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Chain of Responsibility – Meeting the Challenges

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) places legal obligations on parties in the transport ‘supply chain’ and across transport industries in general. You are considered part of the road transport ‘supply chain’ if you have any control or responsibility over any transport task, such as consigning, packing, loading or receiving goods transported by vehicles over 4.5 Tonne […]

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Newly Released Codes - October 2018

The past year has seen a substantial increase in the number of safety codes released for public review and now many have been adopted by the regulators. Safe Work Australia worked hard to released ten Model Codes of Practice that we are beginning to see local regulators adopt. Below is a list of clickable newly released codes state-by-state, […]

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Prosecutions: 2017 Summary for NSW & Victoria

Let’s face it, business leaders and safety professionals all play the same game: Maximising profits, without establishing or endorsing operations that will cause harm to their workers or the public. Due diligence is about collecting information to allow informed decisions to be made. As such, workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners, and business […]

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The War on Safety Webinar Series

Recognising a pressing need for small and medium sized businesses to access us­­­eful and targeted advice about health and safety, Action OHS Consulting has developed a free four-part webinar series titled the War on Safety to assist. It launches 8 August 2018.    Since this webinar series is now over – we’re offering access to […]

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Safety Champion Software | Increased success and growth in 2018

The Action OHS Consulting team has developed a cloud-based OHS software solution that supports businesses with health and safety management and compliance. With over 250 workplaces already using the system – including a number of Australian-based global retailers reaching beyond Australia into New Zealand, Asia, UK, and USA – the solution is seeing considerable success […]

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Job Opportunity - OHS Consultant (VIC) [closing 5 April 2017]

We have an exciting opportunity for a safety consultant looking to apply their skill and learn how to become an effective safety practitioner to join our team. Whilst this is a junior / entry consulting position, you will be tasked with supporting key clients which include a mix of small- and medium-sized organisations, government departments […]

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Health and Safety Prosecutions: 2016 Summary for Victoria & NSW

Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners should maintain oversight of to identify trends. This article provides an overview of the prosecutions listed by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW for Calendar Year 2016 as of 28 February 2017.   During 2016, over $10,000,000.00 in fines were issued to businesses and workers in Victoria and NSW following […]

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OHS Consulting Opportunities (Melb, VIC)

Are you interested in a health and safety consulting role where you get to role your sleeves up, get your hands dirty and make a difference? You will be a self-starter who has a demonstrated ability to provide both considered and proactive health and safety advice. Your decisions will be based on reason, with a […]

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Prosecutions: January to April 2016 for NSW & Victoria

Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners should maintain oversight of to identify trends and maintain awareness of foreseeable hazards. This article provides an overview of the prosecutions listed by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW between January and April 2016.   Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation The first 4 months of 2016 saw a total of […]

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Planning: Safety in Design – When and What to Consider?

The 2nd ‘Safety in Design’ Conference was held recently in Melbourne during May 2016. As the name suggests, the topics discussed on the day centered on the importance of considering and planning for safety in areas such as: process and functional safety (e.g. when designing plant and/or guarding); construction of new and/or refurbishment of buildings; purchase of […]

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Training: Improving the Impact of your Training – Blocked vs Random Practice

Training is critical for all organisations to ensure that workers have the appropriate knowledge and skill to competently complete the inherent requirements of their role safely. What training looks like varies considerably and will often depend on the training requirement. We often ask the question to our clients “what consideration did you make when developing […]

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Technology: 10 Questions to Consider When Purchasing OHS Software

Businesses of all sizes struggle with managing their workplace safety responsibilities. When operations are busy, activities which have been initiated to ensure that the established risk controls are in place and working can often be forgotten. Let’s face it, there should be a reason why these activities have been scheduled, and if this reason is to protect […]

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Prosecutions: 2015 Summary for NSW & Victoria

Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners should maintain oversight of to identify trends. This article provides an overview of the prosecutions listed by WorkSafe Victoria and Safe Work NSW for 2015 as of 15 March 2016.     Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation 2015 saw a total of 85 health and safety prosecutions in Victoria and 52 prosecutions […]

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Planning: What is your health and safety strategic plan?

Does your workplace have an OHS plan? If so, does your workplace have OHS objective and targets to support you to achieve the outputs of this plan? If you have established objectives and targets, are these periodically reviewed, evaluated and redefined (if necessary)? Or do they sit there in the background, getting reviewed ad-hoc…or worse still post […]

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Training: Are you training for compliance or safety?

