, and any visitors to your workplace. And this data can be used to help you know what to focus on when it comes to making your workplace safer. Which is exactly what you are tasked to do under the health and safety legislation. Plus, having a solid and demonstrable incident reporting system or process in place is also a requirement of the legislation.

 

There is real value in having an effective incident reporting system that all of your staff can actively participate in. Data from the incident reports will guide you to the hazards are that you should be addressing, and advise if current controls you have in place might be falling short in effectively reducing risks. It will inform you of the real operational hazards, rather than the ‘hazards as imagined’ in the office.

 

What about my legal requirements with incident reporting?

And legally speaking, it is a requirement for you to have an incident reporting system to collect and collate your incident data, so that you can identify trends over time. This becomes powerful when you can start to dive into what’s really going on in specific work areas or departments within your business; age- or work-history profiles of you workers; or root causes.

 

This kind of data analysis and reporting will actually help you step back from the management and investigation of single incidents and see the bigger picture. And it’s this bigger picture that can help guide your whole safety management system towards reducing the number of incidents, reducing the severity of incidents, and boosting the overall impact of your safety management system. It can support the procurement of new equipment, or ensure procedures are review more meaningfully.

 

 

Needless to say, Safety Champion Software can assist you with both an easy-to-use and customisable incident reporting form that everyone in your business can use, and powerful reporting so that you can gain insights from incident reporting trends. Take photos when reporting on your phone at the incident site and upload attachments at will.

 

Contact us if you would like to hear more or check out our incident reporting module. We have developed our incident reporting module so that you can customise your own questions and response fields, so you won’t need to give up on that content that is super specific and important to you.

 


 

[1] Gallagher, C, Underhill, E & Rimmer, M 2003, ‘Occupational safety and health management systems in Australia: barriers to success’, Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 67-81.

 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels – Thanks!

Safety just won’t happen without effective leadership

Some have argued that leadership may be almost the single most powerful component of workplace culture[1]. Therefore, it follows that effective leadership is also important for safety practices to function at their best. We’ve found this to be pretty bang on. Our consultants often find that a poor workplace culture and poor safety performance, usually goes hand-in-hand with poor leadership.

 

While, this may be obvious to some – it isn’t to all. Often it can be organisational leaders themselves who are not acutely aware of their pivotal role in developing the workplace culture that promotes a safe work environment. So, if you’re a leader and thinking “Geez, I gotta get onto this” – or if you play a bit of an influential role with the leaders in your workplace – read on to learn how leaders can better promote a stronger safety culture.

 

Watch our health and safety 101 free course.

 

Just why is leadership so important in building a strong safety culture?

 

Well, it’s the actions of leaders that set a personal example for desired workplace behaviour. Leaders can be very influential when they are seen by workers to follow and promote established safety rules, policies, procedures and standards.

 

Wise words from a safety guru:

 

“Top management must be committed to excellence and drive the agenda by establishing a vision, values and goals.”[2] James Meville Stewart, author of Managing for World Class Safety.

 

Wise words from one of our gurus:

 

“What interests my manager, fascinates me.” Craig Salter (most likely paraphrased from somewhere on the internet).

 

What do leaders need to succeed in building a strong safety culture?

 

  • Leaders must possess both the desire to act and a clear understanding of the specific behaviours that lead to excellent safety performance.
  • Leaders should focus on determining and then representing the values and behaviours required to strengthen workplace practices.
  • Leaders must not only say the right things, they must actively drive the development, implementation and enforcement of safety management systems to keep it moving.
  • Leaders should seek advice from safety professionals to guide and advise on an evidence-based approach to health and safety management, suited to their business.
  • Leaders should be involved in safety meetings and regularly include safety in their conversations and communications.

 

So if you are adopting the “do as I say, not as I do” approach to safety leadership – you are way off the mark. Chances are, you’re not developing a culture. Even if you are punishing those workers caught working outside “your rules” and even if they are appropriate controls in and of themselves, it simply won’t bring about the culture you are after you if you don’t adopt the rules yourself.

 

Put simply, if you don’t need to follow the rules, why should others?

 

 

As a leader, just how do you change safety culture for the better?

 

Whilst it is usually found that an organisation cannot change the core beliefs of the individuals within it, an organisational leader can certainly change the core culture of the collective. This is done by not only saying, but also doing. This is done by leaders adhering to the rules they lay out for everyone.

 

They must exemplify the change they wish to see in the workplace.

 

If in reading this, you are thinking “I need to do better” or that the leaders in your organisation need to do better, you’re probably right. Because, after all, all of us have the right to come to a workplace that protects our health and safety. The ignorance of leadership in your organisation may indeed be negatively affecting you, your colleagues and the leaders themselves.

 

 

And if you need a little help with implementing a health and safety management system to work alongside your strong safety leadership, contact us today!

 

[1] Simon, S.I. and R.A. Carrillo. Improving Safety Performance Through Cultural Interventions. In Safety Health & Asset Protection: Management Essentials, R.W. Lack, 2nd Edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002.

[2] Stewart, J.M. Managing for World Class Safety. New York. John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

 

Why we should all support diversity in the workplace…

This week is Harmony Week in Australia. What used to be a single day – Harmony Day held on 21 March to coincide with United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – is now a whole week of celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity, inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone in our community. With recent events, this week is sure to hold great emotion for some amongst us.

 

This year’s Harmony Week got us thinking about diversity and equality in the workplace. We like to think of ourselves as a pretty inclusive and welcoming sort of workplace – it’s something that we really love about working at Safety Champion. But what does it even mean to be diverse in the workplace? And how important is it for your business?

 

Employee diversity is increasing more and more. Of course – once upon a time – women, people from varying ethnic or religious backgrounds, or people with disabilities, to name but a few, did not find it easy to secure a position in the workplace. Thankfully, now, things have changed – and are continuing to change! Whilst we have come a long way, we know that more can be done.

 

We did a bit of research to discover what’s so good about this change. Here’s what we found – some pretty strong reasons for assuring you have diversity and equality on board in your workplace;

 

With greater workplace diversity comes more innovation and creativity.

People from different walks of life bring new perspectives and ideas to the table. These perspectives can improve the way your team works together and the service or product you deliver. Such improvements are simply good for business.

 

With greater workplace diversity comes opportunity for better and wider customer or partner interactions.

With greater diversity in your team, it’s possible you’ll open up a conversation with people you might not have otherwise. Additionally, your service or product might change for the better to incorporate or accommodate more diverse customers and partners.

 

With greater workplace diversity comes opportunity to learn tolerance, flexibility and adaptability.

Trust us, when your people can cultivate these things, they will be happier at work. And in general, for that matter. You’ll find the opposite of these three traits in almost every miserable person on the planet. And happy staff means lower staff turnover and lower costs on recruitment. Yay!

 

Workplace diversity is not only good for business – it’s good for people. We can all get something amazing out of increased diversity and inclusiveness. So, next time you are recruiting stay open to diversity and inclusiveness.

 

And if you’re already in a pretty diverse workplace – think about how you can learn more about each others culture this Harmony Week. You can even hold a public or private event and register it here. We already have – our office lunch in the park this Thursday! We think we might do a “pot luck” lunch, where we can each bring a plate of food that has meaning to us, to provide an opportunity for greater conversation.

 

Learn more about Harmony Day here: https://www.harmony.gov.au/

5 ways leaders can get safety really moving in 2019

You may have read our recent blog Safety just won’t happen without effective leadership a little while ago. In that article we argued that for safety culture to work and work well, it needs the support and influence of the leaders in an organisation. This is one of the most critical components for the assurance of an effective safety culture.

 

We’d almost go so far as to confidently say, if you don’t have the support of your leadership team as you develop and implement safety practices, you’re up for a hard slog. Sorry to say – and it breaks our heart as super pro-safety people – but we’ve seen it time and time again. Your leaders must be in full support of your safety program if you want your safety culture to really thrive.

 

So – what can you do about building a stronger safety culture?

If you are a leader, or you have great influence on the leaders in your workplace, read on. These are the behaviours that we’d suggest the leaders in your organisation should take on to promote safety excellence:

 

1. Set expectations.

Just like leaders do in other facets of business, leaders must translate their vision for safety into clear expectations and accountabilities, and filter this through all levels of the organisation. This provides a platform to enforce rewards, recognition and consequences, which will ultimately drive better behaviours and stronger safety culture.

 

2. Educate and train.

Leaders must provide education, training and resources to their people to ensure that employees are fully prepared and ready for excellence in safety performance. It is not enough to set the goals and then leave staff without the tools they need to succeed. Education starts at induction, then training should consider both operational specific skills and knowledge (i.e. how to do a work task) and process specific skills and knowledge (i.e. how to ensure policies or procedures are successfully implemented).

 

3. Power to the people.

By taking on points 1 and 2, leaders are well on their way with empowering their people to succeed. But leaders also must give their people the authority, flexibility and partnership they require to perform and achieve. This involves trust and (if you are one of those types) relinquishing control. In the words of Elsa from ‘Frozen‘ – “let it go”!

safety champion safety software safety culture tips for leaders

 

4. Encourage.

Leaders absolutely must continuously inspire, reassure and encourage their people to strive for excellence and meet organisational targets. It’s not enough to do this once at the beginning of the year and forget about it. Your people will lose focus on safety if leaders are not keeping it top of mind year-round.

 

5. Check in.

Leaders need to measure, monitor and review the effectiveness of their safety goals and make any necessary changes as they go. There’s no point without this step, quite frankly.

 

That’s it from us – our two cents. If you are an aspiring leader in safety, take on the above advice and you will be better placed to succeed, along with your people and your entire safety management system. And if you are looking for a software system to help you implement the nitty gritty of your safety program with ease, so you can focus on the bigger stuff outlined above, give us a bell at Safety Champion or jot down your details here and we’ll be in contact.

 

Sign up to our 100% safety software today

 

 

 

 


Keen to get safety sorted in 2019?

March is approaching swiftly. So, if you haven’t started your safety planning yet, it may mean you’re stuck or not sure where to start. But that’s totally ok. At Safety Champion, our mission is to provide clear and simple direction to uncomplicate safety management. In fact, during the last half of 2018 we held a four-part health and safety 101 webinar – The War on Safety – with this simple objective.

 

A number of attendees of the War on Safety mentioned that they found little nuggets of gold within the series that helped them look at their health and safety program in a slightly different way. Attendees mentioned they felt more confident to ‘do safety stuff’ and improve things at their workplace, without an increase in perceived effort. One little nugget stood out and it was this:

 

Identify what can hurt people in your workplace, then, actively work towards fixing and managing those things so people don’t get hurt.

 

So simple.

 

So if you are stuck with where to start your safety planning for 2019, this is our best piece of advice for a starting point. The truth is, if you do this well, you are likely to be doing safety extremely well.

 

But what does this look like in practice? Here’s some practical step-by-step advice for how you could approach this:

  1. Schedule a meeting (as a collective, or as individuals) with people across the business who undertake operational activities.
  2. Ask your team what they understand to be the health and safety risks associated with their work – don’t talk, listen.
  3. If they have a long list, potentially ask them to identify the:
    1. two (2) hazards that could have the greatest consequence (i.e. where they, or others could be seriously injured, or even die); and,
    2. two (2) hazards that they are exposed to, which they have to manage regularly. These hazards may have a minor, or significant consequence.

Remember: Don’t challenge. You asked for their opinion. You already know and have your opinion. After this meeting you can work together to manage hazards that all parties see as reasonable and practicable.

  1. Without challenging your team, working through the hazards identified within point 3, or points 3(a) and 3(b). Ask them, what do they do to ensure that people don’t get injured as they perform their tasks at work – again, don’t talk, listen.
  2. Thank them for their role in establishing a safer workplace.
  3. Then ask, what else could they, or the business, do to better ensure that people don’t get injured. If you do start to have a conversation here, don’t comment negatively towards their suggestions.
  4. Document the conversation – if you need a tool to support documentation, contact us, and we will provide you with the template that we have made available to all of our Safety Champion Clients within our Version Control and Documents Module.

 

A lot of businesses get so overwhelmed by the ‘doing’ of safety. This is often because they don’t involve their workers. They forget that in its rawest form, safety is about preventing incidents. They find it hard to start, because they look to do ‘legal compliance’ rather than explicitly looking at ways the work that they do, could hurt their workers, or people exposed to the work that they do.

 

But our advice? Initially focus on this. Once you identify a way that your workers or others could get hurt, you can then explore the legislation and guidance material to familiarise yourself with appropriate methods of control.

 

Once you have identified things that you will do to reduce the likelihood people getting hurt by your operations (i.e. via training, meetings, inspections, maintenance, etc.) document this, set-reminders, build sustainability. This is what managing your health and safety obligations looks like.

 

We feel incredibly privileged to hear such positive feedback from the people who joined the War on Safety webinar series. Not only has this feedback helped us to refine and improve the way our Action OHS Consulting consultants work with clients, or how our software Safety Champion functions; it was also just awesome to hear from listeners telling us that they were now confident to talk about safety within their workplaces.

 

We’re heartened by this – because as safety geeks ourselves – what we really want is to build safer and happier workplaces.

 

If you are keen to download the full War on Safety Webinar series so you can get safety sorted for 2019 from today – do so here.

 

What on earth is a near miss? And why should I care…

 

To make this terminology slightly more accessible – a ‘near miss’ could simply be called a ‘close call.’ It’s any time that someone in your workplace might have narrowly avoided injury or harm. Sounds like an ok outcome, right? An injury avoided! Great, let’s get on with our work. But actually near misses are worth a closer look.

 

It may sound laborious and you are probably thinking, ‘Of course, the health and safety people want to investigate that near miss further.’ Perhaps you think this may be a waste of time, effort and money. After all, no one was hurt. But actually near misses – from a safety management perspective – are gold. Why? Well, not only did no one get hurt (yay!) but they are also brilliant opportunities to learn about the hazards and risks in your workplace.

 

 

What’s our advice about how to use near miss data?

 

Essentially, as a business owner or a manager, you are trying to create a workplace that means your people will go home every night happy, healthy and in tact. This means, you need to recognise possible hazards and reduce the risk of injury and harm. So, it’s worthwhile starting to look at near misses as great indications of what hazards need to be addressed to improve safety in your workplace.

 

Start to build a culture of reporting near misses. If near misses are reported and then properly addressed, you are doing your job to protect the health and safety of your people.

 

It’s also important to note here that an organisation may be prosecuted in the case of a near miss. Yes, this can be the case even when no one has been injured. Why? Well, in some cases it may be deemed negligent of an organisation to have exposed people to risk – whether the likelihood of that risk is high or low. So, even more incentive to get your people in the habit of reporting near misses.

 

So how can you promote and improve your near miss reporting?

 

  • Explicitly ask your workers at team meetings of near misses or close calls that they have been involved with, and
  • Make ‘near miss’ reporting clear, simple and easy! Not sure how? Consider implementing a health and safety software program like Safety Champion. Safety Champion will allow workers to report near misses, and ensure that these are communicated to key stakeholders in the business to manage.

 

Once you start to get workers reporting ‘near misses’, don’t forget to establish controls to ensure that the likelihood of the ‘event’ occurring again in the future is reduced. Once you have reduced the potential impact of the hazard, then, you are doing your job – and doing it really well. See – near miss data is awesome and can really help you build a stronger safety management system.

Do you flow?

 

Flow. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Maybe you haven’t. But flow is defined to be when a person experiences a state of consciousness where they are totally absorbed in their work, and enjoy it immensely. It’s sounds pretty good and something that both employees and employers should probably chase for the sake of increased productivity levels and worker happiness!

 

Interestingly, the concept of flow is reserved more for the workplace. People report states of flow occurring more commonly in their work, in comparison to all the other activities they choose to do outside of work.

 

For example, surgeons often report experiencing flow when they are completely absorbed in an 8 hour surgery. When it happens the concept of time often evaporates, as does any feelings of anxiety or stress.

 

So how can you experience a state of flow? The million dollar question…

 

Well, flow occurs when a perfect balance is found between the challenge that a task presents, and a person’s ability to perform the task. The task can’t be too easy or too hard, and you have to perceive it this way for it to all work. There needs to be some sense of ‘I can do this’ but that it’s still a challenge. Additionally, research suggests there are three core elements in flow;

 

  1. Intrinsic motivation – this is not just enjoying your work enough to be motivated to do it, but also being fascinated by it and deriving pleasure from it!
  2. Absorption – this is total, 100%, uninterrupted concentration on the task at hand.
  3. Enjoyment – and this one is obvious – no definition required!

 

So, it’s a pretty special experience and perhaps not something that is possible for every person to experience every day. But next time you catch yourself in a brief moment of flow, feel free to smile. Because it’s likely indicative of the fact that the current task at hand meets your professional skill level at a perfect balance. And what a lovely place to be!

 

We asked our software development team when they are in flow…

 

And interestingly, it all revolved around development of ‘new’ Safety Champion modules. Our developers spoke about the ‘challenge’ associated with getting it all to work, all to fit together. Figuring out how to deliver what we need the user functionality to be, in alignment with the brief from the health and safety consultants, and with their own skill level in whichever platform they use. This is the moment they most commonly experienced it. Makes sense.

 

When do you flow?

3 things you probably don’t think could be true about workplace bullying

 

Workplace bullying or workplace victimisation can lead to a range of negative outcomes for everyone involved.

 

Stress, low job satisfaction, burnout, depression, presenteeism and absenteeism are some of the more commonly discussed, and all of severely impact workplace productivity.

 

This list alone should make you want to ensure a bully-free workplace environment. And there are even more possible negative impacts that you may be less likely to think about straight away – including cardiovascular problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and resignations.

 

There’s clearly a big reason why we’re all talking about workplace bullying right now. But the topic isn’t as simple as many initially think.

 

Here are three things that may challenge your assumptions of workplace bullying and how it works:

 

 

1. Subordinates can bully their seniors.

Don’t be fooled. It is certainly possible for bullying to occur up, down and across traditional lines of reporting in the workplace. Additionally, bullying can even occur between organisations too. Be careful not to assume that bullying behaviour is restricted to managers or those with traditional organisational power.

2. Victims are not always submissive and insecure.

It may be possible for victims to display what might be thought of as personality traits clearly suited to a bully. Some research has suggested that aggressive, hostile or irritating traits may combine to create a provocative character in a person, when paired with certain other personalities that may be more reactive. So, be careful not to assume that these kinds of character traits must be indicative of a bully in all cases.

3. Bullies and victims can switch roles interchangeably.

It is not always easy to know who is the perpetrator and who is the victim, as this may change over time, repeatedly, and as new players come into the scene. Consider the interplay between the personalities of different people – one may provoke, while the other reacts. Then one retaliates, as the other defends. It’s best to consider each bullying scenario as ‘relational’ – a social interaction – and avoid blaming the perpetrator or blaming the victim.

 

Remember that workplace bullying is not only a horrible experience for those directly involved, but it doesn’t do anything positive for the workplace culture in which it occurs. So, be sure to build the kind of workplace culture that refuses to harbour bullying. Learn more about the factors at play in our blog Should I be worried about my staff being bullied at work?

 

The Juggler Part 3: Training the Juggler

In many organisations, the Juggler is your “Safety Champion” – the person that keeps workplace safety on track and moving. Remember, the Juggler is the person, typically in smaller and medium sized businesses, who has been allocated the responsibility of ‘managing’ safety, in addition to their ’employed’ role.

 

As a result, the Juggler has often not completed formal safety training, which then impacts their ability to effectively manage your businesses safety program. In this article, we thought we’d share some of the training options that can help you give the Juggler the right skills to effectively do their job.

 

There are a few formal training course options:

  • The Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Training course – This course imparts extensive knowledge relating to consultation (through representation), legislation and incident investigation. However, areas such as risk management, technical knowledge, training and safety communication are also covered. The course varies from state to state. In Victoria, our sister-company Action OHS Consulting offer this course. Click for more.
  • The Certificate IV or Diploma in WHSThese courses address the skill needs of the Juggler but completion times are long – up to twelve months. Check with your local TAFE or RTO to see if they offer these courses.
  • For Queenslanders – WorkCover Queensland recognised a gap in training for the Juggler and has reintroduced training for the Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO). The WHSO training provides knowledge in risk management, training implementation, and incident investigation skills.

 

Effective training and development solutions for the Juggler should include the following skill areas:

  • Understanding the legal and regulatory health and safety requirements –what does the law require you to do?;
  • Developing an approach to identify and manage risk (with a focus on serious risk);
  • Developing technical knowledge on areas specific to your organisation. This may include manual handling or ergonomics, hazardous chemicals, work at heights, etc;
  • Development of ‘communication’ and ‘influencing’ skills. Safety challenge’s often arise as a result of ineffective communication; and/or
  • Responding to incidents, and identifying strategies to conduct investigations, to best ensure that reoccurrences do not occur.

 

If formal training is not an option right now, or it’s something the Juggler at your workplace already has under their belt (yay!), the Juggler can also receive support by:

  • Subscribing to safety updates from their local regulator and Safe Work Australia.
  • Establishing a relationship with a certified safety professional. Think of this like how a bookkeeper maintains the company financial accounts on a day-to-day basis, but calls in certified Accountant for technical advice. Safety professionals can provide technical insights and advice when the Juggler requires specific safety assistance.
  • Adopt safety software – like, say, Safety Champion! Safety Champion will help you plan, and then guide and direct the Juggler to what they need from everyone else in the organisation. It helps everyone in the organisation understand their responsibilities and accountabilities, and means that the Juggler won’t have to police the implementation of your health and safety program. Often, this administration takes time, and policing is not fun, so it is not hard to see why this part of safety management is where the wheels often fall off.

 

Don’t forget – the Juggler is playing a super important role within your workplace. So show your love by giving them access to effective development options and support.

Check out the other blogs in “The Juggler” blog series:

Part 1 – Who is the Juggler

Part 2 – Show your support to the Juggler

What on earth is psychological safety?

So, psychological safety. Maybe you remember that a few years ago Google released their findings about what makes the perfect team following some internal research. It was pretty big at the time. But in case you missed it, what they found was that ‘psychological safety’ was not only the most important factor of a successful team, it actually underpinned all the other factors.

 

Psychological safety is the understanding that members of a team will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, or concerns, and even admitting to mistakes or shortfalls. It is all about ensuring that team members feel comfortable and safe in taking risks and even feeling vulnerable on occasion around each other.

 

To put it into practical terms, think of the poorest team you have been part of – this may be in a work, sporting or personal relationship context. Maybe it was an absolute drag to meet with them. Maybe you felt like you were never going to achieve what you set out to achieve as a team. Or maybe there might have even been conflicts amongst the team members.

 

If you’ve experienced anything like this, it’s likely – according to Google’s research – that the team wasn’t psychologically safe. This is what prevents a team from thriving.

 

So, how do you go about getting psychological safety in a team?

 

Well, whether you are a manager or coach, a facilitator, a team participant or partner, the advice is largely the same;

 

  1. Be open to new ideas
  2. Respect those in your team and their views
  3. Listen without interruption

 

This, put simply, is treating others as you’d like to be treated yourself! Easy yeah?

 

And we think – like Google – that psychological safety is a critical factor when it comes to strong workplace health and safety. After all, if people don’t feel they can speak up about what’s making them feel unsafe, how can you go about fixing it and preventing injury or harm?

 

Here’s a link to that Google work on psychological safety that we mentioned earlier.

 

Some other useful articles along these psychological safety lines:

https://www.safetychampion.com.au/should-i-be-worried-about-my-staff-being-bullied-at-work/

https://www.safetychampion.com.au/5-things-we-do-to-keep-our-team-happiness-level-on-a-high/

The silly season is upon us…

Santa suits, party buses, free-flowing bubbly, finger food, high heels and party hats, end-of-year toasts, marquees, dance floors…

 

This time of year certainly is a lot of fun.

