OHS Software

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

– Craig Salter

Action OHS Consulting Director & Safety Champion Founder

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

– Craig Salter

Action OHS Consulting Director & Safety Champion Founder

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Just start

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

 

Stay very close to your customer

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

 

Never assume you’re done

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Four ways to provide better support to your First Aid Officers

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Tips for safer manual handling practices in your workplace

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

 

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

 

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

 

Get your free manual handling safety promotion poster

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

What don’t you know about manual handling?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Weight of the products.

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

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

 

Height of the products.

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

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

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

 

 

How to start with better practices today

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

How to tame your documents…

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

How to tame your records…

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Managing Hazards – How do you manage:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

After more detailed information about this?

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

 

 

How to prevent stress from escalating in your workplace.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How to actually achieve your OHS targets in 2017

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Some like it hot, others get heat stress…

According to the weather gurus, we are approaching another steamy, hot summer in Australia. When are we not, right?! But now is the time to refresh your memory about some of the key ways to protect your employees and contractors working outdoors or in hot conditions from the risks of heat stress.

 

Heat stress occurs when the body cannot sufficiently cool itself. While it can occur all year round in some working environments, risks increase in summer as ambient temperature and humidity rises, along with changes in air-movement, radiant heat, clothing selections, and physical exertion.

 

Signs and symptoms of heat stress include feeling sick, nauseous, dizzy or weak. Workers may also feel clumsy, collapse or experience convulsions.

 

If these symptoms occur, workers should immediately seek first-aid or medical assistance, rest in a cool and well-ventilated area, and drink cool fluids.

 

Impaired workers are not safe workers. If you know the hazard potential, you must manage the hazard exposure.

 

But prevention first! Heat stress can be minimised through the consideration and implementation of a number of controls. Here are a few pointers from us:

 

  • Rescheduling tasks to ensure that anything requiring greater physical exertion is performed during the cooler parts of the day.
  • Identifying methods to rotate workers between tasks that occur in hot conditions, such as up skilling workers to job-share.
  • Identifying and procuring correct mechanical aids or plant that may reduce physical exertion, or, better still, eliminate the requirement to work in the heat.
  • Ensure your workers are wearing appropriate clothing such as light, loose fitting, and preferably cotton clothing. Outdoor workers should be provided with PPE against UV radiation, including a wide brim hat, loose fitting, long-sleeved collared shirt and long pants, sunglasses and SPF sunscreen of 15 or higher.
  • Providing fans or installing air conditioners to reduce air temperature and increase air flow.

 

Remember that the health and safety legislation requires you to provide a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health and safety of your workers and contractors. So, think about adopting some of these ways to help prevent your workers from getting heat stress this summer and all year round.

 

 

Heat stress isn’t the only kind of stress, right? If managing your health and safety obligations is causing you unnecessary stress, why not think implementing our simple and affordable health and safety software to help take the pressure off! Contact us today.

Go paperless with your OHS practices

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, finding a lost document will cost a company $122 on average. It is also estimated that 7.5% of all company documents are lost completely. So, let’s assume your company works with 1,000 documents a year – a modest figure. On average, that’s 20 documents a week, 4 documents per working day. That would mean, about 75 of those documents are doomed to be lost. And if you or your workers go about trying to find those documents, that’s a cost to your company of around $9,150 per year!

 

Ok, ok… agreed, it’s very unlikely that you or your workers will be actively looking behind cupboards with a magnifying glass (think Scooby-Doo) for every lost file. However, investigating paper filing and the potential monetary cost associated with this, allows you to consider methods that your workplace could operate more effectively and efficiently.

 

These days, business is all about streamlining processes and systems to increase productivity. We use more software, apps, devices, and access the internet more often than ever before. Our workers are tech-savvy and some of them almost demand that their employers keep up with new technology and innovative solutions that make their work life easier. And our workers, when it really comes down to it, are our business.

 

We use more software, apps, devices, and access the internet more often than ever before.