The majority of workplaces we speak with understand the need for training; however, many do not “understand” the purpose of training. Well-kept and documented training records demonstrate excellent compliance practices, not excellent training practices. The purpose of training is not to demonstrate your records management skills; it is to ensure that your workers have been […]

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Technology: Wait, there's more “stuff” that you don't have easy access to!

A Safety Officer’s workplace is often a nightmare of folders, disorganised paperwork, papers, folders and more folders; mixed with checklists, spreadsheets and templates.  Action OHS Consulting is often engaged to undertake safety audits. The nervous Safety Officer that greets us is not an irregularity. Whilst there is no need to be nervous – I get it. Folders for incidents, folders […]

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Chain of Responsibility – Meeting the Challenges

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) places legal obligations on parties in the transport ‘supply chain’ and across transport industries in general. You are considered part of the road transport ‘supply chain’ if you have any control or responsibility over any transport task, such as consigning, packing, loading or receiving goods transported by vehicles over 4.5 Tonne as part of your business. In simple terms, the supply chain refers to the businesses and people involved with moving a product or service from the supplier to customer. Since 2008, the expectation has been that all parties involved in the road freight supply chain have responsibility for managing risk associated with their activities in the movement of product by road freight.

CoR laws apply in QLD, NSW, ACT, TAS and SA under the Heavy Vehicle National Law and in WA under the Road Traffic (Vehicles) Act. The NT does not have a specific CoR provision in transport law, however employers carry obligations under Work Health and Safety Law (refer NT Government – Penalties).

Changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) came into effect on 1 October 2018. These changes have been designed to strengthen safety expectations and ensure that responsible parties are held accountable for breaches. As a result of their alignment with safety legislation, the proposed changes may be of relevance to your workplace.

The proposed CoR changes will:

  • Place a primary duty on each party involved in the supply chain. Primary duty represents a duty to eliminate or minimise potential harm or loss (risk) by doing all that is reasonably practicable to ensure safety. This will make any party (or parties) within the supply chain liable in the event they have requested or influenced unsafe work practices to take place, from either internal (fellow workers) or external (customers/contractors);
  • Ensure a positive duty is placed on individuals to control risks. A positive duty requires an individual to proactively control risks (so far as is reasonably practicable) associated with areas in the chain of responsibility over which they have control;
  • Ensure responsibility is shared across the supply chain, not just born by the driver. The following roles and responsibilities have been explicitly identified by the HVNL; Operator/Manager/Schedulers, Consignor/Consignee, Loading Manager/Loader/Packers – an overview of individual roles and responsibilities can be found at the following link NHVR;
  • Place the burden of proof on the prosecutor to prove non-compliance (as is currently the case in most WHS/OHS legislation across Australia);
  • Enshrine the concept of ‘Reasonably Practicable’ to assess liability rather than ‘Reasonable Steps’ (again, as is currently the case in most WHS/OHS legislation across Australia);
  • Include a Vehicle Safety Standard (including dimensions) along with Speed, Fatigue and Mass Management Standards;
  • Expand the National Heavy Vehicle’s Regulator’s investigative, enforcement and information gathering powers to bring them into line with current WHS regulator’s powers.

 

So, what do these changes mean in practical terms?

 

Primary Duty –The proposed CoR redefines ‘deemed liability’ to one of ‘primary duty’. In other words, it is recognised that actions by other parties elsewhere in the supply chain can influence unsafe outcomes. To effectively manage this duty, the following questions should be considered:

  • What activities do I directly control in the Supply Chain?
  • What can I do to ensure that my actions in this step do not place our workers and other persons at risk?

For example, if you have control over loading times, are they reasonable to allow drivers adequate time to perform deliveries? Or, are they unreasonably forcing drivers to break curfews, speed limits or fatigue rules?

 

Positive Duty – Positive Duty recognises that Executive Officers of companies have the capability to make decisions which can impact a workplace and road safety. Under the CoR it will now be possible to prosecute individuals at the Officer level in addition to prosecuting the business or corporation, even if a CoR related accident or incident has not taken place.

For example, an Executive Officer’s decision not to pay for truck servicing may result in a prosecution, even if a road accident has not occurred. In addition, Directors making decisions which can be proven to impact safety in the supply chain can result in Directors being personally liable.