 

It’s the time we get to let our hair out with our colleagues, peers and mates to celebrate the year and look forward to the year ahead. But as a business, it’s important to know how you can keep your people safe during the silly season.

 

After all, workplace health and safety responsibilities still apply at workplace-endorsed events. And businesses may even be liable for any employee injuries that occur before, during or after a workplace function.

 

Suggestions for keeping it safe, healthy & happy

 

Think about possible things that could go wrong and come up with some ways you can mitigate the risk of them occurring.

 

Examples are;

 

  • Uninvited and unwelcome guests could easily enter the venue if it’s a function room of a public bar, for example. So, getting security at the door could prevent this from happening.

  • Cuts from glassware might occur if there is a strong potential that they may be dropped. So can you provide plastic cup, cans or bottles?

  • If the event is being held outside or somewhere outside of your workplace, think about how first aid incidents be managed? Don’t limit yourself to injuries, could there be allergies? Take a first aid kit with you!

 

Need safety software, free of charge? Use our GO FREE plan.

 

  • Let your people know what behaviour you expect. Formalise it. Send out an email, or bring it up in the next staff meeting. Talk about the disciplinary consequences that may take place if behaviour doesn’t align.

  • Clearly set out defined start and finish times for the event and ensure that these are stated on the invitation. Note that if a manager throws their card behind the bar at a different venue, so the party can continue, it is likely that this will be seen as a work-sanctioned event.

  • Ensure that your people can get safely to and from the venue. In some states, workers compensation obligations extend to the journey to and from work – in this case, ‘work’ is the company-endorsed event.

  • Consider restricting the amount of drinks, or the “strength” of drinks that are available. Always have non-alcoholic alternatives available. This could even be fun! Like offering a refreshing ‘company-branded’ mocktail part-way through the event.

  • A meal or finger food can slow down alcohol consumption, so ensure you have enough! Nobody enjoys an event when the food runs out early either.

 

 

And we wouldn’t be good health and safety people if we didn’t also suggest you have a bit of a debrief after.

 

Pop a meeting in your calendar for the event organisers to meet post-the-event to discuss how everything went. Document ways that things could be improved for next time!

 

That’s it from us – have an awesome, fun and safe silly season!

 

It’s the perfect month, week and day to take action on mental health

Why now?

 

Because…

 

This month is National Safe Work Month in Australia…

 

And this week is Mental Health Week in most parts of the country…

 

And today (10/10) is World Mental Health Day around the globe.

 

So today is the day of all days to take action and encourage mentally healthier and safer workplaces in Australia.

 

“Around 90 per cent of employees think mental health is an important issue for businesses, but only 50 per cent believe their workplace is mentally healthy.”

TNS (2014). State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia. Melbourne: beyondblue. Link to report

 

How can you take action?

 

Building a mentally stronger and healthier workplace doesn’t have to be super complex.

 

As a starting point, it can be as simple as taking a note from great organisations like RUOK – and simply check in with your colleagues, staff or even (yes they are a person too!) your boss by asking “Are you ok?”

 

Just opening up the conversation about mental health in your workplace will already set you on the path towards reducing the stigma and getting people that vital support when they need it.

 

Keen to learn more? Well, there’s a wealth of freely available knowledge out there to assist you. Of all of these, the one spot we’d really recommend you go if you want to learn more about what you can do in the mental health space in the workplace, is Heads Up.

 

Heads Up was created by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, a collection of amazingly knowledgeable organisations – including beyondblue, Safe Work Australia and Black Dog Institute to name a few – working together to develop information and materials to help us all build mentally stronger workplaces. Check it out: https://www.headsup.org.au/

 

At Safety Champion we care a lot about keeping people at work mentally and physically well at work. This is why we are in business. And it’s also why we offer a completely free version of our software to any business that also cares about the health and safety of their people at work!

 

Keen to try it? Learn more about our free safety software here.

 

 

Some quick ideas:

  • Follow the work of great organisations like RUOk, beyondblue, Safe Work Australia and the Black Dog Institute

  • Take some training in Mental Health First Aid – or encourage a workmate to

  • Spend some time on the Heads Up website to get great resources and guidance specifically about workplace mental health

  • Get serious about health and safety practices. A safety software can really help you out – try our Go Free plan

 

Let’s make mentally healthier and safer workplace together! We can all be safety champion’s this National Safe Work Month!

 

Why you should take note of ‘startup’ principles in your workplace…

There are some pretty innovative things going on in the world right now. It’s an exciting time. There’s a stack of people out there solving some pretty big problems, with relatively little money and resources. And it’s the startup culture that’s really helping to drive those people to strive and achieve… against all odds.

 

So, when you think about it. It makes sense to pay a little attention to the startup world – even if you’re not a part of it at all right now. Why? Because, if this culture can mobilise some incredible change and progress for humankind, with very little time, money or resources, it’s worth questioning how?! And further, how can you adopt some of the startup principles in your own workplace?

 

So, as a business that adopts quite a few startup principles ourselves, here’s three points of advice:

 

Just start

This is a big one. It means throwing away some of our old school thinking which for some may be developing a five-year plan and thinking about every detail over and over and over again once more before we start doing anything. This is ‘old school’. And it fosters inaction, stagnation. Often there can be a real be benefit in just starting… start small, start with what you can, test your idea. If you get some traction or interest – build on it. This stays true whether it’s an internal project you want to get off the ground or starting the world’s next most awesome everyone-must-have software system (like, say, Safety Champion!)

 

Stay very close to your customer

Seriously, you’re customer is key. They know your product or service. Maybe they know it better than you – at least in a practical sense. Listening to their thoughts, gripes and advice helps you to build, grow and improve your product or service. It’s hard to listen to sometimes, but you have to be open to it. If you stay close to your customer and learn from them – you can build a better product while also building a stronger and more personal relationship with your customer.

 

Never assume you’re done

This kinda follows on from the last. But never assume you have the perfect product or service and that you are done with it. It can always be improved. Always. Yes, always. So even if you’re a small business that’s been delivering consulting services for the last 10 years and you reckon you’ve got the model right, there are still ways you can improve that service. Keep learning. Keep building and improving upon your product or service and you’ll be sure to stay in the game or ahead of it.

 

 

So that’s it from us. Some of the principles we build our business on. Hope you find it useful for your next project or initiative or business idea!

 

 

The Juggler Part 2: Show your support for the Juggler!

The importance of the Juggler is clear, as many bosses and business owners know only too well.

 

Not sure what we mean by the Juggler? Check out this blog.

 

However, when your business introduces a Juggler – or many Jugglers – they really must be supported. And this is something that is often missed. Not supporting the Juggler in your business poses a risk. This means they are not in a solid position to keep health and safety in check and – as is important – are not able to continue to improve your health and safety program.

 

So, how can businesses show their support to the Juggler? Generally, support falls into three areas; leadership support, provision of training / instruction, and allocation of resources. Below is some practical advice for any business looking to help their Juggler out!

 

Leadership Support

The boss must communicate the need for all workers to carry out safety related tasks and, when required, must step in to support the Juggler. Whilst the Juggler will require that others complete safety tasks to support the implementation of the safety program; some people in the business may see these tasks as peripheral. If the Juggler is not able to articulate the importance of the safety task, this is where the boss needs to intervene. When a boss shows the support of the work of a Juggler – generally the rest of the staff fall in line.

Of course, this is made easier if the boss can easily see what tasks are required to be completed by all workers and track progress. A safety software like Safety Champion does help to provide this kind of oversight.

 

Training/Instruction

Since the Juggler is often performing a safety function without formal health and safety training behind them, it’s important to realise that they may need it so that they can perform well in this role. The Juggler often acts as the ‘representative’ of the boss, consulting and communicating with all employees. As such they must be able to speak with conviction to be able to influence others to get behind safety. Should specific technical safety knowledge be required, this can always be undertaken through other means – namely the Safety Regulator, by engaging advice from an OHS professional or employer groups. But the Juggler, no doubt, needs solid training and instruction about their role and responsibilities first.

There is a lot of free training that can be accessed via webinars, free conferences initiated by government departments, councils, industry groups or the regulator, and often free training that is offered by your Workers Compensation Agent. If you’re not sure where to look – Contact Us.

 

Safety Resources

The boss must be prepared to purchase required safety material and equipment to support the Juggler in their role. Resources like these should be part of any risk management solution, and should be budgeted for purchase, maintenance and replacement. One resource that is not often considered is possibly the one most effective in enabling the Juggler to do their work – that of data management. Being able to easily track and progress safety tasks that are being completed by others makes the work of the Juggler easier. And it makes it more likely that safety related tasks will be done, full stop!

So, yeah – it could be argued that this is the lifeblood of health and safety.

 

Having solid support in place to help the Juggler will mean that the boss and everyone else will benefit from effective health and safety practices, which everyone can be confident in making the workplace safety and often operationally more efficient.

Who is responsible for health and safety anyway?

You might find it surprising – but in today’s modern working world it’s not just management, risk teams, and health and safety specialists that have to think about health and safety in the workplace. Everyone has their part to play in living the mantra of “work safe, home safe”. This is how we make sure that everyone goes home safely at the end of each day.

Having a good level of health and safety awareness is key to maintaining an effective safety culture in your workplace. But how do you bring your people on board with this stuff when it all seems too complicated and really just not engaging enough. Well, the trick is to help health and safety responsibilities become naturally embedded in the day-to-day activities of all staff. Aim to be implicit [1] with safety, not explicit. [2]

How?

Well, here are our 3 top tips for starting to create an awareness of health and safety responsibilities without your people switching-off:

 

  1. Start at the top

Make health and safety a strategic and operational priority of your organisation, with management regularly communicating and emphasising its importance to all staff. Do this in as many ways as possible; try adding a safety line item to your regular and existing weekly all staff meetings, or simply “just ask” your staff for input about the hazards they are aware of, or even sharing a blog every once in a while with the workplace. It doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming – but management leading the way is important!

 

  1. Tailor it

Health and safety legislation and standards are wide-reaching and applicable to a broad range of sectors and organisations. So, your approach to health and safety should be relevant to the industry and context of your organisation. To make it more accessible to your people start with WorkSafe’s Injury Hotspots website – and talk about exactly what is relevant in your industry and not what isn’t! Jump on that site today and print a poster or two to stick up in tea rooms and lunch areas.

 

Free safety promotion poster set for your workplace. Download now.

 

  1. Simplify it for your staff

Do away with unnecessary complexity and jargon by speaking to your people about safety in simple terms. They don’t need to see the regulations or the complex paperwork – hell, even you don’t – but reminding your staff that health and safety is simply about making sure we all go home safe at night can really bring it home for people. So if you were to ask your people to simply let you know when something doesn’t safe or feel right, that’s already an amazing step forward and brings everyone into the picture. Work with them on the solution. Keep the updated on your progress. Let them know it’s not that hard.

 

 

Don’t forget, Safety Champion can help. Our software is scalable and flexible, and can be customised to suit the health and safety needs of your business. After all, it was designed especially for the small and medium sized business market, and as such comes pre-loaded with configurable documents and workflows that you and your people need to stay safe and stay on track with safety. We have made it easy to configure our templates and workflows to align with business; not to mention, we will adopt your colours and your logos – so your workers will feel at home. Why not arrange a demo today?

 

 

[1] Implicit: Quietly, some may say sneakily trying to build safety into already existing business activities. Doing “safety” without workers/people knowing that they are “doing safety”. The process is important, not people thinking/knowing that the process is safety.

[2] Explicit: Yelling from the rooftops, placing an over-emphasis – making it the most important thing in the room, when the behaviours of managers and leaders suggests it’s not.

The Juggler Part 1 : Who is the Juggler?

Workplace health and safety is all about preventing harm to people from the activities undertaken by a business. To achieve this, employers and business owners must understand they have a duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees and anyone else who comes on site or is impacted by what the workplace does. This means both understanding the health and safety risks facing your people, visitors or clients, and eliminating (*ideally) or minimising those risks as best you can.

 

To do this most effectively, everyone in your organisation must have input into the development and implementation of your safety solutions.

 

But believe it or not, often getting everyone involved is the easy part! At least, at the start. Generally, there is an initial willingness from everyone to be involved – especially if the boss is treating safety as a priority. However, for some workplaces, the challenge is to continue the businesses focus on safety, and to ensure that the agreed safety solutions, are maintained and remain effective.

 

When things get busy, or the boss moves on to “another” focus area, or no one has time to keep those safety checks and measures in place; yep, you guessed it, it is not uncommon for safety to fall ‘off the wagon’.

 

Enter the Juggler!

 

The Juggler is the worker who puts their hand up, or is assigned, management of the operational health and safety work that doesn’t readily fall into the roles or responsibilities of other workers. The Juggler either does these things themselves, or keeps everyone else on track to get things done. Why do they keep people on track?

 

Because often these are the things that others may not be focused on doing as part of their tasks.

 

Tasks may include, to name a few, doing and/or ensuring that the following is completed: inductions and identified training; safety and operational meetings; workplace, first-aid or emergency management inspections; equipment and Personal Protective Equipment ordering and maintenance; and incident reports and workplace injuries are managed appropriately. Importantly, the Juggler is often responsible for ensuring that records and evidence of completion is maintained.

 

The Juggler might be anyone in the business, from the business owner, to the office manager or the receptionist. But whoever they are, they face diverse work duties and manage these simultaneously… just like juggling.

 

So it’s often the juggler who is left with the responsibility of managing the implementation of the safety program. Especially businesses out there that don’t have a designated “health and safety” person. But it’s important to remember that even though the Juggler is out there keeping the safety program alive, and encouraging everyone to join in – especially when or if the pulse is fading, it is vital that businesses continue to acknowledge that everyone is responsible for maintaining a safe workplace and don’t rely on the juggler.

Why you should pay attention to health and safety prosecutions data…

Last month, our sister organisation, Action OHS Consulting, put together a pretty thorough analysis of the 2017 health and safety prosecutions in Victoria and NSW; based on data from WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW. You can see the full report here. But we thought it was a pretty good time to point out why information like this is important for business leaders to take note of.

 

Prosecutions – even just the word – sounds pretty full-on (and also a little scary). For some, it encourages the placement of hands over their ears and eyes, so that they can “pretend” that they were not aware of the detail that was available. Add to that the word ‘data’, we understand, it puts you at risk of eyes glazing over!

 

However, being aware of the trends in health and safety prosecutions data is a smart move for every business.

 

This is not only so you can avoid a fine – but more importantly, this rich information that can guide you towards ways that your business can avoid injury and harm to the people in your workplace. How? By allowing your organisation foresight. Once you better understand what can go wrong, your business can make changes to current processes to ensure that you do not repeat the health and safety mistakes made by others.

 

Three ways that you can use prosecutions data to set your business up for health and safety success:

 

  1. Trends in the prosecutions data and insights from specific cases can help inform what to either include or focus-on in your health and safety program; that you may have previously overlooked.

 

  1. Prosecutions data can help support and influence key stakeholders within your organisation. It may assist with getting that health and safety-related item purchased, or that health and safety related program you’ve been trying to get off the ground finally moving.

 

  1. The data can help you to communicate the importance of adhering to health and safety protocols; and when used wisely, can motivate your people to play their part in establishing a safe workplace too.

 

So, there you have it. It will pay to stay across what has unfortunately gone wrong at other workplaces. And even if you think you are in a low-risk industry – if (touch wood) an incident that did occur in your workplace – remember hindsight is no defence. It’s likely the prosecutions data will at some stage give you a little nugget that will assist you to keep your people safer.

What on earth is an Issue Resolution Process?

What is an Issue Resolution Process, and do I need one? A lot of people ask us this. And they also ask whether they should develop one internally? And our response to this is… well yes, you should. However, if you don’t then you will automatically adopt the issue resolution procedure straight from the Regulations – so it is in your best interest to be across what it requires.

 

Essentially the intent of an issue resolution process is to make things easier for the people in your workplace to come to a resolution following an issue.

 

If you ask us, our take is that the terminology issue and resolution makes it all sound a little scary, and negative. But the short of it is, if you have a business, there will be safety hazards. And if you have employees, then it is likely that you will, on occasions have differences in opinions about how these hazards or other workplace issues are managed. By creating and communicating an issue resolution process, you are simply smoothing it all out, should these differences of opinions occur.

 

 

 

 

We know what you are thinking – does this mean pages and pages of words? No! It doesn’t need to be pages of complicated communication flows, rigid rules, and jargon. However, it does need to be a clearly defined, step-by-step process for how differences in opinion regarding safety management (i.e. issues) are escalated so they can be properly addressed.

 

So, what does your an issue resolution process need to include?

Well, these 4 things:

 

1. Report & Record

Clearly identify how your workers can raise issues. Do they tell someone, do they open an excel register and enter it in, or do they email someone? Sounds simple, but the trick is to make it clear how your people should raise an issue. If you make sure that it is recorded, no one can try to ignore the issue and use the “I didn’t know” clause at a later time. Recording the issue therefore assists in being more confident that the issue is clear, and can be attended to immediately.

 

2. Review & Assess

Who reviews the issues after they are logged? Along with the workers manager, the regulations guide you to ensure that the Health and Safety Representative (HSR) is made aware and consulted with. If you don’t have a HSR, then identify someone in your workplace with health and safety knowledge. Where possible, have a team of people assess and review the issue. This can be a good tactic because a team is more likely to find sustainable controls and resolutions that consider all parts of your business operations.

 

3. Ways to Escalate

If an issue doesn’t get addressed or resolved, where does it go next? Perhaps your people don’t have the expertise or experience to manage more serious issues. So this is where you need a clear pathway for issues to be escalated to management or even out to external parties. Typically, the issues will move from a worker to the HSR and then to the manager. Then, if the issue is not resolved at this level, it may be escalated to the manager’s manager. Then again, if it is not resolved here, it will get escalated up the management line to the CEO and/or Business Owner. And if it makes it all the way and is still not resolved, this is where external experts or the Safety Committee should be consulted. And as a final step, the State Health and Safety Regulator would be involved – here’s a list of the Australian Health and Safety Regulators.

 

4. Follow up & Close Out

How do you confirm that all issues have been addressed correctly and to the satisfaction of the person or team that raised it in the first place? This is an important part of the process – loop back and let your people know what the issue was and how you addressed it, so they can be reassured that it was resolved.

 

And another tip – once you have this process sorted, it should be communicated clearly to your people. Documenting it is a good way to make sure people have access to the information. Consider drawing up a simple and clear Issue Resolution flow chart and sticking it up around the tea room or emailing it around.

 

 

Stuck for ideas on how you can develop a simple way for health and safety issues to be raised, recorded and managed until close out? Well, Safety Champion Software has a module dedicated to do just this – yep, shipped and ready for used. Don’t make it hard and complicated for your people to raise issues that concern them. Make the ‘doing’ of Issue Resolution Process Management super simple with Safety Champion.

We’re declaring war on safety… wait, what?

That’s right. We’re declaring war. On ‘safety’. But it’s not what you think. This is the title of our upcoming webinar series designed to fight through the perceived complexity of health and safety. We were inspired by the ABC’s War on Waste program… and threw a little spin on our own title. Yes, we want to catch your attention. Because safety is important.

 

These webinars will deliver simple health and safety advice to any business out there that has a thirst for it or needs it. We want to break down health and safety into what you need to know, not what the ‘Safety Industry’ tells you you!

 

Sound good? Get access to all episodes here!

 

So, yes, declaring War on Safety is a dramatic title (*cheeky of us). But we have our reasons.

 

Actually the title The War on Safety really represents the frustrations and confusion that we see of many Australian businesses have when probed about their safety program. It is clear that many businesses don’t know where to start and need some assistance crawling before they start to walk.

 

An overview the webinar program can be found below.

 

The program has been designed by the very experienced health and safety consultants at our sister-organisation, Action OHS Consulting. So you can be confident that you will be getting practical advice from innovative and forward-thinking health and safety professionals.

 

Across a four-part series, from August to November, The War on Safety will break all that safety jargon down into bite-sized, 30-minute webinars that give practical advice to business owners and people managers that want to learn more.

 

This way we can play our part in helping businesses keep their people healthier and safer.

 

Since this webinar series is now over – we’re providing access to the recordings to anyone who is keen. Click here.

 

 

Webinar Schedule

All webinars will commence at 11am AEST

 

8 August 2018 Planning for casualties

How to develop a safety program

 

Registrations closed
12 September 2018 Can I burn them up?

Understanding the safety documents you need

 

Registrations closed
10 October 2018 Who are my allies?

Where to find free, useful resources

 

Registrations closed
14 November 2018 Now let’s get that army moving

How to make safety business as usual

 

Registrations closed

 

Should I be worried about my staff being bullied at work?

Look, maybe you don’t need to be worried about but certainly you should be aware of workplace bullying and how it can impact your people. Surprising for some – perhaps not for others – it is a real thing and something that happens in Australian workplaces often enough for us to write about it.

 

“9.4% of Australian workers indicated that they had experienced workplace bullying in the previous 6 months (Safework Australia, 2014–15)”

 

So what is workplace bullying?

 

Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. I can be carried out by one or more workers.

 

The definitions are important.

 

  • ‘Repeated behaviour’ refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.
  • ‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

 

Examples of such behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, include but are not limited to:

  • abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
  • aggressive and intimidating conduct
  • belittling or humiliating comments
  • victimisation
  • practical jokes or initiation
  • unjustified criticism or complaints
  • deliberately excluding someone from work-related activities
  • withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
  • setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
  • setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level
  • denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources to the detriment of the worker
  • spreading misinformation or malicious rumours, and
  • changing work arrangements such as rosters and leave to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or workers.

 

So what should you do to look out for your people?

 

  1. Watch out for these things happening in your workplace. Note that though they could be one-off incidences, they are certainly something you should take note of and watch carefully. Because a single occurrence could be indicative of repeated behaviour that has already happened or may happen in the future.

 

  1. Be aware of changing characteristics of your staff. People experiencing bullying could show signs such as; distress, anxiety, panic attacks, physical illness, deteriorating relationships with colleagues, family and friends, poor work performance, inability to concentrate and more.

 

  1. Talk to your staff about workplace bullying, keep it on the agenda, and reiterate your workplace has zero-tolerance for it. If you don’t have a policy and clear procedures for how your staff should manage this if it happens – get it sorted! Reach out to OHS consultants that can help set this up. As a minimum you should have:

– a policy statement, and

– be able to demonstrate that you have spoken with your workers (this may be via formal training, or toolbox talk) about what bullying is and how to report it; and,

– consider providing workers with easy access to help and/or someone to speak to if they identify a need. Obviously the Issue Resolution Process is a good start, however, you may want to consider external and confidential services like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or direction to free contacts such as Lifeline, beyondblue, Headspace, The Black Dog Institute… to name a few. Put the contact details up on a noticeboard or in internal newsletters / communications emails.

 

  1. Skill yo’self up! Read the guidelines from Safe Work Australia. Learn more about related issues and check out the available resources from Heads Up – an alliance between a handful of reputable organisations created to ensure people in Australia workplaces are mentally healthy and safe. Or take a ‘mental health first aid’ course through Mental Health First Aid Australia. There’s lots of resources out there for you to use.

 

All of these things can help you to be better aware and better prepared for workplace bullying if it happen in your workplace. Good luck!

What on earth is a toolbox talk?

If you don’t know what a toolbox talk is it’s likely you don’t work in a blue-collar-type role. Because in industries like construction, mining, warehousing, manufacturing, right through to landscaping, toolbox talks are an integral part of health and safety program and procedures.

