Training

5 ways leaders can get safety really moving in 2019

You may have read our recent blog Safety just won’t happen without effective leadership a little while ago. In that article we argued that for safety culture to work and work well, it needs the support and influence of the leaders in an organisation. This is one of the most critical components for the assurance of an effective safety culture.

 

We’d almost go so far as to confidently say, if you don’t have the support of your leadership team as you develop and implement safety practices, you’re up for a hard slog. Sorry to say – and it breaks our heart as super pro-safety people – but we’ve seen it time and time again. Your leaders must be in full support of your safety program if you want your safety culture to really thrive.

 

So – what can you do about building a stronger safety culture?

If you are a leader, or you have great influence on the leaders in your workplace, read on. These are the behaviours that we’d suggest the leaders in your organisation should take on to promote safety excellence:

 

1. Set expectations.

Just like leaders do in other facets of business, leaders must translate their vision for safety into clear expectations and accountabilities, and filter this through all levels of the organisation. This provides a platform to enforce rewards, recognition and consequences, which will ultimately drive better behaviours and stronger safety culture.

 

2. Educate and train.

Leaders must provide education, training and resources to their people to ensure that employees are fully prepared and ready for excellence in safety performance. It is not enough to set the goals and then leave staff without the tools they need to succeed. Education starts at induction, then training should consider both operational specific skills and knowledge (i.e. how to do a work task) and process specific skills and knowledge (i.e. how to ensure policies or procedures are successfully implemented).

 

3. Power to the people.

By taking on points 1 and 2, leaders are well on their way with empowering their people to succeed. But leaders also must give their people the authority, flexibility and partnership they require to perform and achieve. This involves trust and (if you are one of those types) relinquishing control. In the words of Elsa from ‘Frozen‘ – “let it go”!

safety champion safety software safety culture tips for leaders

 

4. Encourage.

Leaders absolutely must continuously inspire, reassure and encourage their people to strive for excellence and meet organisational targets. It’s not enough to do this once at the beginning of the year and forget about it. Your people will lose focus on safety if leaders are not keeping it top of mind year-round.

 

5. Check in.

Leaders need to measure, monitor and review the effectiveness of their safety goals and make any necessary changes as they go. There’s no point without this step, quite frankly.

 

That’s it from us – our two cents. If you are an aspiring leader in safety, take on the above advice and you will be better placed to succeed, along with your people and your entire safety management system. And if you are looking for a software system to help you implement the nitty gritty of your safety program with ease, so you can focus on the bigger stuff outlined above, give us a bell at Safety Champion or jot down your details here and we’ll be in contact.


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.

The Juggler Part 3: Training the Juggler

In many organisations, the Juggler is your “Safety Champion” – the person that keeps workplace safety on track and moving. Remember, the Juggler is the person, typically in smaller and medium sized businesses, who has been allocated the responsibility of ‘managing’ safety, in addition to their ’employed’ role.

 

As a result, the Juggler has often not completed formal safety training, which then impacts their ability to effectively manage your businesses safety program. In this article, we thought we’d share some of the training options that can help you give the Juggler the right skills to effectively do their job.

 

There are a few formal training course options:

  • The Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Training course – This course imparts extensive knowledge relating to consultation (through representation), legislation and incident investigation. However, areas such as risk management, technical knowledge, training and safety communication are also covered. The course varies from state to state. In Victoria, our sister-company Action OHS Consulting offer this course. Click for more.
  • The Certificate IV or Diploma in WHSThese courses address the skill needs of the Juggler but completion times are long – up to twelve months. Check with your local TAFE or RTO to see if they offer these courses.
  • For Queenslanders – WorkCover Queensland recognised a gap in training for the Juggler and has reintroduced training for the Work Health and Safety Officer (WHSO). The WHSO training provides knowledge in risk management, training implementation, and incident investigation skills.

 

Effective training and development solutions for the Juggler should include the following skill areas:

  • Understanding the legal and regulatory health and safety requirements –what does the law require you to do?;
  • Developing an approach to identify and manage risk (with a focus on serious risk);
  • Developing technical knowledge on areas specific to your organisation. This may include manual handling or ergonomics, hazardous chemicals, work at heights, etc;
  • Development of ‘communication’ and ‘influencing’ skills. Safety challenge’s often arise as a result of ineffective communication; and/or
  • Responding to incidents, and identifying strategies to conduct investigations, to best ensure that reoccurrences do not occur.

 

If formal training is not an option right now, or it’s something the Juggler at your workplace already has under their belt (yay!), the Juggler can also receive support by:

  • Subscribing to safety updates from their local regulator and Safe Work Australia.
  • Establishing a relationship with a certified safety professional. Think of this like how a bookkeeper maintains the company financial accounts on a day-to-day basis, but calls in certified Accountant for technical advice. Safety professionals can provide technical insights and advice when the Juggler requires specific safety assistance.
  • Adopt safety software – like, say, Safety Champion! Safety Champion will help you plan, and then guide and direct the Juggler to what they need from everyone else in the organisation. It helps everyone in the organisation understand their responsibilities and accountabilities, and means that the Juggler won’t have to police the implementation of your health and safety program. Often, this administration takes time, and policing is not fun, so it is not hard to see why this part of safety management is where the wheels often fall off.