It should be noted that ‘reckless’ decisions (decisions, in which a ‘Person’ deliberately and unjustifiably pursues a course of action while consciously disregarding any risks flowing from such action) can attract a maximum five-year jail penalty.

To effectively manage this Positive Duty the following question should be asked:

  • What impacts will the decisions I make impact safety within the Supply Chain ?
  • How will requests I make to our contractors or customers impact their safety within the Supply Chain?

For example, if I make a decision on trip times (whether the truck is driven by a directly employed driver or contract driver), I have a positive duty to demand scheduling times which do not force unreasonable driving times or speeds.

For example, if I make a decision to reduce maintenance budgets, I need to ensure that vehicle safety is not compromised due to reduced servicing (e.g. brakes, tyres are appropriately maintained).

 

Reasonably Practicable – The concept of ‘Reasonably Practicable’ replaces ‘reasonable steps’. Factors which will be used to determine ‘Reasonably Practicable’ include:

  • The seriousness of the hazard (consequence); or
  • What was known about the hazard; or
  • What the person should have known about controlling the hazard; or
  • How likely it was that the hazard would result in harm (likelihood); and only once these four factors have been considered –
  • The cost of controlling the hazard.

Keep in mind, ignorance is not a defence. In general, the courts review what a person should have reasonably known about controlling a hazard and they will look to current industry customs and practices. If other organisations involved in a business similar to yours have managed to implement controls, and these controls are common, known, or easy to establish, it will be very difficult for your organisation, or even yourself as an individual, to claim it was not reasonably practicable to control the risks/hazards.

 

Vehicle Safety Standard – The following has been enshrined as a CoR Standard ensuring that vehicles are safely maintained; external signage on vehicles is correct; and, vehicle dimensions are not exceeded. This Standard defines responsibilities for ensuring that truck maintenance, scheduling and load make-up / method of securing loads is undertaken and has synergies with other Standards such as Fatigue and Speed and Mass Management. The following questions are key items for consideration under this standard:

  • Which truck and trailer should be purchased?
  • How should the truck and trailer be maintained?
  • How will unusual shaped loads be secured and carried?

 

In Summary – The above CoR changes present opportunities for organisations to manage CoR in exactly the same way that they manage other workplace risks. A proactive approach to managing your CoR obligations should include:

  1. Identifying work areas in which your organisation influences and/or controls safety across the supply chain.
  2. Undertaking a gap analysis to determine where your gaps are and what you need to develop/ implement to ensure compliance with the new CoR rules.

Note: The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) website lists a self-paced gap assessment tool: https://www.nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/national-heavy-vehicle-accreditation-scheme. If you haven’t done this yet you really need to make a start!

  1. Adopting a preventative and proactive approach to ensure that all known risks (including compliance gaps) are addressed before they manifest themselves; the highest rated risks being addressed as a priority;
  2. Ensuring that the CoR requirements are understood and supported across all levels, in particular by the leadership teams at the Executive Officer level.
  3. Integrating CoR into your current Safety Management System. This will avoid duplication of practices and processes, for example – integrating compliance management (e.g. speed, fatigue, mass, dimension, loading and vehicle standard requirements) into current work practices such as maintenance programs, and ensuring regular reporting will assist with managing CoR requirements.
  4. Adopting an ‘Assurance’ approach in which the CoR processes in place are tested regularly to ensure they comply with CoR Laws.

Such testing should be planned for and evidence of completion documented. Testing may include:

  • Internal or External Audits/Reviews,
  • Reporting on system related data (i.e. incidents; completion of planned tasks such as: maintenance activities, registration, training/licences, etc.; complaints breaches, inspection performance, etc.), or
  • Ongoing consultation with all parties involved in your supply chain (to ensure ongoing compliance).

 

Sounds familiar? It’s not much different from the compliance principles outlined in health and safety legislation. So, if you are currently managing health and safety legislation requirements, the same approach can be used to manage and integrate CoR into your current systems.

 

That said, if you do have any questions – please do not hesitate to reach out to us. If a five-minute conversation will get you on the right track, we would love to assist. If you need more assistance, this is something we can also support.

 

Source: https://www.nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/chain-of-responsibility

 

 

Newly Released Codes – October 2018

The past year has seen a substantial increase in the number of safety codes released for public review and now many have been adopted by the regulators. Safe Work Australia worked hard to released ten Model Codes of Practice that we are beginning to see local regulators adopt. Below is a list of clickable newly released codes state-by-state, as of 21 November 2018.