That said, if you run a business or manage people in or outside of these industries and don’t know what a toolbox talk is… read on. Then consider integrating these into your own safety management system – the benefits can be outstanding.

Why? Because toolbox talks can be a great way for any manager or team leader to start conversations about safety in the workplace!

 

So, what are they?

Toolbox talks are short and regular meetings about safety issues relevant to a specific site, project or workplace. A manager, supervisor or health and safety representative usually runs them with all person on site prior to a shift, at the commencement of a particular part of a project, or simply on a regular basis.

So yes, toolbox talks are sort of like meeting. In white-collar workplaces these are often just what you’d call a team meeting.

In addition to site, project or workplace specific hazards, toolbox talks will often cover organisational-specific safety topics including; key definitions, reminders about established controls, and importantly, actions/tasks scheduled to be taken by the people in the team to ensure that work is undertaken safely.

 

Why have them?

In short, their purpose is to ensure the whole team understand and keep the correct health and safety practices in mind as they go about their work. They keep health and safety front-of-mind and raise awareness about a safety issues.

And because any given site or project may have different or changing safety hazards, it’s important they are held regularly and involve everyone. This helps builds that safety-first culture, and a physiologically safe workplace, where workers are provided with a safe environment to raise questions that they may have.

 

What is a common structure?

Often toolboxs talks these days will be less like a lecture or meeting, and more like an interactive discussion where everyone can and should raise their hands to be involved. What you want is for your team to be engaged, to have their concerns addressed, and to ensure that everyone walks away with a clear understanding of that safety topic and how it implicates them in their day-to-day work.

A question-answer type structure is a good way to run toolbox talks. You ask the team for their involvement and answer their questions, but at the same time have a few common questions with considered answers ready to go.

 

Should I hold toolbox talks?

We’re gonna say YES! Regardless of the industry you work in toolbox talks are a great way to discuss get the discussion moving around common hazards in your workplace.

And if you are thinking, “I work in an office – there are no hazards here,” think again. Every workplace has hazards – it may just be that the frequency that your toolbox meetings take place is adjusted. Workers have the right to know what those hazards are and how to management them – and it’s your responsibility to ensure that they have everything they need to be healthy and safe in the workplace!

 

How can I get my hands on some templates?

We’re glad you asked! Simply fill out this form, let us know what you think you need, and we’ll be in contact to help you out with some common toolbox talk templates that are relevant for your industry!

 

Does my business need a Safety Management System?

Our short answer is: yes! Every business needs an effective Health and Safety Management System because every business has people that need to be protected!

 

But don’t worry – your Health and Safety Management System doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t have to be costly. Put simply, a Health and Safety Management System is a systematic approach to keeping your health and safety tasks in check.

 

What the health and safety consultants generally won’t tell you, is that the legislation doesn’t stipulate that a business’s Health and Safety Management System has to be documented. If your workers are clear on your internal health and safety processes, this is sufficient.

 

 

That said, as businesses grow, and there are more people at the table, relying on a more “verbal” Health and Safety Management System can be challenging to implement.

 

It becomes more difficult for all of your staff to have a uniform understanding of your system and more difficult to demonstrate what compliance measures you’ve been taking to the regulator, if there was ever a need.

 

Think back to the effectiveness of Chinese whispers!

 

So, if you are not 100% confident that your health and safety message will be the same at the end, as it was at the start – this is when you should start to consider formally documenting your approaches and processes.

 

 

 

 

Ready to get started? Well, here are 5 critical components for you to consider as you start to set up your Health and Safety Management System:

 

1. Management endorsement.

If management has a low focus on health and safety, so too will everyone else. Start at the top – seriously. You can’t get out of this one if you want to make a safe workplace. What will you commit to and support? Think resourcing, think budget, think actions.

 

2. Planning. 

Ensure hazards arising from work activities are identified so that risks can be assessed and then controlled. This is critical. Get your people involved in this – use weekly meetings to ask about possible risks. Need help? Check this tool out. Just type in your industry and see exactly what hazards you need to look out for.

 

3. Implementation.

Develop a plan to improve things and allocate components of it out to your people. You need to ensure that what you say, is what you do. Everyone has a role to play! Meeting reminders from a software system like Safety Champion can do wonders to make sure everything gets done and everyone is involved!

 

Watch our health and safety 101 free course.

 

4. Measurement and evaluation. 

Track what you’ve done. Are you doing what you said you’d do in the beginning?

 

5. Review and improvement. 

Review to continually improve your Health and Safety Management System. Make sure you regularly look at your results and take preventative and/or corrective action to continually improve things. Aim to be better!

 

 

So, yes, you need a system but don’t get too bogged down.

 

Basically, your Health and Safety Management System is simply ‘what you actually do’ to manage foreseeable and unforeseeable hazards, to prevent incidents and injuries, and to minimise risks. Focus on how you will do all those health and safety tasks and how you will sustain the implementation of your system, and your off to a good start.

 

Even better, document it and communicate it well to all your people – often – for even better results. Good luck!

 

5 things we do to keep our team happiness level on a high!

We’re sure you know about it. There’s big things happening in the business world these days around stuff like ‘employee engagement’ and ‘workplace wellness.’ Whist you may currently leave this terminology to the big end of town, doing something with it in your business probably something that shouldn’t be ignored for much longer! And you know what, you may actually be doing it already… but calling it ‘how you do business.’

 

We are hand on heart safety nerds at Safety Champion, so engagement and wellness gets us excited. Why? What it really means is that Australian businesses are responding to the call to look after their people holistically. After all, we are people – we are not machines!

 

We, of course, practice what we preach in terms of health and safety in the workplace… and we know this also means looking after our team’s mental health too. So, what do we do at Safety Champion to keep our people happy?

 

  1. Plan: Weekly stand-up meetings allow for expectations on weekly deliverables to be carefully considered and clearly allocated. Sounds simple but it is something that has taken a bit of work to master!
  2. Support: Flexible working hours and locations are important to our team. We are objectives focused, not ‘time on seat’ focused!
  3. Disrupt: Monthly lunches in the park or pizzas in the boardroom lets us chew the fat and talk shop in a more relaxed environment.
  4. Move: Regular walks at lunch or ‘walking and talking’ meetings help us fresh air and works wonders for our ideas!
  5. Socialize: Regular Friday night hang-outs and quarterly social events help us get to know each other better. We aim to know more than the face and to build real connections!

 

If you’re already doing one or more of these – gold stars to you! That said, if you are still not convinced or still wondering why you should care about the wellbeing of your people at that level… Well, you really can’t argue with benefits like:

 

  • Lower staff turnover = cost savings. Finding and then upskilling the new team member with the requisite knowledge to succeed is time and resource consuming!
  • Happier staff = increased productivity. If your staff look forward to work, and love their workplace – that is productivity right there.
  • Mentally healthier people = less chance of serious claims against you. Whilst we don’t want to see someone we care about going through the trauma associated with the claim. As a business, a workers compensation will drain resources in administration of the claim, and finances associated with increased premiums.

 

So there you have it. Have a think about how you could bring some of these initiatives onboard at your workplace today. These ideas are by no means ‘the be all and end all’, however they are some cost-free and simple starters to get you going.

 

A perfect solution fit for SMEs…

We’re guessing that you already know you have to do something about health and safety in your business but you are probably thinking “When on earth do I have the time?” Yes, it’s complex and, yes, it’s hard to know where to start, but the fact is you gotta start somewhere.

 

Why? Well, actually small to medium sized Australian businesses are often exposed when it comes to health and safety. As you probably know, we justify our ignorance of health and safety by saying there’s not enough time to make it a focus because there’s always another area of the business that is a higher priority. That is, until one of our workers injures themselves; then we blame the regulator for making it all so complicated!

 

We have heard you!

 

This is exactly why we created Safety Champion. Our point of difference? Safety Champion has been designed by highly experienced health and safety professionals that work with SMEs every day. This means that Safety Champion efficiently responds to the real needs of businesses, as we have witnessed all those barriers and pain points.

 

“We didn’t develop Safety Champion because we wanted to develop software. We did it because we couldn’t find a simple and affordable software solution that would assist small and medium sized businesses promote health and safety, and also support them to comply with the legislation and regulators to keep their people safe.”

-Craig Salter, Founder

 

We don’t just dump our software on our clients and leave you to figure out the health and safety part. We supply a holistic solution that supports you from a number of angles. Yes, the user-friendly software is part of it. But we also offer:

  • a Safety Manual that can be contextualized to align with your business,
  • over 100 useful templates and 100 workflows aligned with Australian Standards, and
  • access to health and safety consultants to assist you with the practical implementation of your health and safety management system, if you need it.

 

Our consultants are on the ground every day. They have worked with over 500 Australian SMEs. They know your frustration, they’ve seen the issues you’ve had with other software systems and they can help.

 

And for our techy friends out there – here’s something cool. Safety Champion has been built using a system architecture framework that sets it apart. This architecture – a micro/macro services approach – allows for the fast and low-cost flexibility that SMEs need – something that other, older technology on the market just doesn’t offer. It’s your commercial-off-the-shelf enterprise solution.

 

So, why is Safety Champion the perfect solution? Easy.

 

In short, we know safety and we know software.

 

 

Do I have RSI?

Recently, one of clients was asking our advice about “RSI”. A number of their employees have raised issues over the past few years about pain in their wrists, arms and necks, most suggesting it was due to extensive computer use. Our client was worried about the ongoing issues related to this – both from a productivity point of view but also because they wanted to look out for their people. So, they asked us what they could do about it.

 

We should start by saying this is a very common question for us. Probably because ‘Repetition Strain Injury’ (RSI) or ‘Occupational Overuse Syndrome’ (OOS) as it is known to us in the health and safety biz, is very common. In fact, it has been found that upwards of 77% of workers across a variety of occupations reported having experienced mild to severe RSI (Australian Government, Comcare, 1997). With an increased reliance on computers, tablets and smartphones – it is safe to assume that this may have increased in more recent years?!

 

So, what is it? RSI is a term that covers many different kinds of discomfort or pain in the muscles and tendons caused by repetitive or forced movements, or sustained or constrained postures. Examples of RSI you may have heard of are things like Tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Writer’s Cramp.

 

Though there are so many different renditions of RSI, there are some things that you can do to decrease the likelihood of your people suffering from it in any form it comes in. SafeWork Australia have some, quite lengthy, guidance notes specifically created for computer users. But we thought we’d break it down for you a bit.

 

So, three major things to think about:

 

  1. Your work systems – Think about how you can reduce the amount of repetitive or prolonged work that is required within the daily work life of your people. Can you encourage more frequent work breaks or more task variation? Are you making sure you allow appropriate time for your people to get used to new technology or processes, or are you demanding the same speed? Talk to you people and gauge how they feel.

 

  1. The workplace itself – Think about creating the most well-designed workplace you can. Are your workstations suitable for all the shapes and sizes of your people? Is the workplace environment appropriate? And do your people have access to the equipment they need to perform their tasks as best they can, with minimal risk? Implementing some positive changes to account for these things will increase comfort, improve efficiency and minimise the risk of RSI claims.

 

  1. Training and education – Think about offering some information sessions or talking openly to your people about RSI. Do your people know anything about RSI? Do they know what they can change in their personal working style to avoid it? Training your people can be great strategy to prevent instances of RSI. And this way everyone can play a part in prevention.

 

As an employer or manager, you have a duty to protect the health and safety of your people whilst they are at work. So, RSI is an important thing for you to consider – especially given its prevalence! So, may take a few hours this week to consider the above 3 points, talk to your people and get their opinion… and of course if you are still stuck – call in the experts (like us)!

 

 

Try doing just one thing first…

We write a lot about how to set and achieve your health and safety goals and targets on this blog. But we know that for many small businesses all of that can be a little overwhelming when you are first starting to get your health and safety practices in place. So, here’s a different way of looking at it.

 

Start out with just one thing first.

 

Really, health and safety is simpler than you think. It’s all about identifying potential hazards and risks and then addressing those hazards and risks so that you keep your people healthy and safe while they are at work.

 

But while a major barrier against businesses actually doing this is “Where do I start?” there are a stack of great tools out there to help. We think one of the best ones is WorkSafe’s Injury Hotspots site. Simply type in your industry and this site will tell you all the major injuries and hazards associated with your industry.

 

Then print the poster, and stick it somewhere where you can see it. This is an easy way to keeping health and safety top of mind, and a visual way to show your workers your organisations focus on safe work behaviours. Of course, you can’t address everything today… so highlight the controls that you would like to implement, but start with one.

 

Start with the biggest risk to the health and safety of your people, you know, the one that keeps you up at night, the one that happens daily or the one where if it did occur, someone would be injured badly.

 

Starting with the highest risk is already an awesome start – this will have the greatest impact possible for your people and your business. So feel good about it. Celebrate it. Seek input from your workers how the hazard can be managed. Then over time you can work your way down that list. Gradually your business and your people will become safer, healthier and ultimately happier.

 

You gotta start somewhere, right?

 

 

Five benefits of going paperless with your health and safety practices!

  1. Access your files anywhere, anytime

You wouldn’t be the first business in the world to struggle with keeping your OHS or WHS files in any order, let alone perfect order. Taming your documents is a hassle…even for us health and safety professionals in our own workplace! However, implementing a cloud-based software system has helped us solve that. Not only can you see and download the documents, registers or records you need, when you need it – but all of your files, even if you are working across multiple workplace locations will be in one place, yep, up there in the sky. Shifting to a paperless way of working definitively makes accessing data easy, making reporting and decisions based on your data and trends so much easier!

 

  1. Demonstrate your compliance

Our clients always talk about how good it is to be able to “prove” their compliance regarding health and safety legislation – simply and effectively. This is not only good for dealing with the health and safety inspector, but also to prospective clients and building confidence with staff members. Nowadays it is vital to be able to demonstrate your businesses professionalism and commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of your people – software is a very effective and highly visible way to demonstrate this commitment!

 

 Watch our health and safety 101 webinar series

 

  1. Make things easier for your people

You’ve probably seen and read all the talk these days about ‘employee engagement’ and ‘employee wellbeing’. There’s a clear trend that people really scrutinize businesses before they jump on board, to make sure it’s the kind of place they want to work. And what is the kind of place where people want to work? Well, an efficient workplace with easy, streamlined processes that actually make their day-to-day work easier! They expect businesses that embrace technology and know that the ones that do have built these efficiencies. So, help them out – toss away the paper and use OHS software!

 

  1. Look after your bottom line

It’s not just the cost of paper, ink and machine maintenance you are saving by going paperless. But think about the cost of time. If you have people running around trying to find lost paperwork, put messy files in order, chase up staff by phone or email to submit their reports… this is money, I repeat this is money! Read more about the cost to your business here. So, take some relief, know that if you put the right OHS software in place you will reduce administration and resourcing, as the OHS software will send automated emails to remind people to complete health and safety tasks and automatically save all that data in the appropriate registers ready for you to use, when you want it! Time is money. This software saves time. Do the math.

 

  1. Make your workplace safer!

Ok so this is the best benefit yet. Shifting to an easy-to-use, cloud-based software means that implementing your health and safety practices in the workplace will actually happen! And what this means, is that your people will become safer and healthier and happier for it. And, after all, that’s what health and safety is all about… looking after your people.

 

Word of warning! This being said, not all software systems are made the same – so keep your eyes open. Before you start to look, clearly define what you need. Don’t be caught out by the cheeky salesperson and/or cheapest product. If you go don’t that path, you may be kissing efficiency and simplicity goodbye.

A lack of sleep – is it making your business drowsy?

The effect of a 24/7 society is a worry when it comes to sleep duration and quality, or the trend to a lack of! The 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults highlighted that sleep problems are becoming more common. Sure, the report is one from 2016, but our take on that is that it simply means that you have had more time to do something!

 

Unsurprisingly, a lack of sleep was found to impact worker performance, with 29% of adults in the study reporting they have made errors at work due to sleepiness or sleep problems.

 

With 29% of persons reporting that they drive whilst drowsy, it is no surprise to workplaces that 1 in 5 people reported that they have nodded off when driving, whilst 1 in 4 of these people reporting to have had an accident in the past 12 months due to fatigue!

 

Don’t think for a second that no drivers, no issues! Fatigue was found to influence absenteeism figures, with 17% reporting to have missed work due to feeling sleepy. That will sure impact your bottom line!

 

These stats are alarming for any business when it comes to ensuring not only a productive workforce, but one that can go home safely at the end of each day.

So, what can be done? Given dedicated siesta times are probably not practical, here are some other considerations for you:

  1. Have managers and supervisors regularly check-in with their teams to ensure they are on track to deliver. If they are struggling, this may allow you to make adjustments to resources.
  2. Establish procedures where emails sent before 8 am and after 6 pm are discouraged. If there are workers working outside of these times, encourage them to delay the delivery of work emails until the next day – if you wouldn’t phone to tell the news, then you shouldn’t email!
  3. Encourage your leaders to leave loudly and on time. Let you workforce know this is ok.
  4. Be flexible and aware that family situations and/or travel (i.e. changes to public transport); both of these can result in early starts and/or late finishes. In fact, we previously wrote a blog about working dads, and methods that you can use to support their return to the workplace.
  5. As always, you may consider undertaking a toolbox talk and/or training (as part of a wellbeing campaign) on sleep. Provide your workers to understand the physiological importance.
  6. Consideration sleep disorder screening for higher risk work workers such as those in transport, shift work and heavy machinery operators…

 

This is by no means everything. We would love to hear any other tips/tricks/programs you have used.

 

Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite!

Top tips for getting your people behind health and safety…

Our clients often tell us that in the past they have paid quite big money to have fancy OHS policies and practices created for their business. But they’ve also told us that after they’ve forked out the cash, absolutely nothing has changed on the health and safety front. Frustratingly they tell us, their people still don’t understand what they need to do and when, and that there are hazards everywhere you look and things that they feel are preventable continue to go wrong.

 

So, what’s happening here? Well the truth is that those OHS policies and practices don’t implement themselves.

 

You may have the OHS paperwork in place, but it doesn’t make the people in your workplace any safer if no one is implementing it all.

So, here are our top tips to get your people on board with health and safety;

 

  1. Put health and safety on the agenda!

It can be as simple as that – add health and safety line items to your next all staff or team meeting to keep everyone aware of what you are doing to make your workplace safer. Don’t create a separate meeting, stack it on to something existing so your workers don’t feel they have another meeting to attend. Ask people for their input (and then listen) – what needs to be addressed, does everyone know who the fire warden is, etc.

 

  1. Make health and safety responsibilities part of your employees position description

When you are writing your position descriptions, or performance reviewing staff – try adding relevant health and safety line items to their role. Nothing complicated – it will however ensure that your people know they have a role to play in safety is key to getting it all to work.

 

  1. Create OHS / WHS-specific KPIs

We love this one! If you really want your health and safety standards to sing, integrate it into your business strategy. Apply health and safety specific KPIs to your team or staff member responsibilities. Nothing gets people to do something, like having clear targets that must be achieved by a specific deadline! We would love to workshop KPI ideas with you!

 

  1. Implement a safety software system

Some may view this as cheeky, but it is totally true! If you implement an easy-to-use OHS software system that comes equipped with auto reminders, document control, easy reporting and a simple dashboard, your staff will thank you for it. It makes it easier for them – and therefore they are much more likely to do it! Safety Champion for example is a small investment, say less than a coffee a day, for a lotta gain.

 

 

So, that’s it from us – give one or more of these things a shot. Consider Tip 4 over that coffee tomorrow! They really will start to do wonders and help you to make your people safer, healthier and happier at work!

Are you ensuring your workers are hydrated?

The arrival of the summer months, means the festive period quickly follows and consumes us all. This period also leads to a lot of people indulging in multiple alcoholic beverages and little amounts of water. When your workers return to work are you doing what you can to provide them with plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration?

 

Dehydration is what happens when you use or lose more fluid then you can take in and your body is unable to function effectively. This can occur after strenuous exercise, sickness, drinking too much alcohol, taking certain medicine such as diuretics, as a complication of diabetes or if enough water has not been consumed.

 

Some signs of dehydration can be a heightened thirst, dry mouth, lips and tongue, a headache, dark urine, dizziness or light-headedness, particularly when standing up.

 

If your workers are involved in more strenuous activities and/or are working outside in the extreme temperatures, then you need to be aware of what dehydration looks like, but also all ways to prevent dehydration from occurring in the first place!

 

So, some ideas;

 

IDEA 1

Providing a urine chart such as the one below for your workers can help them keep track of their hydration throughout the day and know how much more water they require if they are dehydrated. A chart like this easily be positioned in bathrooms or on noticeboards – if you would like us to send you one of our posters, contact us.

 

 

IDEA 2

Provide your workers with access to fluids – this may be via a water cooler, bottled water or pre-made hydration solutions. Don’t forget to provide them with a facility to keep their drinks cool, such as a fridge or ice if they are working outdoors. If you have workers working remote and pre-made solutions are not available or have run out within the business, another option is to place 6 teaspoons of sugar with half a teaspoon of salt in one litre of boiled water.

 

 

IDEA 3

Try reducing exposure to the heat. This means you can reduce sweating, which means, yes, you are also managing hydration. To do this, try adjusting the hours of work so that physically demanding work is completed at the cooler times of the day. Or provide access to shade – if work is being completed outside – or fans – if inside.

 

 

Learn more about the impact of heat stress or about what kind of SPF rating you should be considering for your workers through more of our blog articles.

3 things that Safety Champion Software has that the others don’t…

If you are on the market for software to help you to keep your people safe and healthy at work, you’re probably finding there are quite a few systems out there to choose from. And while there will be one that suits your business, we just thought we’d throw out three things that our clients love about Safety Champion – just to see if it might influence your decision! Cheeky? Yes, a little 😉

 

1. It comes with a ready-to-go Safety Manual

This really is awesome. It is something that could cost a small business anywhere upwards of $5K if you were to engage a consultant to create one for you. This alone makes the system worthwhile! It allows you to be up and running with strong health and safety procedures as soon as you sign up. Whilst procedures aren’t everything, they do provide clear direction on how you can protect your workers from harm and injury. And, you know what else, they can be great for business development too. Well-documented health and safety procedures can lift the credibility of your business, it will also allow you apply and win tenders, which you previously could not attempt – because you didn’t have the documents you needed.

 

2. It has been designed by health and safety professionals who know what they are doing

Unlike other software, Safety Champion has been designed by safety professionals, in collaboration with our awesome developers, to ensure it does everything you need it to, and nothing that it doesn’t. We’ve seen many systems, and many of these have been designed by people who are either unfamiliar with safety, or people who have worked in safety within large organisations. And you know what? If they are not built for the SME audience, they can be cumbersome and confusing for non-safety people, and therefore more time consuming. While they might do a lot of ‘stuff’, often it’s not the stuff you need to comply with health and safety laws. Often these systems suit big businesses that have safety teams and lots of resources. We know what you need, and we’ve made it for you.

 

3. It is incredibly easy to use – for all users

Look, all the others will say they have this, but try us, ours is possibly the simplest interface out there. As safety people we have heard the frustrations of clients when using the existing software they have in place. So, we’ve carefully built Safety Champion to be as simple as possible. Why is this important? Because we know that safety is not always managed by someone with a safety background, and our goal has always been to keep people in Australian businesses safe and healthy. So yeah, we created a simple system that everyone can use – quickly and easily.

 

Really a lot of what it comes down to is the fact that we understand your challenges. We know how safety works, we know how people work, and we know how great software works. So, what we’ve created is a solution that takes all of this into account. After all, OHS or WHS is actually just about people. So, we’re here to help you keep your people safe and healthy.

 

There you have it. That’s our plug done. So, if you are interesting in having a free trial to our system or just chatting more, please contact us today!