 

Don’t forget – the Juggler is playing a super important role within your workplace. So show your love by giving them access to effective development options and support.

Check out the other blogs in “The Juggler” blog series:

Part 1 – Who is the Juggler

Part 2 – Show your support to the Juggler

We’re declaring war on safety… wait, what?

That’s right. We’re declaring war. On ‘safety’. But it’s not what you think. This is the title of our upcoming webinar series designed to fight through the perceived complexity of health and safety. We were inspired by the ABC’s War on Waste program… and threw a little spin on our own title. Yes, we want to catch your attention. Because safety is important.

 

These webinars will deliver simple health and safety advice to any business out there that has a thirst for it or needs it. We want to break down health and safety into what you need to know, not what the ‘Safety Industry’ tells you you!

 

Sound good? Get access to all episodes here!

 

So, yes, declaring War on Safety is a dramatic title (*cheeky of us). But we have our reasons.

 

Actually the title The War on Safety really represents the frustrations and confusion that we see of many Australian businesses have when probed about their safety program. It is clear that many businesses don’t know where to start and need some assistance crawling before they start to walk.

 

An overview the webinar program can be found below.

 

The program has been designed by the very experienced health and safety consultants at our sister-organisation, Action OHS Consulting. So you can be confident that you will be getting practical advice from innovative and forward-thinking health and safety professionals.

 

Across a four-part series, from August to November, The War on Safety will break all that safety jargon down into bite-sized, 30-minute webinars that give practical advice to business owners and people managers that want to learn more.

 

This way we can play our part in helping businesses keep their people healthier and safer.

 

Since this webinar series is now over – we’re providing access to the recordings to anyone who is keen. Click here.

 

 

Webinar Schedule

All webinars will commence at 11am AEST

 

8 August 2018Planning for casualties

How to develop a safety program

 

Registrations closed
12 September 2018Can I burn them up?

Understanding the safety documents you need

 

Registrations closed
10 October 2018Who are my allies?

Where to find free, useful resources

 

Registrations closed
14 November 2018Now let’s get that army moving

How to make safety business as usual

 

Registrations closed

 

Should I be worried about my staff being bullied at work?

Look, maybe you don’t need to be worried about but certainly you should be aware of workplace bullying and how it can impact your people. Surprising for some – perhaps not for others – it is a real thing and something that happens in Australian workplaces often enough for us to write about it.

 

“9.4% of Australian workers indicated that they had experienced workplace bullying in the previous 6 months (Safework Australia, 2014–15)”

 

So what is workplace bullying?

 

Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. I can be carried out by one or more workers.

 

The definitions are important.

 

  • ‘Repeated behaviour’ refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.
  • ‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

 

Examples of such behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, include but are not limited to:

  • abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
  • aggressive and intimidating conduct
  • belittling or humiliating comments
  • victimisation
  • practical jokes or initiation
  • unjustified criticism or complaints
  • deliberately excluding someone from work-related activities
  • withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
  • setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
  • setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level
  • denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources to the detriment of the worker
  • spreading misinformation or malicious rumours, and
  • changing work arrangements such as rosters and leave to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or workers.

 

So what should you do to look out for your people?

 

  1. Watch out for these things happening in your workplace. Note that though they could be one-off incidences, they are certainly something you should take note of and watch carefully. Because a single occurrence could be indicative of repeated behaviour that has already happened or may happen in the future.

 

  1. Be aware of changing characteristics of your staff. People experiencing bullying could show signs such as; distress, anxiety, panic attacks, physical illness, deteriorating relationships with colleagues, family and friends, poor work performance, inability to concentrate and more.

 

  1. Talk to your staff about workplace bullying, keep it on the agenda, and reiterate your workplace has zero-tolerance for it. If you don’t have a policy and clear procedures for how your staff should manage this if it happens – get it sorted! Reach out to OHS consultants that can help set this up. As a minimum you should have:

– a policy statement, and

– be able to demonstrate that you have spoken with your workers (this may be via formal training, or toolbox talk) about what bullying is and how to report it; and,

– consider providing workers with easy access to help and/or someone to speak to if they identify a need. Obviously the Issue Resolution Process is a good start, however, you may want to consider external and confidential services like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or direction to free contacts such as Lifeline, beyondblue, Headspace, The Black Dog Institute… to name a few. Put the contact details up on a noticeboard or in internal newsletters / communications emails.

 

  1. Skill yo’self up! Read the guidelines from Safe Work Australia. Learn more about related issues and check out the available resources from Heads Up – an alliance between a handful of reputable organisations created to ensure people in Australia workplaces are mentally healthy and safe. Or take a ‘mental health first aid’ course through Mental Health First Aid Australia. There’s lots of resources out there for you to use.