 

Model Codes of Practice

Safe design of structures Code of Practice, October 2018  

Preventing falls in housing construction, October 2018

Spray painting and powder coating, October 2018 

Hazardous manual tasks, October 2018 

Confined spaces, October 2018 

Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work, October 2018

Managing the risk of falls at workplaces, October 2018 

Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals, October 2018 

How to safely remove asbestos, October 2018 

How to safely remove asbestos, October 2018 

Abrasive blasting, May 2018 

Construction work, May 2018 

First aid in the workplace, May 2018 

How to manage work health and safety risks, May 2018 

Managing the risks of plant in the workplace, May 2018 

Managing the work environment and facilities, May 2018 

Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, May 2018 

Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals, May 2018 

Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination, May 2018 

Welding processes, May 2018

 

WA Codes

Western Australia has released a CODE OF PRACTICE Emergency management for Western Australian mines 

Draft Code: Mentally healthy workplaces for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the resources and construction sectors 

 

NSW Codes

Managing risks in stevedoring, December 2017 

 

QLD Codes

Managing risks in stevedoring, March 2018 

Managing the risk of falls at workplaces Code of Practice, July 2018 

Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice, Feb 2018 

 

TAS Codes

Abrasive blasting, August 2018 

Construction work, August 2018 

First aid in the workplace, August 2018 

How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks, August 2018 

Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, August 2018 

Managing the work environment and facilities, August 2018 

Managing the risks of plant in the workplace, August 2018 

Preparation of Safety Data Sheets for Hazardous Chemicals, August 2018 

Welding Processes, August 2018 

Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination, August 2018 

 

ComCare Codes

Managing risks in stevedoring, November 2017 

 

NT Codes

No new compliance codes

 

VIC Codes

WorkSafe Victoria has been working hard over the past year to review the Victorian Codes of Practices and Compliance Codes to bring them in line with current legislation and industry practice. While the Compliance Codes will be very similar to Model Codes of Practice they have been specifically designed to support Victorian Workplaces to meet their legislated duties.

Confined spaces, March 2018 

Demolition, May 2018 

Excavation, May 2018 

Facilities in construction, March 2018 

Hazardous manual handling, March 2018 

Hazardous substances, July 2018 

Noise, March 2018 

Plant, March 2018

Managing asbestos in workplaces, October 2018

Removing asbestos in workplaces, October 2018

Prevention of falls in general construction, October 2018

Prevention of falls in housing construction, October 2018

 

 

 

We will endeavour to keep this list of newly released codes updated on a regular basis.

Prosecutions: 2017 Summary for NSW & Victoria

Let’s face it, business leaders and safety professionals all play the same game: Maximising profits, without establishing or endorsing operations that will cause harm to their workers or the public. Due diligence is about collecting information to allow informed decisions to be made. As such, workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners, and business leaders alike, should maintain currency of to identify trends and ensure past situations are not repeated.

 

For the third year in a row, Action OHS Consulting has taken some time to collate and review the data available from WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW to support you in influencing key stakeholders within your organisation and assisting your business to make informed decisions with respect to its health and safety program.

 

This article provides an overview of the prosecutions for 2015, 2016 and 2017 calendar years.

 

Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation

Calendar year 2017 saw a total of 105 prosecutions against the Victorian health and safety legislation, whilst in NSW the number of prosecutions was 28. When the past three years are compared, there has been a 23% increase in Victoria. Whilst over the same period, there has been a 46% reduction in the prosecutions that have occurred in NSW.

Within Victoria:

  • 97 prosecutions were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • 2 prosecution were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
  • 6 prosecution involved both the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007

Whilst 2017 saw the introduction of the updated Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, with prosecution timeframes on average over 2 years, the outcomes from prosecutions against the updated regulations are likely to become visible from 2018 and beyond.

Within NSW:

  • 27 prosecutions were recorded against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • 1 prosecutions was recorded against the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011

Whilst there was one (1) prosecution against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 in 2016, with the maximum timeframe for prosecution outcomes in 2017 being 3 years and 11 months – this may signal a complete transition in NSW to prosecutions against the harmonised legislation, following the 2000 Act being superseded as of 1 January 2012.

The timeframe for the prosecutions outcomes from 2017, when measured against the date of the offence, have been listed in the table below.

Table 1: Timeframe between date of offence and the prosecution outcome, for the 2017 prosecution outcomes reported by SafeWork NSW & WorkSafe Victoria.