 

So, keep them happy, engaged and effective in this rapidly tech-focused world! Think about making the switch to paperless in all aspects of your business. Think about the slow hard copy filing processes, the off-site storage costs (a side note; retention periods for important documentation are long, if not becoming longer), the paper, ink and toner bill, and of course the environment! We promise you that the digital solutions to the old paper ways will be out there, regardless of what business you are in.

 

Cloud-based OHS Software to help you manage your occupational health and safety duties is one such example of a product that is already available to integrate into your business. It will streamline those messy paper trails. It will file and store all the records you need to keep safe in the cloud. It will make monitoring procedure and reporting just so much easier. And it will likely make your employees happy as it makes fulfilling their OHS duties that much easier.

 

If you are not there already, it really is time to consider going paperless. So, contact us to shift your OHS practices from the old hard copy ways to a simple, streamlined, cloud-based OHS Software solution.

What’s the difference between documents and records anyway?

It is important to understand that there is a difference between health and safety procedure documents and health and safety procedure records. For many small businesses, documented health and safety procedures are not vital to be in compliance with the legislation. Read more about this here. But health and safety records are most certainly required as they provide evidence of the activities you have performed as part of your health and safety procedure. These records must be kept by your business, just as receipts are kept for the taxman.

Here’s a list of the typical workplace documentation and the associated records that must be kept.

 

Typical Workplace Documentation Associated Records
Hazard and Risk Management Procedure

Workplace Inspection Form

Risk Assessment Template

Completed Workplace Inspection Form

Completed Risk Assessments

Training and Competency Procedure

Induction Training Checklist

Completed Induction Training Checklist

Training Certificates

Consultation and Communication Procedure

Terms of Reference

Consultation Statement

Meeting Minutes Template

Meeting Agenda

Meeting Minutes

Incident Management Procedure

Incident Report Form

Completed Incident Report Form

Photos of the Incident Site

Incident Investigation

RTW Plans / Medical Certificates

 

You may be wondering what happens with all of these records you need to keep. Well, these records must be kept by your business as evidence that you have complied with the legislation and kept a safe working environment for your staff. Generally speaking, with the exception of incident and injury records (which your business should keep, practically forever), your health and safety records should be kept for a minimum of 7 years. Although we advise that you check the exact timeframes and requirements of record keeping with your regulator.

Don’t wait for the storm to pass, dance in the rain

Many businesses delay initialising their Health and Safety Management System for a number of reasons. Some of the commons ones we hear about every day are:

  • We don’t know where to start – I will look into it later.
  • We are too busy right now (sometimes incredibly busy) – so, our workers need to focus on our operations.
  • We don’t have the budget right now – let’s wait until the next financial year.
  • We are approaching a ‘blackout period’ – our workers need to focus on business themes.

So, why is delaying such an issue? Well, it’s an issue because all businesses have a legislated health and safety duty to provide a safe workplace. And, yes, this means right now, not later, not when you have the budget available, and not when you have time to finally turn your attention to health and safety.

Delaying the implementation of your Safety Management System or not ensuring that your workplace is inherently safe for your employees, is a breach of your business’ explicitly legislated health and safety duty ‘to provide a safe workplace’. No matter how hard it is ‘to provide a safe workplace’, and no matter what your business’ current operational focuses are – your business can’t wait for the storm to pass. Implementation of your Safety Management System and safety practices must start now!

 

To dance in the rain, health and safety needs to be part of the way that your business operates.

 

Given that the management of workplace health and safety is a legislative requirement, it follows that non-compliance can result in prosecution. Health and safety prosecution can be issued against: the business, the business’ management or the business’ workers, for breaches of the legislation. Maximum penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation (as at July 2016) in Australia are:

  • Corporation / Business: $3,000,000;
  • Officer (i.e. Owner/Executive Manger/Senior Manager): $600,000 & 5 years jail;
  • Workers and other persons $300,000 & 5 years jail.