 

All of these things can help you to be better aware and better prepared for workplace bullying if it happen in your workplace. Good luck!

What on earth is a toolbox talk?

If you don’t know what a toolbox talk is it’s likely you don’t work in a blue-collar-type role. Because in industries like construction, mining, warehousing, manufacturing, right through to landscaping, toolbox talks are an integral part of health and safety program and procedures.

That said, if you run a business or manage people in or outside of these industries and don’t know what a toolbox talk is… read on. Then consider integrating these into your own safety management system – the benefits can be outstanding.

Why? Because toolbox talks can be a great way for any manager or team leader to start conversations about safety in the workplace!

 

So, what are they?

Toolbox talks are short and regular meetings about safety issues relevant to a specific site, project or workplace. A manager, supervisor or health and safety representative usually runs them with all person on site prior to a shift, at the commencement of a particular part of a project, or simply on a regular basis.

So yes, toolbox talks are sort of like meeting. In white-collar workplaces these are often just what you’d call a team meeting.

In addition to site, project or workplace specific hazards, toolbox talks will often cover organisational-specific safety topics including; key definitions, reminders about established controls, and importantly, actions/tasks scheduled to be taken by the people in the team to ensure that work is undertaken safely.

 

Why have them?

In short, their purpose is to ensure the whole team understand and keep the correct health and safety practices in mind as they go about their work. They keep health and safety front-of-mind and raise awareness about a safety issues.

And because any given site or project may have different or changing safety hazards, it’s important they are held regularly and involve everyone. This helps builds that safety-first culture, and a physiologically safe workplace, where workers are provided with a safe environment to raise questions that they may have.

 

What is a common structure?

Often toolboxs talks these days will be less like a lecture or meeting, and more like an interactive discussion where everyone can and should raise their hands to be involved. What you want is for your team to be engaged, to have their concerns addressed, and to ensure that everyone walks away with a clear understanding of that safety topic and how it implicates them in their day-to-day work.

A question-answer type structure is a good way to run toolbox talks. You ask the team for their involvement and answer their questions, but at the same time have a few common questions with considered answers ready to go.

 

Should I hold toolbox talks?

We’re gonna say YES! Regardless of the industry you work in toolbox talks are a great way to discuss get the discussion moving around common hazards in your workplace.

And if you are thinking, “I work in an office – there are no hazards here,” think again. Every workplace has hazards – it may just be that the frequency that your toolbox meetings take place is adjusted. Workers have the right to know what those hazards are and how to management them – and it’s your responsibility to ensure that they have everything they need to be healthy and safe in the workplace!

 

How can I get my hands on some templates?

We’re glad you asked! Simply fill out this form, let us know what you think you need, and we’ll be in contact to help you out with some common toolbox talk templates that are relevant for your industry!

 

So, you want to do something to encourage better mental health in your workplace?

Recently, The Black Dog Institute published an article about a study that showed strong evidence that training managers within workplaces about mental health can have a positive effect on improving occupational wellbeing for employees. But not only that, the study also indicated positive financial outcomes for businesses too! Great! No excuse now…

 

“Having a supportive manager can make a huge difference to a person’s mental wellbeing and giving basic mental health training to managers can bring significant changes to both confidence and behaviour among staff.”

Associate Professor Samuel Harvey

Workplace Mental Health Research Program, The Black Dog Institute

 

So, if you’ve started to wonder “how can I actually start to do something about supporting a mentally healthy workplace?” here’s some more info for you. We are lucky in Australia because we’ve got quite a few amazing organisations and institutions out there with loads of free information and tools to help you out.

 

The key one to point you to is the Heads Up Initiative. This has been developed by the ‘Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance’ – an Australian Government initiative – and beyondblue to get both business leaders and everyone for that matter to play their part in building mentally healthier working environments.

 

So, check out the Heads Up website for a stack of free resources, information, FAQs, and avenues to get further training or learn more. And find more resources from R U OK who have a heap of free every day resources along with campaign materials than can help you to initiate that first conversation in the office.

 

And, if you are after more information about creating a healthier and safer workplace for your people, check out the work of all of those organsiations that make up the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. Many of which have more information, tools and resources to help you out; like The Black Dog Institute, Mental Health Australia, Safe Work Australia and SANE.

 

 

And let’s not forget that managing everything to do with supporting happier, healthier and safer workplaces is well, just, easier with Safety Champion Software – helping you to keep it all ticking along and under control! Have a free trial today!

 

What on earth is ‘presenteeism’?

Certainly, when managing business, we take into account the impact of paid staff leave from both a financial and productivity point of view. We know the cost to the bottom line, how to manage the workload as our workers take their owed annual leave, how to pick up the slack quickly if someone is unexpectedly off sick, and we have the tools in place to properly track and monitor leave days. But have you thought about the impact of presenteeism? And, more, how to best manage it when it starts to happen?