 

Prosecutions: An Overview of the Health and Safety Fines Issued

Year on year, the average fine and median fine increased in NSW. Whilst in Victoria only the median fine increased with the average fine staying around $85,000. The average and median fines were greater in NSW.

In NSW each prosecution resulted in a monetary fine. In Victoria 88 fines were issued (83% of prosecutions). When considering total costs (e.g. court costs, court funds, etc.) all prosecutions were financially impacted.

In addition to the fines, WorkSafe Victoria issued 10 Enforceable Undertakings in 2017 which equates to 10% of prosecutions. This is compared to the 6 and 7 issued in 2015 and 2016 respectively. An Enforceable Undertaking is a legally binding agreement between WorkSafe Victoria and the employer. The employer is obliged to carry out the specific activities outlined in the agreed undertaking. EUs will typically guide and direct the business being prosecuted to improve its health and safety program.

With respect to fines, the maximum fines for both Victoria and NSW increased year on year. The maximum fines issued to a business were associated with the following events:

  • During asphalt resurfacing works, a company engaged a traffic control company to perform the traffic management operations at the workplace and a separate company to supply a sweeper vehicle and driver for the resurfacing works. A traffic management worker was struck and killed (as they were aligning bollards to separate live traffic from the resurfacing) by the sweeper vehicle when it breached the exclusion zone and reversed into him without warning – Victoria: $1,300,000.

The background: The sweeper vehicle had previously narrowly missed two workers at the workplace on two separate occasions when it breached exclusion zones without warning. The sweeper vehicle was driven in reverse in the work zone when unnecessary and persons on foot at the workplace were unaware of the movements of the sweeper vehicle. Spotters had been provided for other mobile plant operating in the area but no spotters were assigned to the sweeper vehicle. The offender’s induction to the workplace did not address the dangers posed by the sweeper vehicle reversing on a busy site and there was no Safe Work Method Statement setting out safe procedures for moving or setting up bollards. The offender also failed to supervise effectively, or at all, the operation of the sweeper vehicle and the movements of persons on foot in the vicinity of the sweeper vehicle.

The outcome: There is a requirement to supervise and manage contracted parties. In this instance, there was a risk of death or serious injury as a result of the unsafe operation of the sweeper vehicle at the workplace.

 

  • On 19 June 2014 a worker suffered serious injuries following an electric shock as a result of working in close proximity to high voltage overhead power lines – NSW: $1,000,000.

 

With respect to the Victorian prosecution, it confirms the requirement for organisations to supervise and manage the work of contracted parties, and their interactions onsite. In this case, the court found the primary contractor should have had more control over the day-to-day supervision of the work activities, and reviewed Safe Work Method Statements. The management of contractors will vary between contractor engagements, and will depend on a number of factors. One thing is certain, you must have a clear management plan. If you are not sure what this plan looks like in your organisation, this outcome suggests that you should seek advice.

 

It is not just businesses that are being prosecuted in relation to health and safety breaches

If you were of the belief that health and safety prosecutions were limited to corporations – think again. In 2017, 3% and 19% of prosecutions were issued to workers in Victoria and NSW respectively – equating to 3 and 5 prosecutions respectively. This is a reduction in the distribution of worker related prosecutions from 2016.

An overview of the prosecutions related to workers in NSW and Victoria are as follows:

In NSW there were five (5) workers prosecuted:

  • Worker suffered serious head injuries when he fell approximately 11 metres while lopping a tree – NSW: $80,000.
  • A worker was fatally injured when he came into contact with the tracks of an excavator at a waste sorting facility – NSW: $60,000. Note: The corporate defendant was fined $300,000.
  • A visitor to a residential property suffered serious burns when an explosion and fireball occurred as a result of bitumen laying works – NSW: $40,000. Note: The corporate defendant was fined $160,000.
  • A 20 year old labourer fell approximately 11 metres off a roof of a house after being hit by a swinging branch cut from a tree, suffering a fractured shoulder from the fall – NSW: $20,000.
  • A SafeWork NSW Inspector observed a worker operating a forklift without wearing a seatbelt (at Flemington Sydney Markets). The worker was issued with a Penalty Notice for failure to wear personal protective equipment (being a seatbelt) – NSW: $1,000.