So, now might be the right time to learn to dance in the rain and move ahead with your workplace health and safety management after all.

To make your health and safety management successful, it must be a prominent part of the way that your business operates. If health and safety is considered an ‘add-on’ to your operations, then safety will likely be an afterthought for your staff and your business’ safety culture will probably be low. The obvious danger with this is that the health and safety of your employees and workplace visitors is not actually protected all that well. And this is what it is all about.

To build health and safety into the core operations of your business, consider the following ideas:

  • Operational meetings and toolbox meetings. Add an item to your agenda that allows your staff to bring attention to hazards in the workplace or raises other health and safety issues for discussion.
  • Audit programs. If your workplace conducts business audits, like financial or stocktake audits, add a handful of ‘health and safety’ criteria into the mix.
  • Procurement processes. Why not manage the risks before purchasing plant or equipment? This will also save your business money by reducing the cost of retrofitting controls in the future.
  • Contractor engagement and management processes. Before employing new staff, you undoubtedly ensure that your candidate is competent, has experience, and fits your business culture, right? So, why wouldn’t you do the same with your contractors? 
  • Workplace design. Similar to procurement of equipment, pre-plan a little. Consider future operational growth, the requirements outlined within the health and safety standard, and optimising workflows. Just because it is the way you do it now, does not mean it’s the most efficient way or that it will be right in the future. With big change, comes big opportunity.

This is not an exhaustive list, however, it provides a few simple initiatives you can implement now to improve health and safety management within your business’ operations.

A “For Dummies” guide on what are Safety Management Systems can be found by following the link. In addition, to support effective implementation, you may want to review the following blogs we have previously posted What are Health and Safety Procedures for information on safety processes you should look to establish in your workplace, and/or Why You Should Transition your Safety Management System to an Online Safety Software System to review options you should consider regarding implementation.

 

An effective way to start the safety dance is for management to start asking questions and initiating health and safety into conversations across your business.

 

Now is the time to get the music started! If you need help choosing your song, please contact us. We would love to guide you on simple ways to energise your Safety Management System.

 

Why you should transition your Safety Management System to an Online Safety System

Safety Management Systems whilst relatively easy to establish, can often be complex beasts to implement. Whilst it is easy for “safety people” to say that health and safety should fit seamlessly into the way that your business operates, the harsh reality is that for many organisations whether they be: large, medium, small, complex or basic – this is not the case.

The difficultly with Safety Management Systems is often compliance. Multiple outputs managed in multiple places. One place manages the training expiry output, another place manages the safety data sheet (SDS) expiry output, an alternative place manages the insurance expiry outputs for not only your business but your contractors (for example workers compensation, public liability and professional indemnity), there is an extra place that manages preventive and routine maintenance, whilst finally there is a different place that manages the scheduled dates for the implementation actions such as workplace inspections, meetings and audit schedules established by what was once an easy to establish Safety Management System. Sound familiar?

 

Safety Software works by allowing multiple outputs to be managed in a single place.

 

Safety Software works by allowing multiple outputs to be managed in a single place. It creates Why you should transition your safey management system to an online safety systemvisibility of tasks that are approaching, whilst allowing access to and reflection on what has been completed. It tames the complex beast by providing a single point of truth.

Think of Safety Software as your shopping list. It reminds, it prompts and it ensures that you achieve 100% of the goal that you have set out on. It then allows you to make that delicious dish that makes Matt Prestons’ cravat stand on end. I digress.

In addition to supporting your business to implement its Safety Management System, you know that the document your business went to great effort and expense to establish, Safety Software will create efficiencies in how your business operates, how you work, what management has visibility on, whilst allowing you to throw out a handful of forms and procedures – win. For example, as we all want a safe work environment, incident management is an obvious place to start.