 

While researching this blog, we actually found a lot of evidence (data mainly from USA) to suggest that presenteeism can have a larger impact on the operational and financial health of a business in comparison to sick leave – which is largely already taken in consideration by most businesses. Ok, so what are these two?

 

Absenteeism is when your workers are not actually in the workplace due to illness, planned leave, family emergencies, or other unplanned events like jury duty. It can become an issue to a business when the number of absent days exceeds what a business has allowed for as reasonable.

 

Presenteeism is when your workers still come to the workplace – only they are not actually working but are rather there in ‘presence’ only. In this case, workers could be ill, lacking motivation, overworked, etc.

 

So, what can you do about presenteeism to avoid this huge and, well, unaccounted for, impact to your business? Here are a few of suggestions – and no surprise – they are all related to ensuring you support the maintenance of a safe, happy and healthy workplace!

 

  1. Encourage your workers to maintain their health!

Suggest flu shots in winter, promote good hand hygiene (put some posters up in those bathrooms), send your workers home when they are showing signs of cold or flu, get a fruit box and support healthy eating, etc. Essentially, the healthier your staff, the better for everyone!

 

  1. Check in with your workers about their workload often.

Don’t expect your staff to always come forward when they are overworked and stressed. Also, don’t expect them to come forward if they feel underworked or believe they have more capacity. Try to actively start that conversation and encourage your managers and team leads to do the same. Motivate your workers. Help them to understand what the right balance is. After all, it is useless to overload a worker when this will actually have the opposite effect, demotivating them to do anything at all.

 

  1. Look out for the signs of poor mental or physical health.

This is tricky, but presenteeism can be common for people with health issues that are not overly visible to an employer, such as depression, anxiety or chronic pain issues and disease. So, this is about maintaining good and open communication with your workers, and trying to determine a way that will better support your staff if these kinds of health issues are present. Things like allowing your workers to work from home might assist or guiding them towards getting proper help.

 

So, there are just a few ideas from us. But really, the best way to manage presenteeism, and absenteeism for that matter, is good communication with your workers and maintaining a happy, healthy and safe workplace for all.

 

Why use the 70:20:10 model…

Differences in learning styles, attention spans and the way that we generally consume information these days, means that the way we train must evolve to keep it relevant and suit changing needs.That’s why when we stumbled across the old 70:20:10 learning model in our research, we thought it was worth a blog.

 

Whilst this model has been around for a little while, we feel that it is still incredibly valid! Especially for those people responsible for training staff in health and safety. Understanding the 70:20:10 model might actually help you ensure that your training and onboarding is relevant, whilst also assisting your managers and supervisors to build better rapport with their team members. And all of this leads to your people actually engaging with your health and safety training, rather than your health and safety training just serving as a ‘tick the box’ exercise.

 

The idea is this;

70% of everything you learn comes from your own personal on-the-job or general life experiences

20% of everything you learn comes from your interaction with others – feedback or observations

10% of everything you learn comes from formal training and courses

 

As you can see, this model indicates that while formal training sessions and course work is certainly a part of our learning, it is only a very small part of the larger piece. As health and safety professionals, this is particularly interesting – because we see businesses still placing considerable emphasis on getting their people into a room and training them in operational activities – so those boxes are ticked – rather than buddying them up with more experienced operators, or identifying innovative ways that they can build capability of their people in the field.

 

Don’t get us wrong, we believe formal health and safety training sessions are hugely important. However, we shouldn’t be stopping there when it comes to making sure our workers are fully briefed, ready to properly handle hazards and mitigate risks to ensure that they keep themselves and others safe in the workplace.

 

So, to get your workers to more thoroughly understand and adopt relevant health and safety skills and knowledge, try facilitating better on-the-job learning opportunities for ‘peer learning’. A couple of ideas could be;

 

  • Hold quick daily or weekly meetings to reflect on recent work to find any risks or hazards so you can learn from them.
  • Encourage older staff to take an active role in training the younger ones, even if they don’t think it’s their job.
  • Remind the younger and new staff to constantly seek advice and guidance from the others before proceeding with anything.
  • Encourage older and more experienced staff to share relevant health and safety stories and experiences they’ve had in yours and other workplaces.
  • See if you can build on the social aspects in your workplace. Allow workers to implicitly learn through informal and unstructured conversations.

 

Clearly there are many things you can do – but it’s all about communication, observation and experience. So, try encouraging or facilitating more opportunities for people to learn in a variety of ways, and you’ll see vast improvements in the uptake of your health and safety practices and procedures!

The 3 C’s of effective health and safety management…

As health and safety professionals, we are often met with common frustrations from our clients. People simply find safety confusing and complicated. They don’t want to decode the legislation. They just want to know what to do and what not to do so that they comply with the rules and protect their staff from injury and harm. They want peace of mind.

 

So, as a team – and over Friday pizza – we were chatting about how we can support businesses address this frustration. Bloated, we came up with a neat and concise set of 3 Cs – what we like to call The 3 C’s of Effective Health and Safety Management.