This is compared to the maximum fine being issued in Victoria which was $15,000.00 plus costs of $2,000.00. In this instance the prosecution was associated with the following event:

  • A company secretary and shareholder with a 21 year old apprentice were unloading floor sheeting which had been craned onto the second floor trusses of a partially constructed apartment building. The trusses collapsed onto the first floor, with both floors collapsing to the ground. The apprentice was fatally injured. There was no safe system of work for unloading the sheeting onto the second floor trusses to determine whether those trusses were capable of bearing the load – Victoria: $180,000.
  • WorkSafe Inspectors attended a construction site and charged a self-employed builder with five offences for failing to ensure that persons were not exposed to risks to health and safety arising from his undertaking (including fall from heights, unsecured site and untested and tagged electrical equipment) – Victoria: $10,000.00 and ordered to pay costs in the amount of $2,500.00
  • An incident was reported to WorkSafe. That afternoon two Inspectors and one Investigator attended the site. During the course of their visit, the offender gave a wrong name to an Inspector, hindered an Inspector by refusing to answer relevant questions, acted in an intimidating and threatening manner by aggressively striking metal with a hammer, saying he hated them and made threats of violence, pushed an Inspector, and ordered the Inspectors to get out of the workshop. The offender was charged with offences related to assault, intimidation and hindrance/obstruction of an Inspector and providing a false name to an Inspector – $1,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of $3,038.05.

 

Prosecutions: What is the Cause and where are the Gaps?

With respect to the criteria/codes that lead to the prosecution – the criteria that was associated with 10% of the prosecutions in 2017, as defined by WorkSafe Victoria, are outlined below.

 

These criteria are consistent with 2015 and 2016, with the exception of “Failure to notify VWA of a notifiable incident” being associated with 16% of all Victorian health and safety prosecutions in 2015 and “Unguarded plant” and “Failure to conduct a risk/hazard identification” being included on this list in 2016, being aligned with 14% and 12% of all Victorian health and safety prosecutions.

The introduction of “Failure to provide a safe workplace” places a clear duty on workplaces to understand their operations, the hazards associated with their work, and ensure that the established controls are implemented. In addition, the increase in “High risk construction work” along with with “Falls/work at height offences” aligns with WorkSafe Victoria’s focus on high risk industries.

Other criteria noteworthy to report on includes:

  • “Traffic Management” as this criteria has been aligned with between 5% and 8% of prosecutions during 2015, 2016 and 2017;
  • “Failure to prepare a SWMS”, as this is new to the list in 2017 at 8%, and aligns with the increased activity in the construction space as outlined above; and
  • “Inexperienced employee” returning to the list after no being included in 2016 at 6%. This should not be limited to just “young” workers.

During 2017 and into the first-half of 2018, Action OHS Consulting did observe a rise in inbound calls for support, associated with improvement notices being issued by WorkSafe Victoria regarding these three criteria.

Failure to provide a safe system of work, safe working environment and information, instruction, training or supervision were associated with one quarter of all prosecutions. This outlines the requirement for workplaces to actively:

  • Assess their workplace risks. Consider listing all foreseeable hazards in the workplace, and document the current controls that have been established by your workplace. If “all” seems too hard, try and select the “Top 5” hazards – with respect to their potential to cause serious harm. List the controls that you have in place. Speak internally and look externally, is there anything that has been missed, or something that others do? Yes? Document the additional control strategies into an Action Plan and plan how these can be implemented into your operations.
  • Establish an induction program. This may include a “buddy” being assigned to “new” and/or “young” workers. Ensure the induction includes an overview of your safety program and the operational activities that the worker will undertake.
  • Consider safety when engaging contractors. Workplaces often engage contractors to support processes that the workplace is not familiar with, which often means new hazards are introduced to the workplace. Prior to engaging contractors, along with price, seek information from those you are about to engage to understand how they will maintain that safe working environment that you have established. Let them know what you need them to do, and ask them what they need you to do, to help them be safe while working with you.
  • Ensure your implementation is sustainable. Don’t rely on just one person. Spreadsheets and folders can be effective if you are organised, however, are difficult to maintain visibility when tasks are due – or more importantly, when tasks are missed. Web-based platforms such as Safety Champion Software will support visibility of your health and safety program, guide and remind you when deadlines and key milestones approach.
  • Consider safety as part of your procurement process. Before you buy anything, consider the safety implications. Don’t limit this to equipment, machinery, computers – extended this to services as well. Don’t make safety an afterthought.

We would be interested to hear your thoughts, questions or fears.