 

Are your workers often working off-site?

Many employers don’t realise this. But if your workers are travelling to other locations to perform work for your business, you are actually legally obliged to ensure that they are working within a safe and healthy environment – you can’t assume everything will be ok. This is the same obligation that you have for workers within you usual workplace.

 

Interestingly, this covers a number of work situations, including when your workers work from home, or when you send one of your workers to work at another workplace for one day, or, on a regular basis for a set period of time, say six months. In each scenario, your obligation is the same – as an employer you must ensure that you have, so far as reasonably practicable, ensured of the health and safety of your people.

 

So how can you do this, given this other workplace or space is not actually yours to manage or control? Here’s some ideas from us:

 

  1. Before your worker heads out, think about the company they are working with. Are they reputable? Does this organisation have OHS or WHS procedures in place?
  2. What are the work condition like at the company they will be working? If you don’t know the conditions, can you organise a site inspection prior? Obviously, if you do inspect and there is something identified as unsafe, can you make sure that they do something about this before your worker begins their work there?
  3. What work will your people will be doing? Think about the hazards associated with the work. Is there any equipment that you can provide to help your workers to manage the hazards they will be exposed to? For example, if they are likely to do computer based work, if they will be working off laptops, can you provide a portable laptop stand and external keyboard and mouse?
  4. Check to see if the workplace provides inductions and briefings? If not, will they be accompanied when onsite? Make sure your workers have the ability to access information regarding the workplace when they are onsite.
  5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure your workers understand that it is ok for them to ask questions about safety! Ensure that your worker is aware that they have the right to also let you know if they are concerned about their health and safety at this workplace. Explicitly brief your workers on this before they head out and keep in regular contact with your workers for the duration of their time working away from your usual workplace.

Now we understand that doing all of this when your people are working from home or headed out for a meeting may seem like a lot to do, so be pragmatic. Is it one off, or regular? Whichever way you go, it is still worth ensuring that Point 5 is well understood. Encourage your workers to ask questions and be curious. A conversation will sure everyone is on the same page!

 

Do you have a specific situation that doesn’t seem so clear cut on what you should do? You are not alone – it can be pretty complex! Why not get in contact with us to see how we can help you iron out the details specific to your circumstance. A five minute call is free, and may save you from overcomplicating the situation.

So, you want to do something to encourage better mental health in your workplace?

Recently, The Black Dog Institute published an article about a study that showed strong evidence that training managers within workplaces about mental health can have a positive effect on improving occupational wellbeing for employees. But not only that, the study also indicated positive financial outcomes for businesses too! Great! No excuse now…

 

“Having a supportive manager can make a huge difference to a person’s mental wellbeing and giving basic mental health training to managers can bring significant changes to both confidence and behaviour among staff.”

Associate Professor Samuel Harvey

Workplace Mental Health Research Program, The Black Dog Institute

 

So, if you’ve started to wonder “how can I actually start to do something about supporting a mentally healthy workplace?” here’s some more info for you. We are lucky in Australia because we’ve got quite a few amazing organisations and institutions out there with loads of free information and tools to help you out.

 

The key one to point you to is the Heads Up Initiative. This has been developed by the ‘Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance’ – an Australian Government initiative – and beyondblue to get both business leaders and everyone for that matter to play their part in building mentally healthier working environments.

 

So, check out the Heads Up website for a stack of free resources, information, FAQs, and avenues to get further training or learn more. And find more resources from R U OK who have a heap of free every day resources along with campaign materials than can help you to initiate that first conversation in the office.

 

And, if you are after more information about creating a healthier and safer workplace for your people, check out the work of all of those organsiations that make up the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. Many of which have more information, tools and resources to help you out; like The Black Dog Institute, Mental Health Australia, Safe Work Australia and SANE.

 

 

And let’s not forget that managing everything to do with supporting happier, healthier and safer workplaces is well, just, easier with Safety Champion Software – helping you to keep it all ticking along and under control! Have a free trial today!

 

What on earth is ‘presenteeism’?

Certainly, when managing business, we take into account the impact of paid staff leave from both a financial and productivity point of view. We know the cost to the bottom line, how to manage the workload as our workers take their owed annual leave, how to pick up the slack quickly if someone is unexpectedly off sick, and we have the tools in place to properly track and monitor leave days. But have you thought about the impact of presenteeism? And, more, how to best manage it when it starts to happen?

 

While researching this blog, we actually found a lot of evidence (data mainly from USA) to suggest that presenteeism can have a larger impact on the operational and financial health of a business in comparison to sick leave – which is largely already taken in consideration by most businesses. Ok, so what are these two?

 

Absenteeism is when your workers are not actually in the workplace due to illness, planned leave, family emergencies, or other unplanned events like jury duty. It can become an issue to a business when the number of absent days exceeds what a business has allowed for as reasonable.

 

Presenteeism is when your workers still come to the workplace – only they are not actually working but are rather there in ‘presence’ only. In this case, workers could be ill, lacking motivation, overworked, etc.

 

So, what can you do about presenteeism to avoid this huge and, well, unaccounted for, impact to your business? Here are a few of suggestions – and no surprise – they are all related to ensuring you support the maintenance of a safe, happy and healthy workplace!

 

  1. Encourage your workers to maintain their health!

Suggest flu shots in winter, promote good hand hygiene (put some posters up in those bathrooms), send your workers home when they are showing signs of cold or flu, get a fruit box and support healthy eating, etc. Essentially, the healthier your staff, the better for everyone!

 

  1. Check in with your workers about their workload often.

Don’t expect your staff to always come forward when they are overworked and stressed. Also, don’t expect them to come forward if they feel underworked or believe they have more capacity. Try to actively start that conversation and encourage your managers and team leads to do the same. Motivate your workers. Help them to understand what the right balance is. After all, it is useless to overload a worker when this will actually have the opposite effect, demotivating them to do anything at all.

 

  1. Look out for the signs of poor mental or physical health.

This is tricky, but presenteeism can be common for people with health issues that are not overly visible to an employer, such as depression, anxiety or chronic pain issues and disease. So, this is about maintaining good and open communication with your workers, and trying to determine a way that will better support your staff if these kinds of health issues are present. Things like allowing your workers to work from home might assist or guiding them towards getting proper help.

 

So, there are just a few ideas from us. But really, the best way to manage presenteeism, and absenteeism for that matter, is good communication with your workers and maintaining a happy, healthy and safe workplace for all.

 

A quick overview of health and safety penalty notices…

So, an Inspector might have recently paid a visit to your workplace and left you with some kind of ‘report’. Now, it’s likely that this report will be an Entry Report, Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice. But many businesses are often unsure about what these actually mean and what they need to do next. So, here’s some brief advice to start you off.

 

First of all, the Entry Report simply is a record of the visit. It advises that an inspector has been onsite, and advises the purpose of their visit.

 

Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices are different. These notices are issued when an Inspector identifies that there’s been a level of non-compliance with the health and safety laws. Note that these notices are not issued on a whim, or because the inspector simply thinks that your workplace could improve in some areas. They are serious. And, as such, they should be taken seriously because it is an offence not to comply with these.

 

Though the notices may vary slightly state to state, here’s a run down of these two types of notices and what they mean;

 

Improvement notices

These notices are issued when an Inspector believes that there is a safety issue that needs to be fixed within your workplace. These notices usually don’t prevent you from continuing business, as the issue is generally required to be resolved within a prescribed timeframe provided by the inspector. The inspector will generally revisit your site to ensure the required improvements have been made.

 

Prohibition notices

These ones are very serious. An Inspector will issue these if they believe there is a risk to your workers from‘an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard’ within the workplace. When these notices are issued you will need to stop all activity related to that hazard immediately until it is correctly managed. In some instances you may need to change the way you work moving forward as part of that management.

 

If you do receive one of these notices, do make sure that you fully understand what the notice has been issued for. If not, seek to clarify this with the Inspector, with legal counsel or with your regulator. If you don’t believe there is a breach, there is often an opportunity to place the notice under an internal review. However, be aware, there are often timeframes for such lodgment – so act fast. Once you understand the notice, make sure you plan to ensure that you have enough time to sufficiently correct the matter.

 

 

Now it goes without saying that there are always ways you can improve health and safety management in your workplace. So, if you are looking for solutions so that you can avoid receiving notices like the ones mentioned above again, check out how Safety Champion software can make things that much easier!

Workplace stress can be next to invisible… watch these videos

This health and safety month has placed a massive focus on building greater awareness of mental health in the workplace and developing more effective strategies to mitigate and manage these risks.

 

And to follow suit, many businesses – large and small – are now far more aware of what they need to look out for to protect their workers from unnecessary mental health concerns including stress, anxiety and depression. We think this is great!

 

A big part of this shift in thinking is the emergence of initiatives like beyondblue’s Heads Up which aims to assist Australian businesses with working towards becoming mentally happier and healthier places to be.

 

And recently Heads Up released a few really powerful short videos that help to shed light on the ‘invisible’ nature of workplace stress. It is, after all, something that isn’t overtly obvious to others in the workplace and at home, requiring us all to take the time to think about it and look out for it.

 

So if you are a bit of a fan of watching short, powerful and beautifully produced videos, check these out;

 

Watch The Eye

Watch The Pulse

Watch The Clench

 

Mental health is well and truly within the realm of what we are talking about when we encourage all businesses to protect the health and safety of their workers.

 

So, why not share these videos today with your staff, access great tools and more on the Heads Up website, or read more from us about how to prevent stress from escalating in the workplace.

 

There’s no excuse to not know about safety

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.

 

What on earth does that mean, you ask? Well, this is the legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because they were unaware of its content.

 

So, this is the interesting thing about occupational health and safety. From a legal perspective, business owners and senior managers really do need to know about safety and that there’s really no excuse not to know.

 

What we know from experience working with countless businesses is that if safety is not your area of expertise, the whole concept often seems an incredible hassle. It’s so hard to figure out what to do about health and safety – especially for many small and medium sized businesses where you don’t have the luxury of hiring a specific person to fulfill this role.

 

But the fact remains that if you are a senior manager within any business, you really do need to know what your role is – in other words you must make sure that the people in your workplace are safe and healthy, and that the operations of your workplace do not impact the health and safety of people.

 

 

One case that is well known amongst safety professionals is one involving Owens Group. The CEO – who was based in New Zealand – oversaw 30 companies including Owens Container Services. Following an incident in Australia, the CEO was prosecuted for not appropriately managing workplace hazards that resulted in a fatality. His claim that he was working remotely, and that he had a team to manage safety meaning that he was not able to ‘influence the conduct of the business’ was simply not suitable. The CEO was found guilty. Read more about the case here.

 

From this example, it can clearly be seen that simply because a senior manager doesn’t have a hands-on role in operations does not mean they are absolved of the health and safety obligations. Senior management have the authority to seek the implementation of health and safety policies, and therefore should do so.

 

So, if anything unfortunate was to go wrong in your workplace, in the eyes of the law, you must be found to have taken all reasonable steps to best manage and mitigate the health and safety risks on behalf of your workers. The legislation has been in place for years, and supporting information every business owner needs to know is readily available. So, this means that the excuse of “I didn’t realise” doesn’t quite cut it. You’ll discover quite quickly that you ought to have known.

 

To help you out, here are three easy ways to learn more about your health and safety responsibilities, right now:

 

  1. Visit the Safe Work Australia website – it has a simple layout, search fields to help you find what you are looking for, and all the information you could possibly need is available there.
  2. Contact your state regulator. If you are not sure who this is follow this link. Visit their websites or call to find out more. Some of them even have industry-specific advice to give straight off the bat.
  3. Engage a consulting firm. Sometimes there can be a lot of jargon and complexity around what you need to do. So, cut straight to it and bring some professionals on board to guide you.

 

And like we always say – it’s not all doom and gloom! Safety doesn’t have to be hard to manage! Read up on our 3 C’s of effective health and safety management or our 5 easy things every workplace can do to manage foreseeable safety hazards blogs to make some quick and easy changes right now! Most importantly, try to ‘stack’ safety habits into already existing practices. For tips on how to do this, read our blog Try ‘stacking’ your habits… to prevent safety from falling over.

 

 

Otherwise, contact us to learn more about how Safety Champion can help. Safety Champion isn’t just software to manage an already established safety plan (like all of the others). Safety Champion gives you all the tools, manuals and professional health and safety advice you need, to suit the specific needs of your business.

 

One way to improve overall wellbeing in your business today

There is no question about it – looking after the health and wellbeing of both you and your people is quite simply good for business. You’ve likely heard all about the trendy, multinational businesses like Google, HSBC, and Facebook promoting their employee wellbeing initiatives to making sure their people are supported to keep a positive work-life balance. But, what can us smaller guys – without the budgets and time to get awesome initiatives off the ground – really do to keep our staff happy and healthy?

 

Well, we would argue that the first place you should start is, perhaps, with yourself. Sounds harsh but a recent article on ABC News pointed out that many Australian SME owners may be putting health and wellbeing on the backburner and are commonly experiencing fatigue, stress and loss of motivation because of their work. Not an ideal situation.

 

Now think about the expression ‘leading by example’. It’s not really a stretch to think that in some cases, the poor experiences of business owners may be negatively influencing their workers as well. For example, if the boss is working long hours, it’s possible they are building a culture of long work hours across the board. And if the boss has low morale and is frustrated, then their people may feel equally as low.

 

So if you want to build positive health and wellbeing into your business, then what we suggest you do first is look after yourself. Look at the way you act in the office. Walk the talk. Eat well. Be mindful. Talk nicely. Work appropriate hours. Understand that what you feel on a daily basis is likely to be reflected onto your teams. Stop and think about how you might be perceived by your workers. And if you notice some bad habits that don’t do you any favours, consider changing them so you can set the example for a happy and healthy in the workplace.

 

After all, investing in people, including you, is simply good for business.

Why use the 70:20:10 model…

Differences in learning styles, attention spans and the way that we generally consume information these days, means that the way we train must evolve to keep it relevant and suit changing needs.That’s why when we stumbled across the old 70:20:10 learning model in our research, we thought it was worth a blog.

 

Whilst this model has been around for a little while, we feel that it is still incredibly valid! Especially for those people responsible for training staff in health and safety. Understanding the 70:20:10 model might actually help you ensure that your training and onboarding is relevant, whilst also assisting your managers and supervisors to build better rapport with their team members. And all of this leads to your people actually engaging with your health and safety training, rather than your health and safety training just serving as a ‘tick the box’ exercise.

 

The idea is this;

70% of everything you learn comes from your own personal on-the-job or general life experiences

20% of everything you learn comes from your interaction with others – feedback or observations

10% of everything you learn comes from formal training and courses

 

As you can see, this model indicates that while formal training sessions and course work is certainly a part of our learning, it is only a very small part of the larger piece. As health and safety professionals, this is particularly interesting – because we see businesses still placing considerable emphasis on getting their people into a room and training them in operational activities – so those boxes are ticked – rather than buddying them up with more experienced operators, or identifying innovative ways that they can build capability of their people in the field.

 

Don’t get us wrong, we believe formal health and safety training sessions are hugely important. However, we shouldn’t be stopping there when it comes to making sure our workers are fully briefed, ready to properly handle hazards and mitigate risks to ensure that they keep themselves and others safe in the workplace.

 

So, to get your workers to more thoroughly understand and adopt relevant health and safety skills and knowledge, try facilitating better on-the-job learning opportunities for ‘peer learning’. A couple of ideas could be;

 

  • Hold quick daily or weekly meetings to reflect on recent work to find any risks or hazards so you can learn from them.
  • Encourage older staff to take an active role in training the younger ones, even if they don’t think it’s their job.
  • Remind the younger and new staff to constantly seek advice and guidance from the others before proceeding with anything.
  • Encourage older and more experienced staff to share relevant health and safety stories and experiences they’ve had in yours and other workplaces.
  • See if you can build on the social aspects in your workplace. Allow workers to implicitly learn through informal and unstructured conversations.

 

Clearly there are many things you can do – but it’s all about communication, observation and experience. So, try encouraging or facilitating more opportunities for people to learn in a variety of ways, and you’ll see vast improvements in the uptake of your health and safety practices and procedures!

The 3 C’s of effective health and safety management…

As health and safety professionals, we are often met with common frustrations from our clients.

 

People simply find safety confusing and complicated. They don’t want to decode the safety legislation. They just want to know what to do and what not to do so that they comply with the rules and protect their staff from injury and harm. They want peace of mind.

 

So, as a team – and over Friday pizza – we were chatting about how we can support businesses address this frustration. Bloated, we came up with a neat and concise set of 3 Cs – what we like to call The 3 C’s of Effective Health and Safety Management.

 

 

 

 

Even if you’re a novice and have never previously implemented a health and safety procedure, you’ll find that if you follow these simple 3 C’s you will be well on your way to success:

 

1. Communication

Unquestionably the key to making safety work in the workplace is to keep talking about it with your team and within your teams.

 

While the legislation documentation is long and complex, it actually really only stresses one point – that you talk or ‘work together to continuously improve safety’.

 

For legal purposes, this can be as simple as starting to ask your colleagues and staff “How are you doing in your job today?” The answer to this question may be the key to finding those hazards in the workplace getting in the way of your staff being healthy, safe and productive.

 

 

2. Common sense

Actually, safety often isn’t as hard or complicated as many businesses think. It just seems that way sometimes.

 

But when it comes down to it, it’s just about you and your staff asking yourselves “Do I feel safe doing this?” or “Would I do this myself?” If the answer is ‘no’ then that’s a pretty good indication that you need to mitigate the risk around that hazard and put some safer practices in place.

 

And yes, we know that common sense is not always that common; but sometimes all it takes is the opportunity to bring common sense to mind. Try asking your workers on a weekly basis if they saw anything they didn’t feel too good about and go from there.

 

Sign up to our 100% forever free software today

 

3. Connection

And finally, we come to connection. It can be a good idea for all businesses – big or small – to connect with others from time to time.

 

This maybe your peers, the health and safety regulator or OHS consultants. Connect with others to get general advice, or connect with others simply to sense check that what you are doing is on the right track.

 

So try connecting with your regulator via their news feeds – see this list of the state regulators and their contact details. Or join one of the many free webinars and seminars on safety relevant to your industry.

 

And for Victorian small businesses – try WorkSafe Victoria’s OHS Essentials program for a free OHS health check!

 

 

 

So, there you have it – our 3 C’s of effective health and safety management. And we might even be a little cheeky and add a 4th one to the list – which is of course ‘the Champion’!

For a product tour to see how our software can help you implement you health and safety management system, contact us today!

 

 


To learn more simple approaches to health and safety, access our free 4-part safety 101 course filled with useful tips, tricks, and free resources to assist you with effective management of safety.

To see practical advice for getting safety moving in your organisation, check out our Keen to get safety sorted in 2019? blog.

 

A two-question quiz to help you find the right health and wellbeing app for you

We are hearing more and more about it these days. Issues of poor mental health and general wellbeing are on the rise in Australia, and in Australian workplaces. Actually, Beyond Blue report one in every five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year, and around 63% of Australian’s were considered overweight or obese in 2014-2015 according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. These are some shockingly big numbers.

 

If you are sitting on a train or you’re at work right now, look around you. With the prevalence of mental and physical health concerns being this high, it’s more than likely that many of the people you see right now could be dealing with related issues. And, of course, this could be affecting not only their personal life, but their professional career as well.

 

So, what to do? Well, we found that leading mental health wellbeing organisation ReachOut had a little tool to help you out. Just follow a simple two-question quiz on their website and you will be presented with all the perfect apps suitable to help you manage and improve your health and wellbeing.

 

As a business owner, manager, team leader, or even a colleague and a friend – what can you do to help others around you? It’s of course often a delicate issue and not one to call out publicly. But taking action to encourage better mental and physical health in your workplace is certainly part of your role in ensuring your workers experience a safe and healthy workplace every day. So, it’s more than relevant.

 

So why not share this great tool today and encourage your workers and colleagues to think about how they are and how they might improve their mental and physical wellbeing. It only takes a brief email to all staff or a quick mention in a team meeting the next time you are discussing wellbeing or health and safety in your workplace.

Free upcoming OHS seminar for small businesses | 22 August in Melbourne

It’s no secret – to you or us – that many small businesses are overwhelmed and confused by health and safety rules and regulations. Where to start… what do to… why it’s even important. But thankfully our friends at Action OHS Consulting are running a great free seminar to put this all into place for you and tell you everything you to know about OHS/WHS as a small business owner.

 

OHS for SMEs Seminar

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

10am to 11am

Donkey Wheel House

673 Bourke Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

 

As part of the Small Business Victoria Festival, this workplace health and safety seminar will be specifically catered to small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). It will provide business owners and managers with a simple overview of the legal and moral OHS responsibilities, and will cover how these can be effectively, and practically, managed within existing ‘business as usual’ activities.

 

With small business accounting for 96% of all Victorian businesses, there is clearly a need for small business owners to understand what the OHS legislation means for business. However, it’s important to note that OHS legislation can be incredibly complex to understand and to apply to a small business workplace setting. This seminar will remove block and help you understand just what you need to know without complicating things.

 

“Too many small businesses find health and safety hard, as they try to replicate what big businesses do. Instead, they should be focusing on what they can do – and what’s appropriate for their specific workplace.”

Craig Salter, Managing Director at Action OHS Consulting.

 

If you are interested in attending this workshop please register here. Excitingly, all participants will be given the opportunity to apply for a free safety review to help them kick start better health and safety management. And don’t forget to check out more of the sessions, workshops and talks that are on at the festival. It looks like a great line-up!

 

5 easy things every workplace can do to manage foreseeable safety hazards

It might seem extremely obvious, but maintaining a clean and clutter free workplace is one of the simplest things you can do to look out for the health and safety of your workers. Slips, trips and falls are more prevalent than you think, contributing to more than 23%[1] of workplace compensation claims in Australia.

 

“Almost every time I enter a workplace for a consultation, I can immediately see several hazards that could very easily be avoided. All it takes is a moment to stop and look around to see what they might be.”

– Ryan Baldwin, Junior OHS Consultant

 

So, what do you need to do? Well, see if you can easily sort some or all of these 5 things out:

 

  1. Clutter – Is there anything obviously messy and untidy? Perhaps piled up boxes of files by your desk or unnecessary items in walkways. Think about ways you can properly store important items that people need to access… otherwise move them into storage.
  2. Slippery Floors – Look for wet areas, then identify a way to keep it dry!

 

Potential Hazard Potential Solution
Excess water at the entry to your office on wet days At entrances, on wet days, consider umbrella bins or bags. If placing down mats, make sure that these don’t become a trip hazard!
Excess water in kitchen and bathroom areas due to spills Have a conversation with workers to understand the cause. It may be as simple as there is no drying rack or tea towel. Avoid just “hanging” signs like “Keep Dry” –before understanding the cause.
Leaks where chemicals are stored Store chemicals on trays or in containers, so any leaks are contained.

 

  1. Cables and cords – Ensure that your electrical cords are properly secured and covered to avoid trips and other electrical hazards. This can be done using tape and/or velco covers.
  2. Open Drawers – Empty out those draws so that you can close them! Filing cabinets that are overly full from the top, may actually tip over when opened, due to the weight of the contents.
  3. Hygiene – Again, it might seem obvious but colds and flus can spread easily in workplaces. So, make sure the hand soap is filled up in the bathrooms and kitchens or supply hand sanitizer to prevent these bugs from spreading. Make sure the office and computer equipment is kept clean.

 

That’s it for now. These might seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many issues you will avoid by managing the simple things.

 

Be aware though that this is not an extensive list. You really need to routinely take some time out to review your workplace and think about how you can better protect the health and safety of your workers. If this means writing a list of routine tasks that need to be completed – then make that list or, even better, think about establishing a safety management system!