 

Even if you’re a novice and have never previously implemented a health and safety procedure, you’ll find that if you follow these simple 3 C’s you will be well on your way to success:

 

  1. Communication

Unquestionably the key to making safety work in the workplace is to keep talking about it with your team and within your teams. While the legislation documentation is long and complex, it actually really only stresses one point – that you talk or ‘work together to continuously improve safety’. For legal purposes, this can be as simple as starting to ask your colleagues and staff “How are you doing in your job today?” The answer to this question may be the key to finding those hazards in the workplace getting in the way of your staff being healthy, safe and productive.

 

  1. Common sense

Actually, safety often isn’t as hard or complicated as many businesses think. It just seems that way sometimes. But when it comes down to it, it’s just about you and your staff asking yourselves “Do I feel safe doing this?” or “Would I do this myself?” If the answer is ‘no’ then that’s a pretty good indication that you need to mitigate the risk around that hazard and put some safer practices in place. And yes, we know that common sense is not always that common; but sometimes all it takes is the opportunity to bring common sense to mind. Try asking your workers on a weekly basis if they saw anything they didn’t feel too good about and go from there.

 

  1. Connection

And finally, we come to connection. It can be a good idea for all businesses – big or small – to connect with others from time to time. This may be your peers, the health and safety regulator or OHS consultants. Connect with others to get general advice, or connect with others simply to sense check that what you are doing is on the right track. So try connecting with your regulator via their news feeds – see this list of the state regulators and their contact details. Or join one of the many free webinars and seminars on safety relevant to your industry. And for Victorian small businesses – try WorkSafe Victoria’s OHS Essentials program for a free OHS health check!

 

So, there you have it – our 3 C’s of effective health and safety management. And we might even be a little cheeky and add a 4th one to the list – which is of course ‘the Champion’! For a product tour to see how our software can help you implement you health and safety management system, contact us today!

 

 


To learn more simple approaches to health and safety, access our free 4-part safety 101 course filled with useful tips, tricks and free resources to assist you with effective management of safety.

To see practical advice for getting safety moving in your organisation, check out our Keen to get safety sorted in 2019? blog.

 

Free upcoming OHS seminar for small businesses | 22 August in Melbourne

It’s no secret – to you or us – that many small businesses are overwhelmed and confused by health and safety rules and regulations. Where to start… what do to… why it’s even important. But thankfully our friends at Action OHS Consulting are running a great free seminar to put this all into place for you and tell you everything you to know about OHS/WHS as a small business owner.

 

OHS for SMEs Seminar

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

10am to 11am

Donkey Wheel House

673 Bourke Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

 

As part of the Small Business Victoria Festival, this workplace health and safety seminar will be specifically catered to small to medium sized businesses (SMEs). It will provide business owners and managers with a simple overview of the legal and moral OHS responsibilities, and will cover how these can be effectively, and practically, managed within existing ‘business as usual’ activities.

 

With small business accounting for 96% of all Victorian businesses, there is clearly a need for small business owners to understand what the OHS legislation means for business. However, it’s important to note that OHS legislation can be incredibly complex to understand and to apply to a small business workplace setting. This seminar will remove block and help you understand just what you need to know without complicating things.

 

“Too many small businesses find health and safety hard, as they try to replicate what big businesses do. Instead, they should be focusing on what they can do – and what’s appropriate for their specific workplace.”

Craig Salter, Managing Director at Action OHS Consulting.

 

If you are interested in attending this workshop please register here. Excitingly, all participants will be given the opportunity to apply for a free safety review to help them kick start better health and safety management. And don’t forget to check out more of the sessions, workshops and talks that are on at the festival. It looks like a great line-up!

 

What is the difference between all those health and safety acronyms anyway?

A lot of our new clients come to us and say a similar thing. “I just got confused with all those health and safety acronyms! OHS, OSH, WHS or even WOSH… they all look the same, but are they?” Commonly, businesses just don’t know why there are so many and what they actually mean for their business.

 

“I just got confused with all those health and safety acronyms! OHS, OSH, WHS or even WOSH… they all look the same, but are they?”

 

The fact is that the reason they seem the same, is because… you guessed it, they are. The variation in terminology is generally a result from how the health and safety legislation is titled in each Australian state, or the body that regulates the implementation of that legislation.

 

Here’s a few of the common ones you see around explained:

 

  • WHS: In all Australian stated (other than VIC and WA), you will see people referring to WHS – Workplace Health and Safety due to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 or Work Health and Safety Act 2012
  • OHS: In Victoria you will see people referring to OHS – Occupational Health and Safety due to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • OSH: In WA you will see people referring to OSH – Occupational Safety and Health due to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984
  • HSW: In Great Brittan and New Zealand you will see people referring to HSW [Health and Safety] due to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and 2015 respectively.
  • HSE: In Great Britain, you may also see people referring to safety as HSE – this is in reference to their regulator Health and Safety Executive.
  • OSHA: This referencing of the regulator also holds true in the USA. People referring to safety as OSHA aligning with the regulator: Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

 

Put simply, these safety acronyms mean exactly the same thing. They guide businesses to make a commitment to establish a workplace where a worker will leave work with the same physical and mental health that they presented to work with.

