employee engagement

Our journey towards B Corp Certification

This week, we started our B Corp Certification Journey.

 

We sat down to complete the B Corp Impact Assessment tool to see how Safety Champion stacks up as a socially and environmentally responsible business. And, wow, what a process it was.

 

Not exactly easy or fast – the assessment really makes you see just how much we could all be doing in our workplaces to support the social and environmental health of business in general.

 

 

 

 

Now, you may be reading this wondering what a B Corp Certification is. If so, a brief description for you;

 

A B Corp Certification is a certification awarded to a business that meets and upholds the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

 

In other words, it’s for-profit business that pledges to balance profit and purpose, measuring and improving its impact on its workers and customers, and the community and environment around it.

 

 

Businesses you know that are already B Corps

Some fantastic, purpose-driven businesses are Certified B Corporations. Kathmandu, KeepCup, CultureAmp – to name a few.

 

It’s great to see so many Australian-based businesses like us finding their way into the list as well – including a few of our very own Safety Champion customers like T2!

 

certified b corp companies

 

 

Our purpose-driven work in health and safety

Now for us, as a health and safety company, we were feeling pretty confident as we set out to complete the assessment. We already feel like we have really clear purpose and make a positive contribution towards the wellness of others.

 

After all, it’s why we work in this industry in the first place. It’s in our DNA to support the businesses we work with, and each other, to be healthier and safer at work.

 

Plus, ethics plays a big role in our work as consultants. As Professional Members of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety we are duty borne to hold ourselves and our practices against the requirements of the Code of Ethics.

 

This places obligations on us to practice and work in an objective manner; follow recognised OHS principles as specified in the relevant federal or state/territory legislation; and realise the lives, health and welfare of individuals may be dependent upon our judgement.

 

 

Yet, was it enough?

As it turns out, we had to demonstrate more. To become a B Corp Certified business, it isn’t quite enough to simply work in an industry that already has social purpose.

 

What were we doing that was over and above? And what were we doing to really encourage positive change for our team members, our customers and elsewhere… that is, beyond our core service offering.

 

The impact assessment asked us about things like;

  • results from our employee engagement surveys,
  • how we give back to the community around us,
  • what environmental targets we have in place – and how we track them,
  • how transparent we are with financial information,
  • our policies and procedures,
  • and more. Yes – it’s a lot.

 

Established initiatives but more to go…

Thankfully, we found we were well on our well and scoring points in many places beyond our work in health, safety and wellbeing.

Based on the efforts we’ve gone to over the past year or so to establish more meaning, purpose and drive in our business, we had already set in place many of initiatives that help demonstrate we are a business that cares about people, planet, and profit.

 

A few of the areas that put us in good stead for certification;

  • We offer a 20% discount for non-profits listed on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, so that they can utilise more of their funds on their purpose and cause

  • We developed a free safety software plan so that those in our community without the financial means can still access a fantastic tool to help keep their workers safer from harm at work

  • We regularly provide publicly available resources and advice to guide people towards success in safety – including monthly webinars, blogs, and guidance documents.

  • We’ve worked pretty hard establishing a clear mission, vision and values under which we work – along with supporting documents. We have documented Operational Manuals to provide clarity and transparency on our internal processes.

 

Whilst we haven’t yet submitted our formal application to become a B Corp yet, the results of the impact assessment let us know we’re in a good place to continue to this next step.

 

Yes, we have some areas to work on to improve things here and there, but it wouldn’t be a strong certification without it.

 

 

Learn more about Certified B Corporations here: https://www.bcorporation.com.au/

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/

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?

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/

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.

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.

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!

 

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.

 

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!

 

Join our upcoming webinar. Register now.

 

  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.

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!

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.

 

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.

 

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!

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.