 

 

By the way, if closing out the tasks from your ‘routine list of health and safety tasks’ becomes a problem, then perhaps a cloud-based solution like Safety Champion may be something for you to consider. Take a product tour today.

 

[1] Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics 2014–15 (revised July 2017)

Health and safety legislation – the basic explanation

With all the acronyms, authorities and legislation out there, health and safety legislation can be complicated for many businesses that don’t have dedicated specialist staff on board. It can be difficult to know exactly who to listen to and what to take note of for your business. So, we thought we’d give you a quick run down of health and safety in Australia so you know where to turn if you need to learn more.

 

In Australia, the requirement to legislate and regulate health and safety is a function of each individual state and territory. This means that it is state based law, not federal law such as the Fair Work Act 2009. So, the legislation you should be looking at for health and safety is dependant on your state. Here’s a nice clean list for you:

 

Because health and safety regulation is state-based, this is why the authorities have different names from state to state. It’s advisable that businesses are familiar with their relevant regulator and take their cues on health and safety from there. If you are confused about who your regulator is, here’s where you can find the current links to their websites from Action OHS Consulting.

 

Most of these guys have brilliant tools and information readily available to help you out – so head to their websites.

 

And what about Safe Work Australia? Who are they? Put simply, these guys are the national policy body responsible for researching and further developing health and safety strategies each state can adopt. Safe Work Australia is another excellent source of easily digestible information and advice for any business or employee needing to learn more.

 

And before we finish up, another common confusion point is about Worker Compensation. Be aware that Health and Safety Legislation is different to Workers Compensation Legislation. Health and Safety Legislation looks at establishing ways to prevent the accident and injury from occurring, while the Workers Compensation Legislation provides direction on how work related injuries should be managed.

 

So, if you need to learn more about health and safety in your business, familiarise yourself with the webpage of your relevant state based health and safety regulator. Again here’s that list. And then check out Safe Work Australia if you need to know more.

 

 

Still unsure or want to seek further clarification? Drop our team of health and safety professionals a line for more guidance and support specifically suited to your business needs.

 

What is the difference between all those health and safety acronyms anyway?

A lot of our new clients come to us and say a similar thing. “I just got confused with all those health and safety acronyms! OHS, OSH, WHS or even WOSH… they all look the same, but are they?”

 

Commonly, businesses just don’t know why there are so many letters in different combinations, and what they actually mean for their business.

 

“I just got confused with all those health and safety acronyms! OHS, OSH, WHS or even WOSH… they all look the same, but are they?”

 

The fact is that the reason they seem the same, is because… you guessed it, they are. The variation in terminology is generally a result from how the health and safety legislation is titled in each Australian state, or the body that regulates the implementation of that legislation.

 

 

The common safety acronyms explained

Here’s a few of the common ones you see around explained:

 

  • WHS: In all Australian stated (other than VIC and WA), you will see people referring to WHS – Workplace Health and Safety due to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 or Work Health and Safety Act 2012
  • OHS: In Victoria you will see people referring to OHS – Occupational Health and Safety due to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • OSH: In WA you will see people referring to OSH – Occupational Safety and Health due to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
  • HSW: In Great Britain and New Zealand you will see people referring to HSW [Health and Safety] due to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and 2015 respectively.
  • HSE: In Great Britain, you may also see people referring to safety as HSE – this is in reference to their regulator Health and Safety Executive.
  • OSHA: This referencing of the regulator also holds true in the USA. People referring to safety as OSHA aligning with the regulator: Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • EHS: This time, adding the E in there means “Environment”. This adds a layer of environmental considerations to workplace health and safety.

 

Free safety promotion poster set for your workplace. Download now.

 

Put simply, these safety acronyms mean exactly the same thing. They guide businesses to make a commitment to establish a workplace where a worker will leave work with the same physical and mental health that they presented to work with.

 

 

Onwards and upwards – getting safety moving

So if you use the terminology interchangeably, this really isn’t an issue. If you do get corrected by some smarty pants, point out that maybe they should be more concerned with the goal of keeping workers safe and healthy in the workplace, and less concerned about technicality and semantics.

 

 

These acronyms often just serve to make workplace health and safety seem even more complex that it already seems to people. So, we say, put the acronym aside for the moment, and just focus on what’s important.

 

And it’s this. All of this, all these acronyms, are simply about one thing: How can we make workplaces safer so that no one is hurt at work!

 

Sign up to our free safety management software today.

 


Alright that’s it from us – be sure to check out our other blogs for more useful information about safety. Try these ones next:

Health and safety legislation – the basic explanation

Why you should pay attention to prosecutions data

Try ‘stacking’ your habits… to prevent safety from falling over.

At the Safety Champion HQ we were recently discussing a blog we came across in Fast Company. The author was writing about how to build habits. More specifically, how to build habits that yield positive outcomes by integrated them into our lives in super simple and effective ways. While everyone has goals in life and ideas of things they want to achieve, we so rarely stick to the tasks required to get us there. In other words, we lack the staying power.

 

This got us thinking about our clients when they are starting to build a culture of health and safety in the workplace. The business owners and people managers we work with keep telling us that maintaining the momentum to meet health and safety targets and objectives can be difficult. With this in mind – and following some rather opinionated conversations here at HQ – we think that some of the ideas in this blog about building positive habits could be applied to assist businesses to build a strong safety culture.

 

One of the key ideas that came up was the concept of ‘stacking habits’. Say for example, you already routinely do something in the workplace and maybe you even do this without questioning it. Well, that’s perfect. It’s now just a matter of adding another habit or task to the one you already do as a way to make sure it happens. This way you start to automatically do one when you do the other. Brilliant.

 

For example, your team may meet every Monday morning for a ‘work in progress’ or ‘operations’ meeting – why not add the topic of health and safety to the agenda? Or your administration staff may be responsible for following up managers to provide their budgetary or KPI reporting quarterly – why not add the question of the health and safety targets progress to that follow up? Or perhaps your staff complete timesheets every week – why not add the completion of a safety checklist or register to the timeslot?

 

“Stacking habits is one highly successful mechanism that we find many SMEs are starting to take up. It’s a really smart and simple way to build safety into business as usual activities.” – Elaine McGuigan, OHS Consultant.

 

There are many ways that we can see ‘stacking habit’s working for OHS. After all, effectively managing your OHS or WHS obligations in the workplace is largely about ‘keeping on top of it’ and ‘keeping it top of mind’. So, try stacking your regular office habits with your OHS ones, and start achieving your health and safety targets for the year today.

 

 

If you are still struggling with how to encourage your staff to stack habits or to actually take health and safety as seriously as it needs to be, watch this video to see how our software can be a great solution. It allows you to digitise your OHS targets, delegate tasks, apply deadlines and reminders, and give managers and owners an overview at the click of a mouse. Simple.

How you can identify the common injury hotspots in your industry?

One of the most difficult parts of business is managing your legal OHS and WHS obligations. Your business has responsibilities to both know and manage the ‘common’ health and safety hazards that are specific to your industry. But this means that you need to be proactive in identifying foreseeable hazards. It is only when you identify what could go wrong that you can actually prevent nasty things from occurring by planning and implementing strategies to avoid them.

 

For example, in the retail sector repetitive work, excessive carrying and lifting, or awkward postures are common causes of back and shoulder injuries. But, businesses must first know that poor manual handling practices like these commonly lead to injury, before they can develop strategies to manage the risk. So how do you know what is ‘foreseeable’ when you are not exactly a occupational health and safety expert?

 

Free safety promotion poster set for your workplace. Download now.

“I’m no OHS expert, how do I know what the ‘common’ OHS hazards are in my industry?”

 

Well, we are glad you asked! WorkSafe Victoria have this fantastic, freely available online tool that will tell you exactly which health and safety risks you should look out for in your workplace. They have even provided some great practical solutions for mitigating these risks. And some of these are so easy you can start implementing them today.

 

It’s called Injury Hotspots. Just type in your industry and then click on the body parts to read about common hazards and the practical solutions that you can adopt to avoid these hazards from occurring. The site also gives you links to all the official health and safety legislation documentation that you might need to learn more.

 

Now we think this is an incredibly useful tool for any business owner or team manager who is responsible for protecting the health and safety of their workers. So, why not jump online today and explore more about what you should be looking out for?

 

After you’ve learned a little more about the hazards in your industry, now you are ready to implement strategies to mitigate the risks. Read more about how to develop and achieve your health and safety targets and objectives. In addition, contact us to learn more about how our software can help your business keep managing OHS in your business nice and simple.

Four ways to provide better support to your First Aid Officers

Many businesses these days have got some great OHS/WHS practices going on, realising the huge importance of keeping their employees healthy and safe. It’s more and more common to see OHS posters up in workplace tearooms, clearly marked and fully stocked first aid kits, and appointed fire wardens and first aid officers.

 

At Safety Champion, we think this is an awesome step forward! We’re even starting to see businesses of only a few staff undertaking health and safety activities throughout the year, especially those taking advantage of useful safety management software like Safety Champion! But of the more common activities we see is having a First Aid Officer in place.

 

It’s important to remember that businesses should not only appoint a First Aid Officer but also ensure they are trained and regularly skilled up in case one of those unfortunate incidents does occur. Typically, First Aid Officers rarely use their ‘skills’. However, if something nasty happens in the workplace, it is important that they are confident and ready to respond.

 

Typically, First Aid Officers rarely use their ‘skills’. However if something nasty occurs in the workplace, it is important that they are confident and ready to respond.

 

So, here are some easy, low-investment ideas that you can easily adopt to support the people who put up their hand to be the workplace First Aid Officer;

 

  1. Hold a quarterly or 6-monthly meeting with your first aid officers to review the incident reporting register and discuss how to manage any foreseeable scenarios. Consider having individual First Aid Officers review these scenarios – let’s say 2 or 3 scenarios each time you meet.
  2. Email some useful ‘how-to’ blogs and other related OHS/WHS articles to First Aid Officers to remind them of their training and to help them maintain confidence in their first aid skills. Like ours, for example!
  3. Print and display first aid safety posters. This will assist non-First Aid Officers build their interest and understanding of your first aid program. Our friends at Alsco have over 40 freely downloadable and print-ready posters for you to choose from; such as first aid signsfirst aid visual guide posters; and first aid posters.
  4. Provide your First Aid Officers with access to the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all hazardous chemicals that are available for use in your workplace. Consider collating the first aid information – and ensure that all first aid requirements are available. Again, you may look to review 2 or 3 chemicals each time you meet.

 

Free safety promotion poster set for your workplace.Download now.

 

Only have one First Aid Officer? No problem! Add ‘first aid’ as an agenda item to your existing operational or ‘business as usual’ meetings – this can been routinely, it does not have to be at every one of these meetings. The key is to make sure your First Aid Officer(s) remain trained with current practices. Oh and don’t forget to keep that first aid kit stocked and ready.

 

We know that managing health and safety in the workplace can seem hard and complicated. Watch this video to see how Safety Champion Software can help simplify the whole thing for you. 

For more detail about first aid take a look at the Code of Practices for Victoria and all other states. And here are some more docs about managing the working environment: 

What on earth did we do before MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks?

It wasn’t actually so long ago that many small to medium sized businesses were still shuffling invoices and receipts around a desk, and filing them away in cumbersome binders waiting for tax time. But thinking about it now, how on earth did we do that?! Where would your business be now without the convenience and ease of software like MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks?

 

Whilst accounting has now become that much easier to handle in the workplace – even for the lay person – the same will soon be true for health and safety management. In the very near future it will be difficult to believe that once upon a time we were still manually recording health and safety checks, hand writing incident reports and maintaining registers in messy shared spreadsheets. The beautiful thing is that this ‘easier way of the future’ for health and safety is actually already here.

 

More and more businesses are starting to pick up on this. One of our clients who recently rolled over to our cloud-based health and safety software, reported immediate improvements to workplace safety culture. They told us that the software assisted them to think about incident prevention often and early, and before any unfortunate accidents might occur.

 

What other benefits do users of OHS or WHS software software find? And why do businesses need it? Well, here are the four main benefits that we are hearing from our clients:

 

  1. It allows for greater oversight by management.
  2. It produces accurate and consistent reporting and information.
  3. It makes information and reporting easily accessible.
  4. It promotes a safety-first culture, which ultimately keeps us safer!

 

So, just as MYOB changed the way accounting was done by providing a user-friendly product that simplified the complexity of accounting, OHS or WHS Software or Safety Management Software Systems (however you like to call it!) like Safety Champion do the same for health and safety management.

So, why not take a product tour today? Or read more about the benefits of going paperless.

 

Tips for safer manual handling practices in your workplace

Think about the last time you lifted an object that was heavier or more awkward than you realised.

 

You might feel pretty sure that you didn’t injure yourself when you moved it, but don’t let this fool you. Actually, incorrect lifting practices can lead to chronic or ongoing problems whether you feel it at the time or not.

 

From a health and safety perspective in the workplace, this is an important consideration for employers and managers. It means that not only may you be liable for any immediate injuries to your workers caused by poor manual handling practices, but also the oftentimes ‘hidden’ injuries that may be sustained over time.

 

Get your free manual handling safety promotion poster

 

 

The reality is that it is more than common that manual handling – any activity that requires effort to lift, move, push, pull, carry, hold or restrain any object – isn’t managed as well as it could be in most workplaces.

 

 

Body stressing and manual handling accounts for 40% of all workers compensation claims with an average cost per case of AUD$115,780.

 

 

Industries like the retail sector – where associated risks and hazards are higher due to the nature of the business – need to be particularly aware. Workers regularly lift and move stock around from storeroom to display to customers, increasing risks.

 

 

What don’t you know about manual handling?

 

Whilst most managers and workers understand safe lifting principles like “bend you knees” and “keep your back straight,” effective management of manual handling in the workplace extends past this.

 

It is also about the layout of your display and storeroom spaces. It’s about using the best operational practices possible to reduce the risks. And it’s also about encouraging all lifting to happen with the low risk zone (see the picture below).

 

Here are two simple things to consider to assist you in reducing the risks and hazards to your workers;

 

Weight of the products.

Lighter items should be placed on higher shelves. Heavier items should be placed on shelves between shoulder and mid-thigh height, ideally at waist height.

This said, regularly accessed items should be stored, shoulder and mid-thigh height, with infrequently accessed stock outside of this zone.

 

Height of the products.

When unpacking stock from boxes, identify ways that this can be done at hip height. To enable easy reach, products on the top shelves should not be stacked on top of each other.

Change the size or weight of packaging by breaking down large loads into smaller ones, and finding out if stock is available in smaller sizes. Smaller loads can be lifted and handled more easily.

safety champion software advice for better manual handling practices in the workplace

 

 

How to start with better practices today

So, you can see that ensuring of the health and safety of your workers with regard to lifting and moving stock around doesn’t have to be overly complex. It can be as simple as reorganising your spaces, providing trolleys or step ladders to help, or even just considering how you can reduce double or triple handling of stock on a day-to-day basis.

 

Maybe start by getting your team together to discuss how you can create the safest manual handling practices in your workplace.

 

Remember that it’s your workers who will likely be the first to notice any difficulties, and they are probably the ones to have some great ideas for how you can improve procedures and tasks to support a healthy and safe workplace for all.

 

 

Learn about our free software to help you manage safety better.

 

 

If you would like some help about holding an internal meeting to discuss manual handling at your workplace, here’s a handy Manual Handling Toolbox Talk to help you out. To learn more about what you can do, here’s the Code of Practice: Hazardous Manual Tasks to guide you. 

 

Do you have young, first-time workers on board?

Last year, WorkSafe Victoria ran a brilliant public campaign to build awareness about the vulnerability of young people to workplace injury – especially those working in the retail, construction, hospitality and manufacturing industries. Why are they especially vulnerable? Well, it’s simply because they lack the experience, foresight and maturity to know when they may be putting themselves or others at risk.

 

So, what do you need to do to manage your duty regarding OHS for the first-time workers that you have on board in your workplace? Well, think about it from the perspective of sales and customer service. When new employees first start you give them training and guidance about things like the products you have available, how to help customers find what they need, and how to use the cash register, right? Well, it’s the same for health and safety… they need training and guidance.

 

Since, they’ve never been in a workplace before, they probably don’t know the first thing about the concept of health and safety. Maybe they’ve seen the acronyms OHS, WHS, OSH or WOHS, but don’t know what it means to them. So, start at the beginning. Ensure that health and safety has a prominent position in your induction and initial training sessions. Ensure your new workers know the health and safety procedures, how to use your equipment, what the right safety gear is to use, and importantly make it explicitly clear that they know who to talk to if they have a question about health and safety.

 

Nominating a supervisor or a buddy who can provide day-to-day advice and closely monitor young workers is important. And so is encouraging young people to ask for advice from that person and speak up if they feel something is dangerous, or are unsure. Sure, they may not be experts in hazard identification and risk management, but most of us, even your young workers have that special sense that alters us if something looks dodgy or dangerous to staff or customers. So, reassure them that they can question procedures and tasks if they think there is a risk to their safety and health. They simply need to feel comfortable to raise the issue with their supervisor so that you can together determine next steps.

 

What we love about the WorkSafe Victoria campaign is that it encourages young people to be aware of their role in health and safety in the workplace. After all, a healthy and safe workplace is one that actively involves everyone from senior management all the way through to your newest and youngest staff members.

 

So, why not try using these videos to open up communication with your young workers about health and safety in your workplace today.

Are you protecting the safety of your workers who handle cash?

This is something that you may not have thought about before. But just by being a business where cash handling is a common part of your daily dealings, you may be increasing health and safety risks of your workers.

 

If you think about it, this makes sense. Often small and medium sized businesses, like as entertainment venues, restaurants and retailers, don’t have access to the same security systems and measures for cash handling that the bigger guys have. This can make your business a vulnerable target, increasing the chance of theft and robbery. And your workers may actually get caught up in these instances if they do occur.

 

So, what can you do to protect the health and safety your workers from these risks? While an exhaustive and expensive security system may not be viable for you right now, there are a number of simple things that you can do now to reduce the chance of any unfortunate events happening. Here’s just a few from us:

 

  • Get your team together and assess your processes and the workplace itself to see if there are hazards that can easily be managed and improved. Use the hazard identification checklist in this guide (Appendix A) to help you.
  • Encourage, don’t discourage your customers from using credit or EFTPOS to minimize the amount of cash you take in.
  • Avoid routine when it comes to moving cash off site such as changing the day and route that you travel to the bank.
  • Ensure that when you are handling large amounts of cash there is more than one person present.
  • Where possible, attempt to have cash handling spots in highly visible locations.

 

While this list includes just a few of the things to consider, it really is vital that you take an active role in managing the things that may be increasing the risk of cash-related incidences at your workplace. After all, it is for the protection of your employees, and their health and safety. To help you out, read this guide from Safe Work Australia – Guide for transporting and handling cash, for a more extensive overview of things you should consider.

Ways to reduce the risks of fatigue in your workplace.

There’s no denying that the 24/7, ‘always on’ world we are now living in is becoming more than a worry when it comes to both our mental and physical health and wellbeing. And one of the biggest worries is sleep – or more specifically, the lack thereof! A recent report released by the Sleep Health Foundation highlighted that the daytime consequences of inadequate sleep are increasingly common, affecting up to 45% of the population. So that made us wonder – what does this mean for health and safety in the workplace?

 

Unsurprisingly, the report revealed that a lack of sleep can affect worker performance. Scarily, 29% of adults in the study reported that they had made errors at work due to sleepiness or sleep problems. While 17% reported that they missed work due to feeling sleepy. So, encouraging good quality sleep is clearly important for any business looking to optimise productivity and worker performance.

 

But it goes further than this. Many workplaces need to manage high consequence hazards that may be heavily impacted by fatigue. One of the key hazards, common to many roles and workplaces, is driving. On this point, the Sleep Health Foundation report revealed some alarming stats with 29% of people reporting that they have driven whilst drowsy and 20% actually nodded off whilst doing it. But worse still, 5% of the respondents reported having had an accident in the past 12 months due to dozing off! So, if driving is part of your workers role, or is even simply the way they get to and from work, supporting your workers to get better sleep is vital.

 

So what can you do? Whilst we’d all love to provide a room full of hammocks, nap pods like Google, or a dedicated siesta time, it’s unfortunately not practical for all workplaces! So below are some simple and effective considerations to help you manage the impact of fatigue on your workers:

 

Talk to your workers

Learn whether the work itself might be a contributing factor to the sleep quality of your workers. Discover whether there are tasks that your workers identify as dangerous or difficult when they are fatigued. Talking to your workers will help you identify the health and safety hazard, so you can establish a process to control it and manage the risks.

 

Change your workplace culture

Don’t disadvantage workers who turn their phone or email off when they leave the office. And don’t just say this, actively encourage it by setting the example yourself and communicating about the importance of switching off to allow for proper rest and recuperation.

 

Provide workers with information

The Sleep Health Foundation has over 75 fact sheets that can guide and inform you. Use these to lead a health and safety toolbox talk with your workers, or print a few of the most relevant ones to pin up in the staff kitchen.

 

Establish a Driving for Work Policy

This is a guideline that maps out safe distances to be travelled within specific time periods, start and finish times, car safety ratings should there be an incident, etc. It can help to manage the risks of driving while on the job.

 

Sleep disorder screenings

For higher risk workers, such as those who work in transport, shift work, or operate heavy machinery, consider whether a sleep disorder screening could be of benefit. This may be pre-employment or routinely during employment and can help you to manage the risks.

 

 

However, as you explore the workplace factors that may contribute to fatigue risks, remember that it’s not only work related tasks that contribute. The fatigue hazard exists whether it is a result of work or non-work related activity. So, watch out for other personal or home-related factors such as workers with newborn babies or stress.

 

Check out this useful factsheet about fatigue as an occupational hazard to help you make sure you are on top of managing the risks.

 

 

Some things you hadn’t thought about when you last hired a contractor…

Just in case you were wondering… yes, your business has the same duty of care towards contractors as it does for its employees. The contractors you engage must be provided with a working environment that is without risk to health and safety, just like everyone else.

 

You get that but actually you are pretty confident that your workplace is safe. You are totally on top of managing OHS policy and procedure. But let’s spin this on its head for a second. Have you thought about whether the contractor themselves might introduce risks you haven’t already planned for?

 

Here’s some things to think about managing the time you have at work:

 

  • Ensure of competence. If the contractor is not competent to complete the work that you have agreed on they may be putting your other workers at risk. So, before you take them on, gather supporting information like certificates and licences, and verify competency through references.
  • Conduct an induction. If they don’t know the rules and procedure, again they may be putting others, and themselves, at risk. Hold an induction covering workplace rules, emergency procedures, hazard and incident reporting processes before they commence work. And regardless of whether they are at the workplace for an hour or a year.
  • Define responsibilities. Identify which workers in your workplace will be responsible for managing or supervising contractors. This will help ensure that if anything goes amiss, someone with workplace experience can catch it early.
  • Monitor work. Once the contractor has commenced work, your responsibility does not stop. Keep across what they are doing and check in with them. They may have health and safety questions and concerns that come up as they go.

 

And finally, manage your risk and ensure that the contractor is insured. Request that the contractor provide you with their most current public liability, professional indemnity, and WorkCover insurances, as appropriate.

 

By the way, we’re not just talking about contractors in the construction industry. This is any person, or an organisation for that matter, that provides a service for a fee but is not a direct employee. Think consultants, freelancers, external accountants who work in your office… they are all contractors and, as such, the above still applies.