 

So if you use the terminology interchangeably, this really isn’t an issue. If you do get corrected by some smarty pants, point out that maybe they should be more concerned with the goal of keeping workers safe and healthy in the workplace, and less concerned about technicality and semantics.

Try ‘stacking’ your habits… to prevent safety from falling over.

At the Safety Champion HQ we were recently discussing a blog we came across in Fast Company. The author was writing about how to build habits. More specifically, how to build habits that yield positive outcomes by integrated them into our lives in super simple and effective ways. While everyone has goals in life and ideas of things they want to achieve, we so rarely stick to the tasks required to get us there. In other words, we lack the staying power.

 

This got us thinking about our clients when they are starting to build a culture of health and safety in the workplace. The business owners and people managers we work with keep telling us that maintaining the momentum to meet health and safety targets and objectives can be difficult. With this in mind – and following some rather opinionated conversations here at HQ – we think that some of the ideas in this blog about building positive habits could be applied to assist businesses to build a strong safety culture.

 

One of the key ideas that came up was the concept of ‘stacking habits’. Say for example, you already routinely do something in the workplace and maybe you even do this without questioning it. Well, that’s perfect. It’s now just a matter of adding another habit or task to the one you already do as a way to make sure it happens. This way you start to automatically do one when you do the other. Brilliant.

 

For example, your team may meet every Monday morning for a ‘work in progress’ or ‘operations’ meeting – why not add the topic of health and safety to the agenda? Or your administration staff may be responsible for following up managers to provide their budgetary or KPI reporting quarterly – why not add the question of the health and safety targets progress to that follow up? Or perhaps your staff complete timesheets every week – why not add the completion of a safety checklist or register to the timeslot?

 

“Stacking habits is one highly successful mechanism that we find many SMEs are starting to take up. It’s a really smart and simple way to build safety into business as usual activities.” – Elaine McGuigan, OHS Consultant.

 

There are many ways that we can see ‘stacking habit’s working for OHS. After all, effectively managing your OHS or WHS obligations in the workplace is largely about ‘keeping on top of it’ and ‘keeping it top of mind’. So, try stacking your regular office habits with your OHS ones, and start achieving your health and safety targets for the year today.

 

 

If you are still struggling with how to encourage your staff to stack habits or to actually take health and safety as seriously as it needs to be, watch this video to see how our software can be a great solution. It allows you to digitise your OHS targets, delegate tasks, apply deadlines and reminders, and give managers and owners an overview at the click of a mouse. Simple.

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 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.

 

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: 

 

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.

 

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

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. This is especially true for industries like the retail sector where associated risks and hazards are higher due to the nature of the business. Workers regularly lift and move stock around from storeroom to display to customer, increasing risks.

 

So what can you do? 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, using the best operational practices possible to reduce the risks, and encouraging all lifting to happen with the low risk zone (see pic).

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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!

Everything you need to know about Personal Protective Equipment

As an employer you are responsible for establishing control measures to best ensure your workers are not injured when at work. One method commonly used to manage your workers exposure to hazards in the workplace is by providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Whilst it’s common for businesses to provide PPE to workers and contractors, many are not exactly sure of the circumstances or rules that surround this. So, let us give you a quick overview.

 

What is PPE?
PPE is anything used or worn by a person to minimise risks to that person’s health or safety. It includes a wide range of clothing and safety equipment such as boots, facemasks, hard hats, earplugs, respirators, gloves, safety harnesses, high visibility clothing and more.

 

When should PPE be used?
PPE should be used when an uncontrolled hazard has been identified in the workplace. Some common hazards that PPE is often used to help manage include:
Noise = earplugs or earmuffs
Dust = respirators
Contact with skin and/or body = gloves, clothes, apron, glasses, safety boots
UV Radiation = clothes, hat, glasses, sunscreen. Read more about this here.

 

How does PPE work?
PPE creates a barrier between the worker and that hazard. However you should remember that on most occasions PPE will not stop full exposure to the hazard. It will only reduce the workers exposure to that hazard.

For this reason it’s important to note that PPE should not be used as the only measure you use to manage hazards. Generally PPE should be used to supplement higher level control measures – think of it as a back-up, or, as an interim measure until a more effective way of controlling the hazard can be used.

 

Do I have to provide it?
In short, if workers are required to wear PPE to undertake their job, the employer must provide PPE to workers.

 

So, how do you know if PPE is required?
Generally, PPE is either standard across your industry (for example wearing high visibility clothing when working around traffic), or, has been identified as the outcome from a risk assessment that your workplace has completed.