Following the implementation of Safety Software, incidents are then reported online via a computer or phone (your call), emails will then be automatically sent to management at the exact time that the incident is reported, whilst at that exact time the Incident Register just generates – tick, tick and tick. No need to “find” forms, no need to make “advisory” phone calls or send “advisory” emails when you received the completed incident form; and, no need to “generate” (otherwise known as copy information into) registers – yes, yes, yes. Instead, allowing Safety Software to manage the incident management workflow will give you time to “lead”, rather than “do”, safety in your workplace.

 

Allowing Safety Software to manage the incident management workflow will give you time to “lead”, rather than “do”, safety in your workplace.

 

As workflows are generated by the Safety Software for the incident investigation, no longer is there a requirement for your business to have a lengthy document that advises on: incident close out timeframes; incident investigation requirements; or, document storage – because this is all just “done” within the Safety Software.

 

 

The Safety Software will also ensure that your workplace upholds its legislated duty to manage foreseeable workplace hazards by ensuring incident investigations are completed, as opposed to the form just being filed and forgotten about because the hazard is “too small” or “too hard” to control.

 

A Safety Management System that is a Safety Folder on the shelf, potentially red, potentially green, potentially collecting dust, has limitations in its capacity to improve health and safety at your workplace. If either the “doing” or “management” of safety is the hard part at your workplace, please contact us. We would love to discuss the options available to you to energise your Safety Management System, and tell you some tales about how Safety Software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six reasons why managers are introducing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software to their business

There are a lot of benefits that can be gained from purchasing, commissioning and implementing a cloud-based OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System.

Below are the six (6) recurring views that business owners have raised with us when discussing how OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software has improved their business’ health and safety performance.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software gives me real-time visibility of the implementation of our Safety Management System. It is often difficult for managers to ‘hand on heart’ know the exact status of their health and safety procedures at any one point in time. It can be difficult to keep track of: (i) what has been completed; (ii) what is in the process of being completed; and (iii) what is overdue, at their workplace. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software provides a live overview of all of this.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software makes it so easy for us to implement our Safety Management System. Workers no longer have to waste time second-guessing themselves, using complicated spreadsheets, or handling messy paper files. With OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software everything that needs to be done is presented in a simple dashboard overview. Emails are automatically generated and sent to the safety administrators as each task deadline approaches. Once ‘signed-off’, the health and safety record is saved and filed automatically. And then system then lines up the next task for you. Easy.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software makes my health and safety reporting more accurate and consistent than before. Spreadsheets can be tricky things to manage. Multiple users, manual data entry or extraction, and poor user skills can result in errors and inconsistencies in the data set, and the subsequent reports. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software reduces the ‘human element’ and helps to ensure you have access to more accurate and consistent reporting. This means that you can make better-informed and more appropriate decisions that positively impact your operations.

 

What you need to consider when creating a safety management system for your workplace.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software helps me maintain safety management even when workers are on leave or they have left the business. Having ‘the person’ who coordinates ‘the safety’ in a workplace can be great. Well, for as long as they are in the workplace. But if ‘the person’ is suddenly on leave or has moved on, everything can come to a standstill. Especially if they were managing things in their personal diary or in personal computer files. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software solves this problem. Everything is kept in a consistent way and in one spot. And tasks can be transferred from one worker to another, meaning safety management can continue as planned even when ‘the safety person’ leaves.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software allows us to communicate better and act faster. Providing workers with access to online incident reporting and online hazard reporting means that workers can let their workplace know instantly if an issue arises. Paper report forms can be fine, but the delays in first finding the right form, completing the report, and ensuring it is reviewed by the right person means that businesses are not able to act as fast as they could or should. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software allows communication to flow more seamlessly between workers and managers so that positive action can be taken, fast.

 

  1. OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software gives me easy access to the documentation I need. Typically, Health and Safety Manuals, Operating Procedures or Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) are stored in places that are not always useful or logical for workers or managers. They might be stored in multiple locations, on intranets, in folders, in the meal room, anywhere. But OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software stores Safety Management System documentation in the cloud so that it can be easily accessed online. Anywhere and anytime. In the workplace or on the road. As you need.