How to tame your documents…

For many businesses, document management is hard. Ensuring that documents are controlled so obsolete documents and superseded versions are not in circulation or being used can be difficult. While workplaces print our forms to allow easy access by workers when in need, these need to be removed when a document is updated. Whist on the surface, there may appear to be minimal consequence if an incorrect OHS document is referred to; should the OHS document be a work instruction, the result may be dire.

 

Documents are the guide for OHS implementation (i.e. the checklist template, the meeting agenda); whereas, Records demonstrate implementation of your OHS System into your workplace (i.e. the completed checklist, the meeting minutes).

 

If you are looking into way to tame your OHS documents, the following provides some nice direction on where to start:

  • Undertake sweep of documents that have been printed – are only the current versions available? Moving forward, can you look to review available OHS documents when undertaking workplace inspections?
  • Plan. Identify where you intend to store your OHS documents. Aim to store OHS documents in a secure location that can be accessible by all required stakeholders. This may be via an intranet and/or for a smaller business a Google Drive or Drop Box. Where ever you decide to store your documents, you should ensure that there are restrictions on who can edit or delete the document.
  • Develop a register of all OHS documents that have been developed for use within your organisation. Whilst Excel is a good start – ensure that those who can access and edit this document is controlled.
  • Determine who, or which department within your workplace will be responsible for maintaining, authorising and updating each OHS document. These responsibilities may be assigned as a whole or by individual document. List the person or department on the “OHS Documents Register“.
  • On each individual OHS document, (generally within the document footer,) as a minimum record the:
    • Document title
    • Date
    • Page number, and
    • Version number.
  • Make sure that you record all the information that you just included in the footer of your OHS document into the “OHS Documents Register“.
  • And finally, on the “OHS Document Register“, keep notes of all the changes that have been made to each OHS document.

The “OHS Documents Register” will be your key for clarity and managing the whole document management process – so, make sure you back it up!

This all said, if you are reading this thinking that “it’s all a little hard”, maybe cursing and perhaps of the opinion that the chances of an “OHS Document Register” being maintained is a crazy suggestion for us to make, then here’s an alternative idea for your consideration…Safety Champion. Safety Champion Software has a Document Management module that can do all of this for you. In addition, it will archive soft copies of obsolete OHS documents so they are can’t be accessed, but are never lost. Yes, it’s web-based, paperless and accessible on all your devices, but more importantly it will save you a stack of time and establish an efficient document management process, that will ensure your workers have access to your most current OHS document every day and every time. it is document Management made easy.

How to tame your records…

For literally every business out there, records management is the bane of everyone’s existence. Regardless of whether you are filing the “old school way” (i.e. shelves and shelves of paperwork, or folders in archive boxes), or you’ve moved into the “now” and you’re all cool and all about digital (i.e. scanned copies stored on internal computer drives), records management can be a headache.

 

Records demonstrate implementation of your OHS System into your workplace (i.e. the completed checklist, the meeting minutes); where as, Documents are the guide for OHS implementation (i.e. the checklist template, the meeting agenda)

 

When it comes to OHS records, the legislation actually requests that you to hang on to some for up to 30 years. Yep, 30 years! This said, there are other OHS records that the legislation requires you to hold onto for what may seem forever (i.e. the length of time a piece of equipment is at the workplace)! Nervous? Don’t be. Just get organised.

Yes, you can store records in folders. The challenge with this is finding them when needed, or identifying trends – once filed, often the OHS records is never to be seen again. These days, with the ease that we use computers, paper-based records appear harder to locate. Perhaps the level of “hardness” is at where it has always been, the ease of access via a computer has just shone a spotlight on it.

This said, when looking to establish a plan for managing your OHS records let’s get one thing straight. It is crucial that OHS records are not stored on employees personal computer drives or on an employees computer. Why? It is simple, if the employee leaves or their computer is lost, it is likely the OHS records will go missing also.

If you are a smaller business, Google Drive or Drop Box will support secure control of your documents; depending on your settings, deleted documents are archived not lost. Don’t be restricted to these two, there are a number of options out there for you to consider.

If however you are reading this and thinking, wouldn’t it be great if…

 

“When I store an OHS record, the saving of the record would then schedule the next occasion that the task is to be completed”

 

…then your thinking has aligned with ours. That’s exactly what we created with Safety Champion. Safety Champion offers a simple OHS Software solution for records management. Of course it’s web-based, paperless, and available on all devices. It will allow you to save all of your OHS records neatly in the cloud, to ensure that they can be easily access when the need arises. Great for management visibility of your OHS program, and amazing for OHS or compliance audits.

Three questions you need to ask to positively lead mental wellbeing discussions in your workplace

The Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration Business Leaders Breakfast was held on 7 March 2017. We were keen to be there, so arrived promptly at 7am, with coffee in hand, of course.

Mental wellbeing is a hazard that most workplaces are nervous to engage in conversation about and as OHS professionals we definitely get that. Unlike a broken bone or laceration, a mental health injury isn’t always noticeable, which can make it hard to manage. This said, as mental health becomes better understood and more accepted as a health hazard in the community, awareness of the positive benefits associated with mental wellbeing are becoming more and more prominent in a workplace. The great thing about awareness is that it provides workplaces with an entry point to start conversations with their workers.

 

How would you assist a worker who came to you with a mental wellbeing issue, or advised you that they were struggling or needed support?

How to manage such a situation was one of our team’s main take-aways from this breakfast. And the good news is that once discussed in the open, it felt as easy as A, B, C.

To facilitate tangible and positive outcomes as a manager, it is crucial that rather than talk, you listen. Frame your conversation with your worker around the following three questions:

  1. What is it that you need to do your job and to go home every day with energy to enjoy the life you live?
  2. What are you going to do differently to support your wellbeing in the workplace?
  3. If I see that you are struggling or not performing, how would you like me to approach you? Tell me the exact words do you want me to use.

 

Now, more than ever, it is important for workplaces have the confidence and the skills to manage mental wellbeing issues when they arise in the workplace.

So keep these questions at hand. Practice the conversation with your peers and seniors. Get comfortable and be prepared. If you can effectively create an open and supportive space for your workers to feel confident to speak about their pressures and worries, you will have a much better chance of addressing the issue and protecting the health and safety of your workers. And this will result in positive outcomes for your worker, yourself and your business.

Over the coming months, we’ll be providing more ideas and thoughts on ways that you can improve your capability to promote and manage positive mental wellbeing in your workplace. Stay tuned for more from us.

 

The Leaders Breakfast was headlined by Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director for the Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, and Chair of the technical committee for the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

This is an office. That OHS stuff doesn’t really apply here…

Right? Well, not quite. Actually, health and safety legislation in Australia doesn’t distinguish between industries or workplaces at all. Your duty to provide a ‘working environment that is safe and without risks to health and safety’ still applies even if you think it’s just those guys hanging off the side of your building cleaning the windows who have something to worry about. The health and safety of office workers is just as important.

 

So, what do you need to need to be aware of exactly? Well, OHS legislation is really all about mitigating risks to the health and safety of your workers. The legislation actually outlines a few duties that you, as a business owner or manager, can use to help you frame how to respond to it. Here are just a few of the things that relate to office workplaces to give you an idea of what we are talking about:

 

Emergency Management – What’s the plan if there’s a fire, serious injury, or aggressive customer?

Worker Training – Is OHS in your induction for new employees? Do your workers know the basics?

Consulting your Workers – When was the last time you spoke to your workers about OHS?

Incident Reporting – Did you know you need to keep a record of many injuries?

Managing Hazards – How do you manage:

  • Electricity – How is damaged equipment removed?
  • Housekeeping – Are there broken chairs lying around that someone might sit on?
  • Heavy Lifting – Do your staff sometimes carry heavy items around? Should they?
  • Stress – Are workloads increasing right now? Are you going through a big change in procedure or structure? Read more about stress management here.
  • Workstation ergonomics – What equipment have you provided? Is it suitable?

 

You are probably already starting to think about some things in your workplace that you really should look into further, right? But don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think to put some solid control measures in place to prevent unnecessary injuries and illnesses.

 

To get started or to refresh some of the procedures you used to have in place, try reading a few of the resources below for more information, setting up a meeting with your workers (if you have OHS representatives great!) to review your procedures and policies, engaging an OHS consulting specialist company to help guide you, or even trying a software system like Safety Champion which comes with all of the checks and measures you need, tailored perfectly to your business needs. The good news is that if “stuff” is happening, your procedures don’t need to be documented – you just need to be able to demonstrate that you are doing something. If you look to document them, which can improve consistency and support knowledge transfer, try to avoid long and lengthy – could a flowchart or playbook better suit your business?

 

Sounds like a hassle, but the good news is that doing this right is good for business too. Ultimately, well implemented health and safety practices in your business will likely result in improved productivity and a healthier and safer office culture.

 

 

After more detailed information about this?

Here are some detailed docs about First Aid: First Aid in the Workplace Compliance Code (VIC) and Code of Practice First Aid in the Workplace (Other States). In addition, our friends at Alsco have 40+: (i) first aid signs, (ii) first aid visual guide posters; and (iii) first aid posters, that are all freely downloadable and print ready. And here are some more docs about managing the working environment: Workplace Amenities and Work Environment (VIC) and Managing the Work Environment and Facilities (Other States)

 

 

How to prevent stress from escalating in your workplace.

This is news to a lot of businesses we work with, but currently work-related stress is the second most commonly compensated illness or injury in Australia. So, it’s a big deal and something for businesses to certainly watch out for. But how does it escalate to this point? And what signs can you look out for to ensure that your staff don’t burn out before year-end?

 

Did you know that mental stress costs Australian businesses more than $10 billion per year? [Safe Work Australia, 8 April 2013]

 

Work-related stress often arises when work demands exceed a worker’s capacity and capability to cope. This may be seen through changes in a worker’s mood such as increased nervousness, low morale, inattentiveness, anxiety, negativity and frustration. But it may also become apparent through changes in your workers ability to perform to their usual standard. If you notice changes in staff productivity such as missed deadlines, changes in quality of work, tense relationships between staff, and increased sick days, ask yourself whether there may be a stressor in the workplace contributing to or causing this.

 

Workplace change such as restructures, new leadership, and other major organisational events like EOFY are known workplace stressors. Therefore, it is important that you consider the health and safety of your workers whenever your business is undergoing any of these events. Be on the front foot to mitigate the risk of stress on your staff. During these times, and anytime you notice the tell tail signs of stress mentioned above, ask some of the following questions:

 

  • Have you placed unreasonable deadlines or pressure on your staff?
  • Is there a change in the duties you have asked them to perform?
  • Are you over- or under-supervising?
  • Is the work boring or without challenge? Is it too hard?
  • Do your workers have the resources to fulfil the duties of their role? This could be time, skills, team members, or physical resources.
  • Is there an adequate working environment or equipment available?
  • Has there been adequate opportunity for promotion, training or upskilling?
  • Is harassment or discrimination being experienced?

 

Identifying risk is the first step to managing stress, just like any other hazard in the workplace. So, look out for the early warning signs and communicate these to your business leaders, Health and Safety Representatives and workers. Then you can assess them, determine effective control measures and prevent stress from escalating into something much more serious.

 

Remember that stress not only impacts your workers’ productivity and quality of work, but it can also extend beyond the workplace and into your workers’ private lives. And of course, the last thing that any of us want is to affect the family life, personal relationships and health of our colleagues around us.

 

Looking for more direction on how to identify whether stress may be a hazard in your business? Take a look at WorkSafe Victoria’s Stresswise Toolkit Worksheet. What we love about this resource is that it provides businesses with a simple approach that can be easily implemented at your workplace. Just like what we at Safety Champion do.

How to actually achieve your OHS targets in 2017

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Ok, this is something that we harp on about a bit at Safety Champion – but it’s just so true. Wishes are good when blowing out birthday candles, but when it comes to the health and safety of your workers, just hoping that it’ll all be all ok is not fair on anyone! So, here’s a few planning pointers to help you reach your OHS targets in 2017.

 

At the end of the day, the point of safety objectives and targets is to make your workplace safer, right? So, start by identifying potential areas for improvement. Maybe these are things that you didn’t quite get around to doing last year or stuff your staff have been complaining about for a while. Let’s call these goals. Maybe it’s something like ‘Ensure all staff are trained and briefed about our Safety Management System’. A few obvious ones may come to mind, but consider consulting your workers to identify goals that are most relevant and will have impact.

 

Once these have been identified be sure to prioritise the goals. We can’t achieve everything at once, especially when time and resources are limited – so select the goals that will have the greatest impact. Prioritisation will help keep everyone focused on what is most important.

 

Now, establish some specific targets to achieve within each of the broader goals. This is where it gets a little more specific. So, for our example above, a target could be ‘Ensure we meet at least 80% attendance for quarterly OHS training in our workplace for the year 2017.’

 

The most important part of this exercise it to ensure that the targets you set are clear and measurable. While it is good to be ambitious at times, there’s no point setting targets that you cannot possibly achieve. So yes, make them challenging, but also make them achievable.

 

Now, it’s time to identify the activities that you will undertake in order to achieve these targets, and assign those activities to your workers. Again, taking our example, an activity could be ‘Design and facilitate quarterly OHS training sessions for staff’ and this could be assigned to ‘Jenny.’

 

Often clients tell us that they have targets and have identified activities; however, they struggle to implement. This is very common – so don’t worry, you are not the only ones! Here are a few of the key reasons for this so you can watch out for them:

  • OHS activities are not clearly assigned to workers.
  • Workers are not given adequate resources, information or timeframes to complete their assigned activities.
  • Workers are expected to complete safety activities in addition to their regular job. TIP; make safety activities part of a position description and NOT an addition.
  • Workplaces fail to monitor the progress of each activity on a regular basis.

 

So, make sure you set up regular progress reviews throughout the year to ensure you are on track to meet your targets. These reviews can also be used to re-align your targets to ensure that remain relevant! Meet with your workers to ensure they have everything that they need to complete the activity on time. If they don’t, get it for them! And don’t forget to assess the performance of each activity against the boarder goals and targets set. Make sure your health and safety efforts continue to align with what you determined was most important ing the beginning.

 

Right, that’s it in a nutshell. And while all of this can all be easily managed in our Safety Champion OHS Software, it is certainly possible to follow these pointers and track it all manually too. If you are doing it this way, why not use some of our OHS Tool Box Talks to start conversations with your workers around what the most important areas for improvement in your OHS Safety Management System are. Good luck!

Planning this year’s Christmas Party? Know your health and safety role

Yes, Christmas is a great time to celebrate the year’s achievements and let loose with your colleagues and workers. It’s a fun event and one we certainly look forward to each year. However, many employers are surprised to hear of their responsibilities in terms of ensuring their workers are safe and healthy at these events. Because, actually, a workplace-endorsed event like a Christmas party means many occupational health and safety rules and regulations still apply. So, let us give you a run down.

 

In most legal contexts, the work Christmas party is considered part of the work environment – even if the party is held after hours or offsite. So, this means that your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your employees still applies. As such, your workplace risk management practices with respect to health and safety need careful consideration for these kinds of events. And they become a little trickier when alcohol is added – the risk is obviously heightened.

 

It is important for businesses to understand that they may be liable for any employee injuries that occur before, during or after a workplace function, regardless of whether the injury happened as a result of the employee being intoxicated.

 

A ruling by the NSW Workers’ Compensation Commission accepted a claim lodged by an employee who was injured following business drinks with a client. Even though the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury, the NSW Workers Compensation Commission found that socialising with the client was in the course of employment.

 

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Like all other hazards in the workplace, you just need to take the steps to understand and mitigate the risks for your upcoming Christmas party! Here are some suggestions from us:

 

Risk Assess. Document a risk assessment that identifies all foreseeable hazards and their defined controls, and incorporate this as part of your event planning. For example:

  • Do you have a plan in place for managing intoxicated guests?
  • Do you have a plan in place for managing uninvited guests?
  • Have you considered security options? Does the venue provide security, or should you hire your own?
  • And don’t forget to consider a site inspection prior to the event.

 

Revisit and Remind Your Employees of Your Expectations. In the days prior to the Christmas event, remind staff by email or memo about the expected standards of behaviour, and the disciplinary consequences that may take place. This should see you reinforce your workplace’s OHS, EEO and Code of Conduct Policies to all attendees.

 

Be clear. Explain to guests when the event will finish. Clearly set out defined start and finish times for the event and ensure that these are stated on the invitation. Realise that arranging or paying for drinks at an ‘after party’ will most likely extend your liability.

 

Travel. How will workers travel to and from the function? In some states, remember that your workers compensation obligations do not just cover the employee’s time at work, but also extends to the journey to and from work – in this case the Christmas party.

 

Manage alcohol. Consumption of alcohol is likely to be a key risk. Consider restricting the amount of drinks or the strength of drinks that are available. If possible, avoid table service and ‘top-ups’ as it makes it harder for employees to break between drink or keep track of how many drinks they’ve had. Always have non-alcoholic alternatives available.

 

Provide food. A meal or finger food has been shown to slow down alcohol consumption. Also, Provide substantial and diverse food options making sure dietary requirements are catered for.

 

Supervise! Appoint someone to be responsible for overseeing that the festivities run smoothly. This person should monitor safety hazards such as wet floors, loose cables and manage incidents that may occur during the event. What are your internal first aid procedures? Supervision should include monitoring the controls identified within your pre-event risk assessment.

 

Debrief. In the days following the event, review the pre-event risk assessment and evaluate the effectiveness of the identified controls. Good documentation at this end will support your planning for next year.

 

And finally, while health and safety is important, it should not be a blocker for a great time! Some careful thought and planning before your Christmas party will ensure that it is enjoyable, safe and fun for everyone involved!

 

Merry Christmas from everyone at Safety Champion!

Everything you need to know about Personal Protective Equipment

As an employer you are responsible for establishing control measures to best ensure your workers are not injured when at work. One method commonly used to manage your workers exposure to hazards in the workplace is by providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Whilst it’s common for businesses to provide PPE to workers and contractors, many are not exactly sure of the circumstances or rules that surround this. So, let us give you a quick overview.

 

What is PPE?
PPE is anything used or worn by a person to minimise risks to that person’s health or safety. It includes a wide range of clothing and safety equipment such as boots, facemasks, hard hats, earplugs, respirators, gloves, safety harnesses, high visibility clothing and more.

 

When should PPE be used?
PPE should be used when an uncontrolled hazard has been identified in the workplace. Some common hazards that PPE is often used to help manage include:
Noise = earplugs or earmuffs
Dust = respirators
Contact with skin and/or body = gloves, clothes, apron, glasses, safety boots
UV Radiation = clothes, hat, glasses, sunscreen. Read more about this here.

 

How does PPE work?
PPE creates a barrier between the worker and that hazard. However you should remember that on most occasions PPE will not stop full exposure to the hazard. It will only reduce the workers exposure to that hazard.

For this reason it’s important to note that PPE should not be used as the only measure you use to manage hazards. Generally PPE should be used to supplement higher level control measures – think of it as a back-up, or, as an interim measure until a more effective way of controlling the hazard can be used.

 

Do I have to provide it?
In short, if workers are required to wear PPE to undertake their job, the employer must provide PPE to workers.

 

So, how do you know if PPE is required?
Generally, PPE is either standard across your industry (for example wearing high visibility clothing when working around traffic), or, has been identified as the outcome from a risk assessment that your workplace has completed.

 

Can I charge my employees for it?
If PPE has been identified as a requirement by the workplace, it’s actually an offence for an employer to charge or levy a worker for it. This includes footwear if it has been identified as a requirement of the role. Workplace relations’ laws also prohibit deductions from employee’s wages for PPE. With respect to some PPE and footwear, often some workplaces will have a ‘standard’ PPE offering. Workers may seek reimbursement outside of this offering, if they choose, so long as their PPE meets the required standard.

 

How do I choose the correct PPE?
When choosing PPE, you should consult with the users of the PPE – your workers – to ensure that the it does not create additional hazards, and to ensure that it will not impede the worker to undertake their job. Something that is often forgotten is considering how the PPE will be used in practice – simple, yet often missed! Once the PPE has been identified at your workplace, your next step should be to ensure that it meets the appropriate Australian Standards.

 

Is there anything else I should be aware of?
There are a couple of key things:

  • Firstly, if you provide PPE in your workplace, there is an expectation within the legislation that you will train your workers on the correct use, fit and maintenance of the PPE. Whilst there is a legislative requirement to do this, there is no legislative requirement to document this. However, should there be an injury in the future – consider whom the investigator will believe? The worker who advises that they have not been trained – whether this is true or not. Or the workplace that advises that the worker has been trained but has no documented records to prove it.
  • Secondly, the PPE you chose may have an expiry date – for example hardhats. This means that you will need to identify a process to monitor and manage this.
  • Finally, issuing PPE may mean that your workplace has additional legislated duties, such as completing audiometric (in other words hearing-related) tests. These tests, as an example, must be typically completed within specific timeframes. So bear this in mind.

 

 

We know that even something as simple as using the right equipment and gear in the workplace can add to your ‘to do’ list and escalate into a small headache. But with our Safety Champion Software, features like automatic reminders about PPE replacement deadlines, or quick PPE overview Toolbox Talks all come as part of the package. So, to make things a little easier on yourself, why not take a product tour today?

Which SPF rating sunscreen should my workers be using?

These days, it seems like there are so many different SPF ratings of sunscreen on the market it’s hard to be sure of what it all means. SPF is actually a measure of sunscreens ability to prevent Ultra Violet B (UVB) from penetrating into and damaging the skin. It’s safe to say that the higher the number, the better job the sunscreen will do of this. In case you were hoping that the health and safety legislation would specify which SPF rating you should be using, well, we’re sad to inform it doesn’t.

 

But what the health and safety legislation does specify is that you must identify your workplace hazards, so these can be controlled, to allow you to provide a workplace that is safe for your workers. This means, if you have workers out in the sun, you need to protect them against UV rays so they don’t get sunburn – and melanoma down the track. So, if you do have workers working outdoors, how can this be controlled and what SPF should be being used? Let us give you the low down.

 

Actually, most sunscreens with an SPF rating of 15 or higher do an excellent job of shielding the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. When used properly, SPF15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation. SPF30 is obviously going to be better and provides 97%. So, yep, you guessed it – the higher the better! And certainly either is better than nothing.

 

But it’s important to know that there is no single sunscreen will provide 100% coverage. So, along with the highest SPF rating sunscreen you can get your hands on, you should consider other methods to manage your workers time in the sun, like:

  • Providing UV protective, long-sleeved collared shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Rescheduling tasks to ensure outdoor work is performed at the start of end of the day.
  • Providing access to shelter or shade.

 

And as a general rule of thumb, sunscreen won’t stay effective for longer than two hours without reapplication, regardless of the SPF rating. So, don’t forget to remind your workers of this, despite what the bottle might say!

 

Want to learn about mitigating other risks related to your staff working in the sun? Read our blog about ways to avoid heat stress. And if your business does need to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like sunscreen, to manage sun related hazards, you might find our blog about Everything you need to know about Personal Protective Equipment a useful read.

 

Some like it hot, others get heat stress…

According to the weather gurus, we are approaching another steamy, hot summer in Australia. When are we not, right?! But now is the time to refresh your memory about some of the key ways to protect your employees and contractors working outdoors or in hot conditions from the risks of heat stress.

 

Heat stress occurs when the body cannot sufficiently cool itself. While it can occur all year round in some working environments, risks increase in summer as ambient temperature and humidity rises, along with changes in air-movement, radiant heat, clothing selections, and physical exertion.

 

Signs and symptoms of heat stress include feeling sick, nauseous, dizzy or weak. Workers may also feel clumsy, collapse or experience convulsions.