 

Can I charge my employees for it?
If PPE has been identified as a requirement by the workplace, it’s actually an offence for an employer to charge or levy a worker for it. This includes footwear if it has been identified as a requirement of the role. Workplace relations’ laws also prohibit deductions from employee’s wages for PPE. With respect to some PPE and footwear, often some workplaces will have a ‘standard’ PPE offering. Workers may seek reimbursement outside of this offering, if they choose, so long as their PPE meets the required standard.

 

How do I choose the correct PPE?
When choosing PPE, you should consult with the users of the PPE – your workers – to ensure that the it does not create additional hazards, and to ensure that it will not impede the worker to undertake their job. Something that is often forgotten is considering how the PPE will be used in practice – simple, yet often missed! Once the PPE has been identified at your workplace, your next step should be to ensure that it meets the appropriate Australian Standards.

 

Is there anything else I should be aware of?
There are a couple of key things:

  • Firstly, if you provide PPE in your workplace, there is an expectation within the legislation that you will train your workers on the correct use, fit and maintenance of the PPE. Whilst there is a legislative requirement to do this, there is no legislative requirement to document this. However, should there be an injury in the future – consider whom the investigator will believe? The worker who advises that they have not been trained – whether this is true or not. Or the workplace that advises that the worker has been trained but has no documented records to prove it.
  • Secondly, the PPE you chose may have an expiry date – for example hardhats. This means that you will need to identify a process to monitor and manage this.
  • Finally, issuing PPE may mean that your workplace has additional legislated duties, such as completing audiometric (in other words hearing-related) tests. These tests, as an example, must be typically completed within specific timeframes. So bear this in mind.

 

 

We know that even something as simple as using the right equipment and gear in the workplace can add to your ‘to do’ list and escalate into a small headache. But with our Safety Champion Software, features like automatic reminders about PPE replacement deadlines, or quick PPE overview Toolbox Talks all come as part of the package. So, to make things a little easier on yourself, why not take a product tour today?

Which SPF rating sunscreen should my workers be using?

These days, it seems like there are so many different SPF ratings of sunscreen on the market it’s hard to be sure of what it all means. SPF is actually a measure of sunscreens ability to prevent Ultra Violet B (UVB) from penetrating into and damaging the skin. It’s safe to say that the higher the number, the better job the sunscreen will do of this. In case you were hoping that the health and safety legislation would specify which SPF rating you should be using, well, we’re sad to inform it doesn’t.

 

But what the health and safety legislation does specify is that you must identify your workplace hazards, so these can be controlled, to allow you to provide a workplace that is safe for your workers. This means, if you have workers out in the sun, you need to protect them against UV rays so they don’t get sunburn – and melanoma down the track. So, if you do have workers working outdoors, how can this be controlled and what SPF should be being used? Let us give you the low down.

 

Actually, most sunscreens with an SPF rating of 15 or higher do an excellent job of shielding the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. When used properly, SPF15 protects the skin from 93% of UVB radiation. SPF30 is obviously going to be better and provides 97%. So, yep, you guessed it – the higher the better! And certainly either is better than nothing.

 

But it’s important to know that there is no single sunscreen will provide 100% coverage. So, along with the highest SPF rating sunscreen you can get your hands on, you should consider other methods to manage your workers time in the sun, like:

  • Providing UV protective, long-sleeved collared shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Rescheduling tasks to ensure outdoor work is performed at the start of end of the day.
  • Providing access to shelter or shade.

 

And as a general rule of thumb, sunscreen won’t stay effective for longer than two hours without reapplication, regardless of the SPF rating. So, don’t forget to remind your workers of this, despite what the bottle might say!

 

Want to learn about mitigating other risks related to your staff working in the sun? Read our blog about ways to avoid heat stress. And if your business does need to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like sunscreen, to manage sun related hazards, you might find our blog about Everything you need to know about Personal Protective Equipment a useful read.

 

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.

Advantages to having documented Health and Safety Procedures in place

For many businesses documenting your Health and Safety Procedures is not vital to be in compliance with the legislation. Read more about this here. However, depending on the work that you do, there may be times that the legislation will require you to have your health and safety ‘ways of working’ documented.

For example, in Australia, there is a requirement across all jurisdictions to document the steps that your workers have establish to manage the risks associated with high risk construction work. The requirements of these documents, whether they are documented on paper or glass, are outlined within the health and safety regulations.

But there are also other reasons why your business should consider documenting your health and safety procedures. For example, if you run a company that is contracted by other organisations to undertake work on their behalf, it’s likely that you will one day be asked for a copy of your Health and Safety Procedures. Many businesses aim to manage the risks associated with the engagement of contractors, by only awarding contracts and/or tenders to contractors that have a documented Safety Management System. This ‘direction’ is designed to provide the business with assurances and greater confidence that the contractor they are engaging has considered their health and safety impacts.

