risks

Is workaholism a real thing?

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

 

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

 

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

Read more about mental health and wellbeing at work:

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

What on earth is psychological safety?

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 pay attention to health and safety prosecutions data…

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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?

 

 

Are your workers often working off-site?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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.

 

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 HazardPotential Solution
Excess water at the entry to your office on wet daysAt 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 spillsHave 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 storedStore 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)

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Four ways to provide better support to your First Aid Officers

Many businesses these days have got some great OHS/WHS practices going on, realising the huge importance of keeping their employees healthy and safe.

 

It’s more and more common to see health and safety related posters up in workplace tearooms, clearly marked and fully stocked first aid kits, and appointed fire wardens and first aid officers.

 

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

 

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, it’s having a First Aid Officer in place that businesses are pretty good at.

 

 

 

What to know about the First Aid Officer

 

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.

 

 

Tips and ideas for supporting First Aiders

 

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.

 

 

Get it on the agenda!

 

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.

 

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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: 

 

 

Tips for safer manual handling practices in your workplace

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

 

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

 

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

 

Get your free manual handling safety promotion poster

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

What don’t you know about manual handling?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Weight of the products.

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

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

 

Height of the products.

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

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

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

 

 

How to start with better practices today

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Ways to reduce the risks of fatigue in your workplace.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Talk to your workers

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

 

Change your workplace culture

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

 

Provide workers with information

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

 

Establish a Driving for Work Policy

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

 

Sleep disorder screenings

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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