 

If these symptoms occur, workers should immediately seek first-aid or medical assistance, rest in a cool and well-ventilated area, and drink cool fluids.

 

Impaired workers are not safe workers. If you know the hazard potential, you must manage the hazard exposure.

 

But prevention first! Heat stress can be minimised through the consideration and implementation of a number of controls. Here are a few pointers from us:

 

  • Rescheduling tasks to ensure that anything requiring greater physical exertion is performed during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Identifying methods to rotate workers between tasks that occur in hot conditions, such as up skilling workers to job-share.
  • Identifying and procuring correct mechanical aids or plant that may reduce physical exertion, or, better still, eliminate the requirement to work in the heat.
  • Ensure your workers are wearing appropriate clothing such as light, loose fitting, and preferably cotton clothing. Outdoor workers should be provided with PPE against UV radiation, including a wide brim hat, loose fitting, long-sleeved collared shirt and long pants, sunglasses and SPF sunscreen of 15 or higher.
  • Providing fans or installing air conditioners to reduce air temperature and increase air flow.

 

Remember that the health and safety legislation requires you to provide a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health and safety of your workers and contractors. So, think about adopting some of these ways to help prevent your workers from getting heat stress this summer and all year round.

 

 

Heat stress isn’t the only kind of stress, right? If managing your health and safety obligations is causing you unnecessary stress, why not think implementing our simple and affordable health and safety software to help take the pressure off! Contact us today.

What about the secondary caregiver’s health and safety?

In March this year, Australian dot com giant REA Group announced a pretty amazing parental leave policy. It not only supports parents regardless of their gender but the benefits extend beyond the primary care giver, to the secondary caregiver. Primaries receives six months’ paid parental leave at full pay, while the secondary carer receives three month’s paid leave. This got us thinking a bit about the role of the secondary carer when that newborn does arrive…

 

Typically in Australia, maternity leave is far more likely to be offered to employees than paternity leave for most businesses. Many businesses don’t offer gender-neutral policies nor much of a consideration at all for the secondary caregiver. You might be lucky to get two weeks. However, there is some evidence to suggest that we should be considering the role of the secondary carer – who is at this stage quite often a man – when considering the health and safety of our employees.

 

According to a study from Southern Cross University in collaboration with Griffith University, working fathers with new babies actually experience cumulative fatigue that may pose increased risks in the workplace.

 

The study was undertaken using a survey completed by 241 fathers mostly living on the Gold Coast in Australia. It found that fathers experience increased fatigue during early fatherhood and that this fatigue was related to a decrease in safety behaviour at work. Compared to other men, men with babies less than 12 weeks old were:

 

  • 36% more likely to have a near miss at work, and
  • 26% more likely to have a near miss on the road to and from work.

 

“The results paint a disturbing picture of fathers with babies undergoing worsening fatigue over the first 12 weeks of their baby’s life, unrelieved by poor and interrupted sleep and with potential consequences to their work safety.” – Southern Cross University School of Health and Human Services, senior lecturer Gary Mellor.

 

A core consideration to come out of this research is the concept of rethinking parental leave in general. While secondary carers typically do take time off during a child’s birth, the crucial period for rest and recuperation may come later than the initial two weeks.

 

Have you considered, or should you consider?

  • Providing parental leave for the secondary caregiver later in the baby’s life, rather than just the first two weeks.
  • Providing the secondary caregiver with the opportunity to take a long weekend or two over the first three months of the birth.
  • Modifying their work environment to ensure fatigued new parents are not doing higher risk jobs.
  • Communicating flexible work practices to parents over this period.
  • Consider following suit with REA Group – it is the way of the future after all and the key to keeping great people around.

 

 

Our OHS Software can help your business delegate safety responsibilities to other workers when your people take leave, like parental leave. Contact us today to see how or read more about other considerations with your staff who are expecting here.

 

Go paperless with your OHS practices

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, finding a lost document will cost a company $122 on average. It is also estimated that 7.5% of all company documents are lost completely. So, let’s assume your company works with 1,000 documents a year – a modest figure. On average, that’s 20 documents a week, 4 documents per working day. That would mean, about 75 of those documents are doomed to be lost. And if you or your workers go about trying to find those documents, that’s a cost to your company of around $9,150 per year!

 

Ok, ok… agreed, it’s very unlikely that you or your workers will be actively looking behind cupboards with a magnifying glass (think Scooby-Doo) for every lost file. However, investigating paper filing and the potential monetary cost associated with this, allows you to consider methods that your workplace could operate more effectively and efficiently.

 

These days, business is all about streamlining processes and systems to increase productivity. We use more software, apps, devices, and access the internet more often than ever before. Our workers are tech-savvy and some of them almost demand that their employers keep up with new technology and innovative solutions that make their work life easier. And our workers, when it really comes down to it, are our business.

 

We use more software, apps, devices, and access the internet more often than ever before.

 

So, keep them happy, engaged and effective in this rapidly tech-focused world! Think about making the switch to paperless in all aspects of your business. Think about the slow hard copy filing processes, the off-site storage costs (a side note; retention periods for important documentation are long, if not becoming longer), the paper, ink and toner bill, and of course the environment! We promise you that the digital solutions to the old paper ways will be out there, regardless of what business you are in.

 

Cloud-based OHS Software to help you manage your occupational health and safety duties is one such example of a product that is already available to integrate into your business. It will streamline those messy paper trails. It will file and store all the records you need to keep safe in the cloud. It will make monitoring procedure and reporting just so much easier. And it will likely make your employees happy as it makes fulfilling their OHS duties that much easier.

 

If you are not there already, it really is time to consider going paperless. So, contact us to shift your OHS practices from the old hard copy ways to a simple, streamlined, cloud-based OHS Software solution.

What’s the difference between documents and records anyway?

It is important to understand that there is a difference between health and safety procedure documents and health and safety procedure records. For many small businesses, documented health and safety procedures are not vital to be in compliance with the legislation. Read more about this here. But health and safety records are most certainly required as they provide evidence of the activities you have performed as part of your health and safety procedure. These records must be kept by your business, just as receipts are kept for the taxman.

Here’s a list of the typical workplace documentation and the associated records that must be kept.

 

Typical Workplace Documentation Associated Records
Hazard and Risk Management Procedure

Workplace Inspection Form

Risk Assessment Template

Completed Workplace Inspection Form

Completed Risk Assessments

Training and Competency Procedure

Induction Training Checklist

Completed Induction Training Checklist

Training Certificates

Consultation and Communication Procedure

Terms of Reference

Consultation Statement

Meeting Minutes Template

Meeting Agenda

Meeting Minutes

Incident Management Procedure

Incident Report Form

Completed Incident Report Form

Photos of the Incident Site

Incident Investigation

RTW Plans / Medical Certificates

 

You may be wondering what happens with all of these records you need to keep. Well, these records must be kept by your business as evidence that you have complied with the legislation and kept a safe working environment for your staff. Generally speaking, with the exception of incident and injury records (which your business should keep, practically forever), your health and safety records should be kept for a minimum of 7 years. Although we advise that you check the exact timeframes and requirements of record keeping with your regulator.

Some pointers for those without formally documented OHS Procedures

For many small businesses, especially those with regular and ongoing communication across all levels of the business, undocumented Health and Safety Procedures may be sufficient to fulfil the legislative duty. Read more about this here. But to ensure that you are managing your health and safety legislative duty, here are some basic ‘no brainer’ procedures that you should consider establishing as a minimum:

  • Hazard and Risk Management. You workplace has a duty to provide a safe work environment. What steps have you undertaken to identify, control and review health and safety risks in your workplace?
  • Training and Competency. Your workplace has the duty to provide information to workers; in addition, there are some statutory obligations regarding training. How does your workplace manage this?
  • Consultation and Communication. The health and safety legislation is not prescriptive – its basis is the risk management approach. How do you know what all of the health and safety issues are without asking your entire workforce? What steps has your workplace established to ensure information is shared across the business?
  • Incident Management. Your workplace has statutory obligations to manage workplace injuries and, under certain circumstances, report incidents to the regulator. What workflows have you established?

If you are reading this and thinking it is still a little too hard, please contact us. We have functional, legislation-compliant solutions that can work for your business, whether it’s small or large.

Advantages to having documented Health and Safety Procedures in place

For many businesses documenting your Health and Safety Procedures is not vital to be in compliance with the legislation. Read more about this here. However, depending on the work that you do, there may be times that the legislation will require you to have your health and safety ‘ways of working’ documented.

For example, in Australia, there is a requirement across all jurisdictions to document the steps that your workers have establish to manage the risks associated with high risk construction work. The requirements of these documents, whether they are documented on paper or glass, are outlined within the health and safety regulations.

But there are also other reasons why your business should consider documenting your health and safety procedures. For example, if you run a company that is contracted by other organisations to undertake work on their behalf, it’s likely that you will one day be asked for a copy of your Health and Safety Procedures. Many businesses aim to manage the risks associated with the engagement of contractors, by only awarding contracts and/or tenders to contractors that have a documented Safety Management System. This ‘direction’ is designed to provide the business with assurances and greater confidence that the contractor they are engaging has considered their health and safety impacts.

For businesses that have not implemented a ‘documented’ Safety Management System this can often be a block on expanding their business. The requirements placed on contractors are here to stay and if anything, are likely to become more stringent. Why – because it makes things safer? No, not necessarily. It is more likely to be associated with us working in a litigious society, where there is a requirement for risk management needs to be explicit and demonstrable.What are Health and Safety Procedures

A final reason why documenting these procedures will be necessary is certification. And this is a different beast altogether. Should you proceed down this path, you should know that certification requires simple methods for the auditors to understand your established or official way of doing something.

There are advantages of certification, one key benefit is the ability to communicate to workers and customers that your Safety Management System is at a defined standard. It doesn’t mean your business is safer, it means that your business’ Safety Management System has achieved a defined standard.

 

An overview of the minimum Health and Safety Procedures required for certification against the Australian/New Zealand Standard and the National Audit Tool Version 3 (NAT3) are outlined in the table below.

 

Standard Documented Procedures Required
AS/NZS 4801:2001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, Guidance for Use. The following procedures are to be documented:

  • Hazard Identification, Hazard/Risk Assessment and Control of Hazards/Risks (of activities, products and services that the organisation has control over) (Criterion 4.4.3.1 / 4.4.6)
  • Health and Safety Consultation (Criterion 4.4.3)
  • Emergency Procedures (Criterion 4.4.7)
  • Monitoring and Measurement of Activities that may cause illness and injury (Criterion 4.5.1)

In addition to documented procedures, the standard requires documented evidence of the following:

  • Health and Safety Policy (Criterion 4.2)
  • Health and Safety Objectives and Targets (Criterion 4.3.3)
  • Health and Safety Accountability and Responsibilities (Criterion 4.4.1)
  • Management Health and Safety Review (Criterion 4.6)
National Audit Tool (Version 3) The NAT3 defined a procedure as a document in text or graphic format that describes the reason, scope, steps to be followed and responsibilities for a component of the Health and Safety Management System. It may also include definitions and references to other documents. It must be implemented effectively.

This means that procedures are required for:

  • Consultation (Criterion 3.4.1)
  • Identification of hazards and the assessment and control of risks (Criterion 3.4.4)
  • The exchange of relevant health and safety information with external parties (Criterion 3.5.3)
  • Dealing with formal and informal health and safety complaints received from external parties (Criterion 3.5.4)
  • Reporting and recording workplace injuries and illnesses, incidents and health and safety hazards, dangerous occurrences and system failures (Criterion 3.6.1)
  • Risk management (Criterion 3.9.7)
  • Verifying that purchased goods meet health and safety requirements (Criterion 3.10.6)
  • Materials and substances are disposed of safely (Criterion 3.10.9)
  • Permit to work – as required (Criterion 3.10.14)
  • Quarantine, or withdrawal from service, of unsafe plant or equipment (Criterion 3.10.17)
  • Material transport, handling and storage (Criterion 3.10.21)
  • Critical incidents (Criterion 3.11.8)
  • Health Surveillance – Identification and Management (Criterion 4.2.1)
  • Corrective Actions (Criterion 4.3.1)
  • Incident investigation Procedure (Criterion 4.3.2)

Don’t wait for the storm to pass, dance in the rain

Many businesses delay initialising their Health and Safety Management System for a number of reasons. Some of the commons ones we hear about every day are:

  • We don’t know where to start – I will look into it later.
  • We are too busy right now (sometimes incredibly busy) – so, our workers need to focus on our operations.
  • We don’t have the budget right now – let’s wait until the next financial year.
  • We are approaching a ‘blackout period’ – our workers need to focus on business themes.

So, why is delaying such an issue? Well, it’s an issue because all businesses have a legislated health and safety duty to provide a safe workplace. And, yes, this means right now, not later, not when you have the budget available, and not when you have time to finally turn your attention to health and safety.

Delaying the implementation of your Safety Management System or not ensuring that your workplace is inherently safe for your employees, is a breach of your business’ explicitly legislated health and safety duty ‘to provide a safe workplace’. No matter how hard it is ‘to provide a safe workplace’, and no matter what your business’ current operational focuses are – your business can’t wait for the storm to pass. Implementation of your Safety Management System and safety practices must start now!

 

To dance in the rain, health and safety needs to be part of the way that your business operates.

 

Given that the management of workplace health and safety is a legislative requirement, it follows that non-compliance can result in prosecution. Health and safety prosecution can be issued against: the business, the business’ management or the business’ workers, for breaches of the legislation. Maximum penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation (as at July 2016) in Australia are:

  • Corporation / Business: $3,000,000;
  • Officer (i.e. Owner/Executive Manger/Senior Manager): $600,000 & 5 years jail;
  • Workers and other persons $300,000 & 5 years jail.

So, now might be the right time to learn to dance in the rain and move ahead with your workplace health and safety management after all.

To make your health and safety management successful, it must be a prominent part of the way that your business operates. If health and safety is considered an ‘add-on’ to your operations, then safety will likely be an afterthought for your staff and your business’ safety culture will probably be low. The obvious danger with this is that the health and safety of your employees and workplace visitors is not actually protected all that well. And this is what it is all about.

To build health and safety into the core operations of your business, consider the following ideas:

  • Operational meetings and toolbox meetings. Add an item to your agenda that allows your staff to bring attention to hazards in the workplace or raises other health and safety issues for discussion.
  • Audit programs. If your workplace conducts business audits, like financial or stocktake audits, add a handful of ‘health and safety’ criteria into the mix.
  • Procurement processes. Why not manage the risks before purchasing plant or equipment? This will also save your business money by reducing the cost of retrofitting controls in the future.
  • Contractor engagement and management processes. Before employing new staff, you undoubtedly ensure that your candidate is competent, has experience, and fits your business culture, right? So, why wouldn’t you do the same with your contractors? 
  • Workplace design. Similar to procurement of equipment, pre-plan a little. Consider future operational growth, the requirements outlined within the health and safety standard, and optimising workflows. Just because it is the way you do it now, does not mean it’s the most efficient way or that it will be right in the future. With big change, comes big opportunity.

This is not an exhaustive list, however, it provides a few simple initiatives you can implement now to improve health and safety management within your business’ operations.

A “For Dummies” guide on what are Safety Management Systems can be found by following the link. In addition, to support effective implementation, you may want to review the following blogs we have previously posted What are Health and Safety Procedures for information on safety processes you should look to establish in your workplace, and/or Why You Should Transition your Safety Management System to an Online Safety Software System to review options you should consider regarding implementation.

 

An effective way to start the safety dance is for management to start asking questions and initiating health and safety into conversations across your business.

 

Now is the time to get the music started! If you need help choosing your song, please contact us. We would love to guide you on simple ways to energise your Safety Management System.

 

Do Health and Safety Procedures need to be formally documented to be real?

You’ll be relieved to hear that for many businesses, particularly smaller ones, the short answer is ‘no’.

 

Adhering to the health and safety legislation does not actually require procedures to be documented. Rather, it simply requires that these procedures are established and implemented in the workplace.

 

  • It requires your business to have a considered and consistent way of undertaking its operations.
  • It requires your business to communicate this established or official way of undertaking its operations to the relevant parties, whether this be: workers, contractors or visitors.
  • It requires your business to ensure that the identified relevant parties understand this established or official way of undertaking the operations.

 

It does not require formal documentation of this process. It certainly doesn’t require a folder of procedures doing nothing but collecting dust. But it does require some activity and doing on your part.

 

It is more important that your workplace has established a safe system of work, than have a safe system of work written down on a piece of paper that is unrealistic or not followed.

 

Part of this doing that is actually important is keeping accurate records. These are not to be confused with health and safety procedure documentation, that outline the processes you undertake. These records are evidence of the activities you have performed as part of your already established and implemented health and safety procedure. Read a detailed account of the typical workplace health and safety documentation and associated records here.

 

So, the good news is that if you have regular and working communication across all levels of your business you likely already have some health and safety procedures in place without you paying them much thought. You may not have an official document to prove it, but you could already be undertaking some of the fundamentals needed for a strong health and safety compliant workplace. Read more advice here about how to ensure you have a solid approach to health and safety in your workplace.

 

Having said all of this, there are some major benefits to having your health and safety procedure documented, even if you are a small business. Read more about what documenting your procedures can do for your business here. Documented procedures can;

 

  • be an effective way to bring all your employees, managers and works alike, onto the same page when it comes to implementing health and safety procedures.
  • remove confusion and ambiguity about Health and Safety.
  • help ensure that important health and safety tasks are still undertaken even if roles change or staff come and go.
  • open up opportunity for working with other businesses that require evidence of your documented health and safety procedure before engaging with you.

 

Whilst not a legislative requirement, documenting health and safety will encourage explicit consideration of how the business implements health and safety into their operations, the way that they work and with whom they work.

 

If you are unsure if your workplace has any health and safety procedures – documented or not – please contact us. We would love the opportunity to review how you are implementing health and safety across your business, and to help guide you towards getting it working well both for compliance with the legislative requirements and for your business.

 

Safety Management Systems: A “For Dummies” Guide

We are often asked ‘What is a Safety Management System?’ and usually the common follow up question is ‘Why do I need one?

These are good questions for small and large business owners alike to be asking. So, we thought we’d share a short synopsis of exactly what a Safety Management System is, how it works, and why you really should look at implementing one for the success and safety of your workplace.

Essentially, a Safety Management System is process that your business undertakes to manage and mitigate safety risks for the protection of your workers, contractors and visitors within the workplace. When implemented into business operations, this system helps you to continually improve the business’ safety performance and its compliance with health and safety legislation and standards, through sound, risk-based decision-making and practical action.

In doing so, the business establishes a safer working environment for workers, demonstrates strong corporate responsibility and, in turn, builds greater credibility as a mature organisation with whom your existing and prospective clients, employees and stakeholders will be happy to work.

How does a Safety Management System work exactly?

Well, it all starts with your business’ commitment to safety. Your businesses commitment is often demonstrated via a Health and Safety Policy – which is a general plan of intent which guides or influences future decisions around the health and safety of the people in your workplace. From there, comes the planning stage where you determine how you will achieve the intentions outlined by the Health and Safety Policy.

 

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

 

Once your business has established its health and safety plan, implementation of the plan follows. Implementation is where the health and safety impacts are considered across all aspects of your operations.

To ensure optimal health and safety and operations performance (one should not be independent of the other), implementation is followed by ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and a subsequent review phase. This forms a continuous cycle to ensure ongoing improvement.

Sounds daunting, but it’s actually not difficult to run once you’ve established the health and safety plan itself. Read more detail about how it works here.

 

Watch our health and safety 101 free course.

 

What are the benefits for my business?

Much research has shown clear links between strong Safety Management Systems, safe workplaces and long-term business efficiency. But in the interest of keeping this short and to the point, here are the top five reasons why a Safety Management System will benefit your workplace, no matter how small (or large):

  • A Safety Management System will create clarity and comfort for workers around roles, responsibilities and expectations from a safety point of view.
  • It could help save possible loss of revenue caused by workers injuries that lead to medical expenses, replacement labour, insurance claim expenses, workers’ compensation insurance premiums… – this list could continue.
  • It will improve your business’ opportunity to work with other organisations. As the business world becomes more sophisticated in terms of health and safety, it is becoming more and more common for those seeking partnerships and contracts to request evidence of strong health and safety practices, especially a Safety Management System, before they will do business.
  • It will help to guide your business through the process of effectively meeting legal health and safety requirements.
  • It will enhance your business’ reputation with your employees and customers. A business that looks after its people and customers is a business that people want to work for and with.

And, health and safety legislation and standards?

Yes, we did mention that and they do exist. The Australia and New Zealand standard (AS/NZS 4801:2001), in alignment with the International Standard (ISO 18001 / ISO 45001), provide guidance on what your workplace should consider when establishing a Safety Management System. It is encouraged that you are familiar with a standard if developing a Safety Management System and it makes good business sense to do so. Read more about The Safety Management System Standard here.

 

Need to know more about health and safety legislation in Australia? Read through; Health and safety legislation – the basic explanation

 

Looking for more detail on Safety Management System’s? Review our past blog: Safety Management Systems: A comprehensive overview.

Why you should transition your Safety Management System to an Online Safety System

Safety Management Systems whilst relatively easy to establish, can often be complex beasts to implement. Whilst it is easy for “safety people” to say that health and safety should fit seamlessly into the way that your business operates, the harsh reality is that for many organisations whether they be: large, medium, small, complex or basic – this is not the case.

The difficultly with Safety Management Systems is often compliance. Multiple outputs managed in multiple places. One place manages the training expiry output, another place manages the safety data sheet (SDS) expiry output, an alternative place manages the insurance expiry outputs for not only your business but your contractors (for example workers compensation, public liability and professional indemnity), there is an extra place that manages preventive and routine maintenance, whilst finally there is a different place that manages the scheduled dates for the implementation actions such as workplace inspections, meetings and audit schedules established by what was once an easy to establish Safety Management System. Sound familiar?

 

Safety Software works by allowing multiple outputs to be managed in a single place.

 

Safety Software works by allowing multiple outputs to be managed in a single place. It creates Why you should transition your safey management system to an online safety systemvisibility of tasks that are approaching, whilst allowing access to and reflection on what has been completed. It tames the complex beast by providing a single point of truth.

Think of Safety Software as your shopping list. It reminds, it prompts and it ensures that you achieve 100% of the goal that you have set out on. It then allows you to make that delicious dish that makes Matt Prestons’ cravat stand on end. I digress.

In addition to supporting your business to implement its Safety Management System, you know that the document your business went to great effort and expense to establish, Safety Software will create efficiencies in how your business operates, how you work, what management has visibility on, whilst allowing you to throw out a handful of forms and procedures – win. For example, as we all want a safe work environment, incident management is an obvious place to start.

Following the implementation of Safety Software, incidents are then reported online via a computer or phone (your call), emails will then be automatically sent to management at the exact time that the incident is reported, whilst at that exact time the Incident Register just generates – tick, tick and tick. No need to “find” forms, no need to make “advisory” phone calls or send “advisory” emails when you received the completed incident form; and, no need to “generate” (otherwise known as copy information into) registers – yes, yes, yes. Instead, allowing Safety Software to manage the incident management workflow will give you time to “lead”, rather than “do”, safety in your workplace.

 

Allowing Safety Software to manage the incident management workflow will give you time to “lead”, rather than “do”, safety in your workplace.

 

As workflows are generated by the Safety Software for the incident investigation, no longer is there a requirement for your business to have a lengthy document that advises on: incident close out timeframes; incident investigation requirements; or, document storage – because this is all just “done” within the Safety Software.

 

Watch our health and safety 101 free course

 

The Safety Software will also ensure that your workplace upholds its legislated duty to manage foreseeable workplace hazards by ensuring incident investigations are completed, as opposed to the form just being filed and forgotten about because the hazard is “too small” or “too hard” to control.