For businesses that have not implemented a ‘documented’ Safety Management System this can often be a block on expanding their business. The requirements placed on contractors are here to stay and if anything, are likely to become more stringent. Why – because it makes things safer? No, not necessarily. It is more likely to be associated with us working in a litigious society, where there is a requirement for risk management needs to be explicit and demonstrable.What are Health and Safety Procedures

A final reason why documenting these procedures will be necessary is certification. And this is a different beast altogether. Should you proceed down this path, you should know that certification requires simple methods for the auditors to understand your established or official way of doing something.

There are advantages of certification, one key benefit is the ability to communicate to workers and customers that your Safety Management System is at a defined standard. It doesn’t mean your business is safer, it means that your business’ Safety Management System has achieved a defined standard.

 

An overview of the minimum Health and Safety Procedures required for certification against the Australian/New Zealand Standard and the National Audit Tool Version 3 (NAT3) are outlined in the table below.

 

StandardDocumented Procedures Required
AS/NZS 4801:2001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, Guidance for Use.The following procedures are to be documented:

  • Hazard Identification, Hazard/Risk Assessment and Control of Hazards/Risks (of activities, products and services that the organisation has control over) (Criterion 4.4.3.1 / 4.4.6)
  • Health and Safety Consultation (Criterion 4.4.3)
  • Emergency Procedures (Criterion 4.4.7)
  • Monitoring and Measurement of Activities that may cause illness and injury (Criterion 4.5.1)

In addition to documented procedures, the standard requires documented evidence of the following:

  • Health and Safety Policy (Criterion 4.2)
  • Health and Safety Objectives and Targets (Criterion 4.3.3)
  • Health and Safety Accountability and Responsibilities (Criterion 4.4.1)
  • Management Health and Safety Review (Criterion 4.6)
National Audit Tool (Version 3)The NAT3 defined a procedure as a document in text or graphic format that describes the reason, scope, steps to be followed and responsibilities for a component of the Health and Safety Management System. It may also include definitions and references to other documents. It must be implemented effectively.

This means that procedures are required for:

  • Consultation (Criterion 3.4.1)
  • Identification of hazards and the assessment and control of risks (Criterion 3.4.4)
  • The exchange of relevant health and safety information with external parties (Criterion 3.5.3)
  • Dealing with formal and informal health and safety complaints received from external parties (Criterion 3.5.4)
  • Reporting and recording workplace injuries and illnesses, incidents and health and safety hazards, dangerous occurrences and system failures (Criterion 3.6.1)
  • Risk management (Criterion 3.9.7)
  • Verifying that purchased goods meet health and safety requirements (Criterion 3.10.6)
  • Materials and substances are disposed of safely (Criterion 3.10.9)
  • Permit to work – as required (Criterion 3.10.14)
  • Quarantine, or withdrawal from service, of unsafe plant or equipment (Criterion 3.10.17)
  • Material transport, handling and storage (Criterion 3.10.21)
  • Critical incidents (Criterion 3.11.8)
  • Health Surveillance – Identification and Management (Criterion 4.2.1)
  • Corrective Actions (Criterion 4.3.1)
  • Incident investigation Procedure (Criterion 4.3.2)

Help your workers retain those vital skills

Training is an important component of your health and safety program. It ensures that your workers have the appropriate knowledge and skills to competently complete the requirements of their job safely. What training looks like will vary considerably from business to business. Like everything training can be hit and miss. Some training will be effective and engaging, while other training will send workers to sleep, leading to zero-impact and retention.

 

To ensure that you get to most out of your training, we have reviewed some training methods so your can align your programs to achieve the deliverable you are after. Here, we have taken a look at blocked versus random practice; which you’ve probably come across in a sporting context before. Here’s how they work when learning a new skill like hitting a ball;

 

  • Blocked practice: Learn the skill from several scenarios by acting out Scenario A 10 times, before moving onto Scenario B, and then onto Scenario C.
  • Random practice: Learn the skill from several scenarios by acting out Scenario A once, Scenario B once and Scenario C once and repeat this 10 times

 

Ok, so now which one do you think is more effective in helping the skill be retained? The answer is dependent on whether you were assessing the performance after the initial training, or the performance at a later date.

 

Blocked practice should produce better performance than random practice during the initial training. It is an effective way for the participant to ‘understand’ the components of the individual skill. However, once the initial components of the skill are understood, it is random practice that will improve the participant’s ability to retain the skill.

 

Why? Because during random practice, the participant is required to work through the whole skill (from start to finish), as they switch between the different scenarios; rather than making minor adjustments to the skill, using their knowledge from their past performance. In brief, this causes more brain stimulation and activity. More brain activity results in better long-term learning.

 

So, to help your workers really understand the skills to undertake their job safely, your health and safety training should consider shifting from blocked training scenarios to a more randomised approach if this reflects the work that they are undertaking. Whilst challenging for your workers initially – “mixing things up” will improve their skills, help them recall the “skill” in the future, ultimately lead to a safer workplace.

 

 

Our OHS Software solution helps you manage your worker’s training better. Contact us to find out how.