habits

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.

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?

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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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 your health and safety management system, contact us today!

 

 


 

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.

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)

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.