 

This overview outlines just some of the common ‘good news stories’ that business owners and managers have shared with us about the positive impact of their OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System. But there are likely to be many more benefits.

If you are thinking about how an OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software System could help you better manage the health and safety of your workplace, please contact us. We’d love to help.

 

Want to know more about OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software? Have read through our blog outlining some of the common misconceptions about what OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software actually does for your business: Six things you should be aware of before implementing OHS Software, WHS Software or Safety Software.

What are your responsibilities for your pregnant workers?

A lot of employers get confused about exactly what their responsibilities are with their pregnant workers. How close to the birth do they go on maternity leave? Are they entitled to more leave for attending doctor’s appointments? Can their existing role be too dangerous for them now that they are pregnant? We’ll try to clear the air a little…

 

Employers must provide and maintain a working environment for their employees that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably possible. Of course, this also applies to your employees who are pregnant. But what a lot of employers don’t realise is that their ‘change of condition’ can also mean in some cases that there must be changes in the conditions of their working environment.

 

Possible risks for pregnant workers in the workplace

Here’s an indication of some of the more common activities and conditions in a work environment that are potentially hazardous to pregnant women:

 

  • Excessive noise (above the noise exposure standard) – Whilst the mother can wear hearing protection, her unborn baby cannot. Excessive noise can damage the developing ears of a baby in utero.
  • Manual handling – Heavy lifting and awkward postures during pregnancy can result in physical complications (abdominal separation, torn muscles or ligaments) or increased risk of falls due to the change in centre of gravity and balance.
  • Standing for long periods – Risk of thrombosis (blood clotting) and varicose veins increases for pregnant women standing for long periods – along with risk of fainting, especially in a hot environment.
  • Working with screen-based computer equipment – Physical changes that occur during pregnancy will mean that adjustments to workstation setup may be required over the course of the pregnancy to reduce stress placed on the lower back.
  • Lead and lead compounds – Lead poisoning is caused by breathing or swallowing lead. Lead can pass from a mother to her unborn baby and increase the risk for miscarriage, cause the baby to be born too early or too small, or result in learning or behavioural problems for the child.
  • Chemicals – Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will note details about each chemical and whether it is a health risk to pregnant workers.
  • Fumes (particularly chemical) – Fumes can make a pregnant woman feel ill, in addition to potentially affecting the development of her unborn child.
  • Shocks and vibration – Regular exposure to shocks, low frequency vibration or excessive movement may increase the risk of a miscarriage. Examples would be driving or riding in off-road vehicles or earth moving equipment.

Whilst some of these hazards won’t be a concern pre-pregnancy; pregnancy does change this. To manage the health and safety hazard exposures associated with pregnancy, the workplace should consult with the pregnant worker to ensure their pregnancy is effectively managed. To support the conversation, you may wish to invite comment from the workers doctor.

 

Working up until the date of birth

Pregnant workers may work right up until the expected date of birth of their child. However, under the National Employment Standards (NES), if a worker wishes to work in the last six weeks of their pregnancy they must provide you, their employer, with a medical certificate stating that they are fit to work, if asked. It is good to keep this in mind, in case you are concerned about their health and ability to perform their role in the last 6 weeks.

If the medical certificate is not provided within seven days, or if the certificate says that the employee is not fit for work, you may request your employee to take personal leave, such as sick leave, or start unpaid parental leave as soon as possible.

 

Additional time off for antenatal appointments

Employees are not entitled to additional time off work for pregnancy-related appointments by law. However, many workplaces remain quite flexible in this regard and allow their pregnant employees to make doctors appointments during the working day, as they need. It is just a matter of open discussion, ensuring that workloads remain well-managed and the pregnant employees health remains well-managed!

 

 

Implementing our OHS Software solution helps you to plan and manage necessary health and safety duties even when your employees go on leave… like maternity leave. Contact us to discuss how our software can help today.