document control

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.

 

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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.

 

 

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!

 

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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!

 

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.

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.

 

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.