A Safety Management System that is a Safety Folder on the shelf, potentially red, potentially green, potentially collecting dust, has limitations in its capacity to improve health and safety at your workplace. If either the “doing” or “management” of safety is the hard part at your workplace, please contact us. We would love to discuss the options available to you to energise your Safety Management System, and tell you some tales about how Safety Software.

Effective Safety Management Systems for Business: Practical Advice

All too often we see businesses go to great effort or expense to establish health and safety policies and procedures, then fail to implement them. A safety folder on a shelf, potentially collecting dust, is doing very little to actually improve health and safety of the people in your workplace. It’s the practical implementation of what’s in that folder that will protect your workers.

Whether your organisation is big or small, regional or city-based, or whether your business works in construction, mining, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, health or professional services; here’s some key advice to best ensure your Safety Management System works for you:

 

  1. Get senior management involved

The business owner or executive team must play an active leadership role to encourage the involvement of workers in the Safety Management System. It must be a regular item on the senior management agenda. The health and safety of workers must be a priority. Management must walk the talk.

 

  1. Motivate and educate workers

Make sure the expectations and responsibilities placed on your workers are clear to them and relevant to what they do. Talk often. Ensure workers understand the value of the Safety Management System to them and their colleagues through training, clear direction and delegation of practical tasks. Keep it a regular item on their agenda also.

 

  1. Keep it updated

It just doesn’t work to create the Safety Management System and let it sit on the shelf. Business risks will shift as business activities change or new information comes to hand. Workers come and go. Your Safety Management System must be adjusted regularly over time to ensure it is in line with your business’ current condition. Learn more about a suggested continual improvement cycle here.

 

  1. Integrate it into core business operations

Safety should be integral to the way you do business; it should not be an ‘add-on’. Its value to your business is indisputable; it keeps you and your workers, contractors and clients safe. It will open up opportunities for more business. It elevates the professionalism of your organisation, and so on.

 

So, where possible combine and align health and safety with your overall business practices and established operational processes to make sure it sticks.

 

If the doing is the hard part for you, please contact us. We would love to discuss options available for you to get your Safety Management System working as efficiently as possible for your business and your workers.

 

Still not sure what a Safety Management System is? Review our past blog: Safety Management Systems: A-“For-Dummies” Guide.

Six reasons why managers are introducing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software to their business

There are a lot of benefits that can be gained from purchasing, commissioning and implementing a cloud-based OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System.

Below are the six (6) recurring views that business owners have raised with us when discussing how OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software has improved their business’ health and safety performance.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software gives me real-time visibility of the implementation of our Safety Management System. It is often difficult for managers to ‘hand on heart’ know the exact status of their health and safety procedures at any one point in time. It can be difficult to keep track of: (i) what has been completed; (ii) what is in the process of being completed; and (iii) what is overdue, at their workplace. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software provides a live overview of all of this.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software makes it so easy for us to implement our Safety Management System. Workers no longer have to waste time second-guessing themselves, using complicated spreadsheets, or handling messy paper files. With OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software everything that needs to be done is presented in a simple dashboard overview. Emails are automatically generated and sent to the safety administrators as each task deadline approaches. Once ‘signed-off’, the health and safety record is saved and filed automatically. And then system then lines up the next task for you. Easy.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software makes my health and safety reporting more accurate and consistent than before. Spreadsheets can be tricky things to manage. Multiple users, manual data entry or extraction, and poor user skills can result in errors and inconsistencies in the data set, and the subsequent reports. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software reduces the ‘human element’ and helps to ensure you have access to more accurate and consistent reporting. This means that you can make better-informed and more appropriate decisions that positively impact your operations.

 

What you need to consider when creating a safety management system for your workplace.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software helps me maintain safety management even when workers are on leave or they have left the business. Having ‘the person’ who coordinates ‘the safety’ in a workplace can be great. Well, for as long as they are in the workplace. But if ‘the person’ is suddenly on leave or has moved on, everything can come to a standstill. Especially if they were managing things in their personal diary or in personal computer files. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software solves this problem. Everything is kept in a consistent way and in one spot. And tasks can be transferred from one worker to another, meaning safety management can continue as planned even when ‘the safety person’ leaves.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software allows us to communicate better and act faster. Providing workers with access to online incident reporting and online hazard reporting means that workers can let their workplace know instantly if an issue arises. Paper report forms can be fine, but the delays in first finding the right form, completing the report, and ensuring it is reviewed by the right person means that businesses are not able to act as fast as they could or should. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software allows communication to flow more seamlessly between workers and managers so that positive action can be taken, fast.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software gives me easy access to the documentation I need. Typically, Health and Safety Manuals, Operating Procedures or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are stored in places that are not always useful or logical for workers or managers. They might be stored in multiple locations, on intranets, in folders, in the meal room, anywhere. But OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software stores Safety Management System documentation in the cloud so that it can be easily accessed online. Anywhere and anytime. In the workplace or on the road. As you need.

 

This overview outlines just some of the common ‘good news stories’ that business owners and managers have shared with us about the positive impact of their OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System. But there are likely to be many more benefits.

If you are thinking about how an OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System could help you better manage the health and safety of your workplace, please contact us. We’d love to help.

 

Want to know more about OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software? Have read through our blog outlining some of the common misconceptions about what OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software actually does for your business: Six things you should be aware of before implementing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software.

What are the main web-browsers and how do they differ?

A web browser or just browser is what you and the other 3 billion internet users access the internet through. It’s that page where you search for something or type in the ‘www’’ to go to a website that you are familiar with. On the web, when you navigate through pages of information, this is commonly known as web browsing or web surfing.

By definition a web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web – the World Wide Web being the ‘www’ we referred to earlier. Whilst there are many browsers available, these are the four leading ones: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

Web browsers are intuitive for both basic and advanced internet users. Whilst each of these web browsers is easy to download and free, the majority of us use only one browser – so it is important that you choose correctly!

So, here’s run down of the big four:

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is known for its speed and simplicity. This browser is developed by Google and was first released for Microsoft Windows in 2008. Today, Chrome is known to be the most popular web browser.

From a configuration standpoint, Chrome is the only browser that supports both Windows and Mac operating software, along with both Android and iOS phones.

Chrome was the first to think of the ‘omnibar’. The ‘omnibar’ combines your regular address bar (the bit where you type in a full website address) with your search bar (the bit where you enter in search terms usually on www.google.com). This functionality allows you to type URLs and Google searches in the same place (the search bar).

Firefox

Firefox was developed by Mozilla. Its first version was released in back in 2004 and it was quite a popular browser on the Internet. However, its popularity has been slowly fading over the years. Surprising, because they come up with features with cool names like the ‘awesome bar’. The ‘awesome bar’ is like the ‘omnibar’ but also remembers where you’ve been and guesses where you might be going. Intuitive.

Firefox is well-known for its stability, but its start-up process is not as fast as Chrome’s.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer is the big one – traditionally the most commonly used browser in the world. Although it’s share of usage is gradually dropping as Chrome’s is increasing. It’s the default browser that comes installed on most, if not all, PCs. This browser was developed by Microsoft back in 1995, at the same time that Windows was first created. Internet Explorer is also known as Microsoft Internet Explorer or just IE.

Internet Explorer provides a stable application that does not crash very often. However, it typically takes longer to load web pages than other browsers, and only supports the Windows operating system. The variation in versions of Internet Explorer often means that some software does not support all versions making it occasionally frustrating to use. These bugs occur in Internet Explorer at different times and fixing them can be time consuming.

Safari

Like Internet Explorers is to PCs, Safari is to Macs. It’s the default web browser installed on all brand new Macs. This web browser was produced and developed by Apple Inc. and was released in 2003. Safari is known for its simple and non-flashy approach. By removing the unnecessary bells and whistles of other browsers, Safari loads pages very quickly and is perfect for users that do not ask a lot of their web browsers. However, it sacrifices a lot of the customisation that other browsers provide.

The Verdict

Imagine that you have in one room a person speaking Chinese, and four interpreters translating what is being said into English. You would not expect to get the same translation, word for word, from each, would you? But you would expect to get the same meaning. The same ideas would get brought across. The same can be said for the four browsers overviewed above.

Browsers can be all about personal preference. But they can also be about providing a better interpretation of the page you are trying to view. A little trick is to make sure you have at least a couple of web browsers available to use. If a page isn’t loading correctly for you using one, it may work better on another. So, explore them and find the browsers that suit you and provide a better Internet experience.

What are your responsibilities for your pregnant workers?

A lot of employers get confused about exactly what their responsibilities are with their pregnant workers. How close to the birth do they go on maternity leave? Are they entitled to more leave for attending doctor’s appointments? Can their existing role be too dangerous for them now that they are pregnant? We’ll try to clear the air a little…

 

Employers must provide and maintain a working environment for their employees that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably possible. Of course, this also applies to your employees who are pregnant. But what a lot of employers don’t realise is that their ‘change of condition’ can also mean in some cases that there must be changes in the conditions of their working environment.

 

Possible risks for pregnant workers in the workplace

Here’s an indication of some of the more common activities and conditions in a work environment that are potentially hazardous to pregnant women:

 

  • Excessive noise (above the noise exposure standard) – Whilst the mother can wear hearing protection, her unborn baby cannot. Excessive noise can damage the developing ears of a baby in utero.
  • Manual handling – Heavy lifting and awkward postures during pregnancy can result in physical complications (abdominal separation, torn muscles or ligaments) or increased risk of falls due to the change in centre of gravity and balance.
  • Standing for long periods – Risk of thrombosis (blood clotting) and varicose veins increases for pregnant women standing for long periods – along with risk of fainting, especially in a hot environment.
  • Working with screen-based computer equipment – Physical changes that occur during pregnancy will mean that adjustments to workstation setup may be required over the course of the pregnancy to reduce stress placed on the lower back.
  • Lead and lead compounds – Lead poisoning is caused by breathing or swallowing lead. Lead can pass from a mother to her unborn baby and increase the risk for miscarriage, cause the baby to be born too early or too small, or result in learning or behavioural problems for the child.
  • Chemicals – Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will note details about each chemical and whether it is a health risk to pregnant workers.
  • Fumes (particularly chemical) – Fumes can make a pregnant woman feel ill, in addition to potentially affecting the development of her unborn child.
  • Shocks and vibration – Regular exposure to shocks, low frequency vibration or excessive movement may increase the risk of a miscarriage. Examples would be driving or riding in off-road vehicles or earth moving equipment.

Whilst some of these hazards won’t be a concern pre-pregnancy; pregnancy does change this. To manage the health and safety hazard exposures associated with pregnancy, the workplace should consult with the pregnant worker to ensure their pregnancy is effectively managed. To support the conversation, you may wish to invite comment from the workers doctor.

 

Working up until the date of birth

Pregnant workers may work right up until the expected date of birth of their child. However, under the National Employment Standards (NES), if a worker wishes to work in the last six weeks of their pregnancy they must provide you, their employer, with a medical certificate stating that they are fit to work, if asked. It is good to keep this in mind, in case you are concerned about their health and ability to perform their role in the last 6 weeks.

If the medical certificate is not provided within seven days, or if the certificate says that the employee is not fit for work, you may request your employee to take personal leave, such as sick leave, or start unpaid parental leave as soon as possible.

 

Additional time off for antenatal appointments

Employees are not entitled to additional time off work for pregnancy-related appointments by law. However, many workplaces remain quite flexible in this regard and allow their pregnant employees to make doctors appointments during the working day, as they need. It is just a matter of open discussion, ensuring that workloads remain well-managed and the pregnant employees health remains well-managed!

 

 

Implementing our OHS Software solution helps you to plan and manage necessary health and safety duties even when your employees go on leave… like maternity leave. Contact us to discuss how our software can help today.

More requests for ‘sit-stand’ workstations? Try something else…

Since the 60-Minutes story ‘Stand Up Australia – Is sitting down killing us?’ aired in September 2014 the following question has been on every manager’s mind “Do I now have to provide ‘sit-stand’ workstations to my workers?“.

 

To us, the sit-stand workstation phenomena is an example of safety and OHS being used irresponsibly. The misconception that managers must purchase sit-stand workstations to provide a safe working environment is simply NOT true. Yes, managers absolutely do have a duty to provide a safe workplace. But no, this does not mean they need to purchase a bunch of sit-stand workstations.

 

Think back ten years, can you recall the saddle seat? Do you recall fit-balls replacing office chairs? If you can’t, consider taking a look in your storeroom. You may find them in there. Perhaps the sit-stand desk will end up in there with them one day. Who knows?

 

We are not saying that there are not benefits to standing throughout the working day. We would be crazy to. The well-reported health hazards associated with prolonged sitting include (but, of course, are not limited to):

  • increased pressure on the spine,
  • increased strain on muscles and ligaments,
  • possible risks for some cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
  • decreased calorie-burning rate (to just 1 cal/min),
  • decreased enzymes that help break fat down (dropping by 90%).

 

A 38-hour working week means that work roughly contributes to 23% of a full week. If this is so, why has the focus only been on seated posture at work, not the other times we sit? Consider the amount we sit outside of work – in the car, on the bus, using the computer at home, watching TV, eating dinner, lunch, breakfast… the list could go on!

 

It is highly unlikely that a workplace would “force” their workers to stay seated all day. Why is this important? Because it means that sit-stand workstations are not your only reasonable method of control.

 

So, if sit-stand workstations have been under consideration in your workplace – try investigating some of the other methods that may be used to manage the hazard itself – static posture or prolonged sitting.

 

Many of the risks mentioned above can be minimised by simply moving out of a seated posture for two (2) minutes every hour. So, in consultation with your workers (including HSRs and Health and Safety Committee if they are in place), have a think about these ideas:

 

Standing meetings

  • Remove chairs from some meeting rooms
  • Provide benches at a raised height that workers can stand around

 

Walking meetings

  • Map out a 1.5 to 2 km circuit for a 30-minute meeting
  • Map out a 3 to 4 km circuit for a 60-minute meeting

 

Run an internal campaign to encourage a standing and moving culture. Fun ideas are:

  • Stand every time you answer a phone call
  • Stand every time you review or read documents
  • Stand when a colleague comes to your desk or office
  • Use to a kitchen, printer or amenity that is not the closest
  • Use telephones, speakers or calendars to set a ‘change’ posture reminder
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift

 

All of these options will support workers to move out of a static posture across the work day. They all support proactive management of the hazard, just like the sit-stand workstation. But what’s also great about these options are that they could all double as fantastic energising and team-building methods, ultimately leading to increased happiness and productivity in your workplace!

 

Why not give them a try?

 

Want to know more about what is actually involved for you to provide a safe workplace for your employees? Read our Safety Management Systems; A Comprehensive Overview post that covers the legislative requirements – you won’t see a sit-stand desk mentioned once.

Help your workers retain those vital skills

Training is an important component of your health and safety program. It ensures that your workers have the appropriate knowledge and skills to competently complete the requirements of their job safely. What training looks like will vary considerably from business to business. Like everything training can be hit and miss. Some training will be effective and engaging, while other training will send workers to sleep, leading to zero-impact and retention.

 

To ensure that you get to most out of your training, we have reviewed some training methods so your can align your programs to achieve the deliverable you are after. Here, we have taken a look at blocked versus random practice; which you’ve probably come across in a sporting context before. Here’s how they work when learning a new skill like hitting a ball;

 

  • Blocked practice: Learn the skill from several scenarios by acting out Scenario A 10 times, before moving onto Scenario B, and then onto Scenario C.
  • Random practice: Learn the skill from several scenarios by acting out Scenario A once, Scenario B once and Scenario C once and repeat this 10 times

 

Ok, so now which one do you think is more effective in helping the skill be retained? The answer is dependent on whether you were assessing the performance after the initial training, or the performance at a later date.

 

Blocked practice should produce better performance than random practice during the initial training. It is an effective way for the participant to ‘understand’ the components of the individual skill. However, once the initial components of the skill are understood, it is random practice that will improve the participant’s ability to retain the skill.

 

Why? Because during random practice, the participant is required to work through the whole skill (from start to finish), as they switch between the different scenarios; rather than making minor adjustments to the skill, using their knowledge from their past performance. In brief, this causes more brain stimulation and activity. More brain activity results in better long-term learning.

 

So, to help your workers really understand the skills to undertake their job safely, your health and safety training should consider shifting from blocked training scenarios to a more randomised approach if this reflects the work that they are undertaking. Whilst challenging for your workers initially – “mixing things up” will improve their skills, help them recall the “skill” in the future, ultimately lead to a safer workplace.

 

 

Our OHS Software solution helps you manage your worker’s training better. Contact us to find out how.

 

 

Six things you should be aware of before implementing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software

OHS Software, WHS Software, or Safety Software especially cloud-based software, is the future of business operations and is certainly the direction that many businesses are going in these days.

There is plenty of commentary available around why your business should implement a cloud-based OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System. And we agree, of course. But, this commentary is often one-sided. So, we thought we’d outline a few things that you should be aware of before you invest time and money into commissioning an OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System. Here goes:

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software and the Safety Management System will not automatically make your business ‘safer’. It is the implementation of the OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software and Safety Management System that will provide your business with structure, clarity and visibility. This will make your business safer.

 

  1. Establishing an OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System will not ‘protect’ your business from prosecution should there be an incident or injury at your workplace. If there is an incident or injury at your workplace, the regulator will want to understand how your business could have identified and managed the hazard. It won’t care that you have a cloud-based OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System or not. The OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System is the tool that your workplace uses to support the management of health and safety in your workplace.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software requires both time and resources to be successfully implemented into your business. Yes, OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software can create efficiencies in helping you manage your workplace health and safety. But these efficiencies will only be seen if you are already implementing a Safety Management System in your business, prior to purchasing the OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software. If you are doing very little now in terms health and safety procedure, you need to be aware that implementing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software will mean that your business will have to find both the time and resources to activate your Safety Management System. Having said that, the good news is that if you implement OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software  you will be one step ahead by having one of the best tools in place to help you manage your Safety Management System.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software Systems will not do everything you want them to do. The smooth sales pitch at the start is exactly that; a sales pitch. “OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software can do everything you need.” But businesses will often have tasks specific to their workplace, or will carry out tasks in a unique way. As cloud-based OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software  Systems are designed to support a variety of users and businesses, any changes or modifications implemented must to be applicable and relevant to all businesses – not just yours.

 

  1. Implementing an OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System will require your workers to have some computer literacy. If your workers are unfamiliar with computers and/or have literacy issues – then this is something to consider. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software is not complex software to use but it will require some basic understanding of computer use, such as using email and Facebook. Be careful not to cause extra anxiety around safety with your workers, and have a plan for training and guidance in place before you implement OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software .

 

  1. Using OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software will make your Safety Management System all of a sudden very visible. Completion of tasks in the OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software , whether this be inspections, meetings, audits, training expiry or safety data sheet (SDS) updates, will very quickly become much more obvious and real to you. If health and safety has been pushed to the side in the past, be ready for it to very much come to the forefront.

 

It’s important to wrap up here by saying that, despite the above notes, the benefits of well-planned and implemented OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software still far outweigh the negatives for many businesses. We believe that OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software is the way forward. Read more about some of the key reason’s managers are choosing to implement OHS software, WHS Software or Safety Software in their businesses here.

 

If you understand the pros and cons of OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software and are ready to bring the benefits to your business, we’d love to here from you. Please contact us.

Safety Management Systems: A comprehensive overview

What is a Safety Management System?

 

A Safety Management System is a systematic approach to managing safety. It should outline the approach and processes that your business takes to manage foreseeable and unforeseeable hazards, to prevent incidents, injuries and to minimise risks.

 

When implemented into a business’ operations, a Safety Management System should help the business to continually improve its safety performance and compliance to health and safety legislation and standards.

 

In doing so, the Safety Management System should support a business to establish a safer working environment that protect employees, contractors and visitors at the workplace by eliminating, or better managing, health and safety hazards.

Safety Management System Components and Elements

 

The Australian/New Zealand Standard: AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Specification with guidance for use (AS/NZS4801), sets out the requirements your workplace should aim to meet for an effective Health and Safety Management System. This Standard is in line with the international standard and has been designed to work for organisations of all sizes and from across all sectors.

 

Start with our 100% free safety software

 

 

Within AS/NZS4801 there are five (5) clear stages detailed for effective Safety Management Systems. These five stages form a continual cycle of improvement. Consultation between management and workers, workers and managers, managers and managers, and workers and workers is a fundamental at each stage.

 

  1. Management Endorsement and Commitment to Health and Safety Policy. The Health and Safety Policy is a general plan of intent which guides or influences future decisions. Workplaces follow the lead of management; if management has a low focus on health and safety, health and safety will be a low focus of the workers.
  2. Planning. Outlines how the business will deliver the Health and Safety Policy, and Objectives and Targets, to ensure hazards arising from work activities are identified so that risks can be assessed and then controlled. The planning stage should review the organisational structure, business relationships, worker, contractor and visitor accountabilities, leading to the documentation of policies and procedures. A target without a plan is just a wish.
  3. Implementation. Implement the plan by developing the capabilities and support mechanisms necessary to achieve the Health and Safety Policy, and Objectives and Targets.
  4. Measurement and Evaluation. Measure, monitor and evaluate health and safety performance to determine the effectiveness of risk management and, if necessary, take preventative and corrective action.
  5. Review and Improvement. Review to continually improve the Safety Management System with the objective of improving health and safety performance.

 

safety management system

 

What are the Benefits of a Safety Management System?

 

Research has shown clear links between good Safety Management Systems, safe workplaces and long-term business efficiency. Establishing a Safety Management System will benefit your workplace, no matter how small (or large), by:

  • Creating clarity around responsibility and expectations. This will help your business create a safer work environment.
  • Saving your business $$$. How? It makes sense that a safer workplace should lead to a reduction in injuries. By pre-empting injuries, your business saves money on medical expenses, the injured employee’s wages, replacement labour, training other persons to complete the injured worker’s tasks, insurance claim excesses and increased workers’ compensation insurance premium – this list could continue.
  • Improving your business’ opportunities to work with other organisations. As organisations better understand their health and safety responsibilities, mature organisations favour purchasing products or services from businesses with a Safety Management System. You wouldn’t employee a worker who does not have the capability to do the inherent requirements of the job, why would an organisation favour a business that hasn’t considered its health and safety responsibilities?
  • Guiding your business on how it can effectively meet its legal health and safety requirements.
  • Enhancing your business’ reputation with your workers and customers. A business that looks after its people and customers is a business that people want to work for and buy from.

 

 

 

 

Effective Safety Management Systems

What is a safety management systemLarge, medium, small, complex or basic businesses’ Safety Management System should:

  • Be endorsed by Senior Management. To be effective, the business owner or Executive Team must play a leadership role and involve workers in the implementation of the Safety Management System.
  • Make the expectations placed on workers relevant to your business activities, visible, clear and easy to understand.
  • Be regularly updated! Business risks will change as business activities change and/or more information comes to hand. Your business’ Safety Management System needs to be agile, it needs to adjust. Reviewing and updating your Safety Management System will facilitate improvement and support your Safety Management System being appropriate for all circumstances.
  • Where possible, align with the business’ overall management system and processes. Safety should be a way that you do business; it should not be an ‘add-on’.

 

Most importantly, your Safety Management System should be implemented. Too often we see businesses that have gone to great effort or expense in establishing policies and procedures, then forgetting the end game which is to introduce the Safety Management System into their operations. A safety folder on the shelf, potentially collecting dust, is limited in its ability to improve health and safety for your workers.

 

If the ‘doing’ is the hard part, please contact us. We would love to discuss options available to you to energise your Safety Management System.