 

If like us, you would like to interrogate the data on prosecutions, we would be more than happy to share an unlocked copy of the data with you – simply Contact Us. Alternatively, send an email to info@actionohs.com.au, or phone 1300 101 OHS (647) explaining you’d like a copy of the prosecutions data.

The War on Safety Webinar Series

Recognising a pressing need for small and medium sized businesses to access us­­­eful and targeted advice about health and safety, Action OHS Consulting has developed a free four-part webinar series titled the War on Safety to assist. It launches 8 August 2018. 

 

Since this webinar series is now over – we’re offering access to the recordings. Interested? Click here.

 

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. 

 

The series aims to fight through the perceived complexity of health and safety laws to provide free resources, practical tips and an understandable interpretation of the legislation.

 

We’ve had a lot of feedback that the title of the webinar series is a little dramatic! But it really does represent the frustrations of many small businesses out there”, says Director and Principal OHS Consultant, Craig Salter.

 

“Generally, SMEs think they need to adopt a big business approach to safety, and as such, become overwhelmed by where to start. This often means that they sit on their hands and hope nothing goes wrong. Through our interactions, we regularly hear from SMEs that they don’t know where to turn to for information or support. This is really why we’ve designed much of our business around supporting these types of businesses, and why we’ve developed initiatives like this webinar series to assist”.

 

After working with over 500 Australian businesses over the last five years, Action OHS Consulting has designed the series based on the many frustrations and challenges SMEs experience when trying to comply with the laws.

 

Armed with over 50 years of collective knowledge, the consultants at Action OHS Consulting will deliver quick 30-minute webinars providing much needed insight on exactly how SMEs can manage their health and safety duties to work in line with the legislation, and importantly protect their people from harm.

 

The series will debunk the misconceptions commonly associated with good workplace health and safety practice. At the end of the series, businesses will have the knowledge and confidence to establish a safety system suitable for their business.

 

Action OHS Consulting will co-host the series with their sister organisation Safety Champion – a software solution purposely built for the SME market.

 

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

 

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Safety Champion Software | Increased success and growth in 2018

The Action OHS Consulting team has developed a cloud-based OHS software solution that supports businesses with health and safety management and compliance. With over 250 workplaces already using the system – including a number of Australian-based global retailers reaching beyond Australia into New Zealand, Asia, UK, and USA – the solution is seeing considerable success and growth into 2018.

 

Why?

Because, importantly, it is a solution that not only speaks to safety professionals but also to businesses without dedicated health and safety personnel or resources.

 

How does it work for non-health and safety people?

The solution comes with over 100 ready-to-go templates and workflows – including a complete and fully configurable Safety Manual, which has been aligned with the international standard to provide guidance to businesses about what tasks to complete. But what’s more, as a health and safety consulting company, our experienced consultants can ensure that these configurable health and safety documents are aligned with the needs of any business. This ensures that the implementation of the system is practical, appropriate and clear for a non-health and safety person. 

It is here where Safety Champion sets itself apart from the other software products that are available. Safety Champion is more than just software. It is a holistic solution developed by health and safety professionals, which can guide businesses towards better health and safety practices. The Action OHS Consulting team are on the ground working with Australian businesses every day. We have seen the frustrations businesses experience trying to comply with the laws and we know what is needed.

 

“We know you want Safety Manuals to ensure consistency in practices, and we know that you want guidance on what tasks or activities you need to complete – whether this be to manage compliance, investigations post incident, notification on training, insurance or chemical safety data sheet expiry. So, we have built these into Safety Champion for you. It’s simple.”

 

So, essentially, Safety Champion was created to replace the reliance on the Safety Manual – which we often observe is sitting on a shelf, collecting dust and not being used by anyone!

We know that the large majority of people want to do the right thing. But, historically, the problem has been knowing what the right thing is. To ensure ongoing sustainability, we have aimed to build in independence. Safety Champion will ensure that that your health and safety system can be managed by you, and will be followed through even if you don’t have access to a safety officer or one of our consultants.

 

Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t! Interested in finding out more about Safety Champion OHS Software? Simply fill out a Contact Us request and one of our experienced and qualified health and safety consultants will be in contact.

Job Opportunity – OHS Consultant (VIC) [closing 5 April 2017]

We have an exciting opportunity for a safety consultant looking to apply their skill and learn how to become an effective safety practitioner to join our team. Whilst this is a junior / entry consulting position, you will be tasked with supporting key clients which include a mix of small- and medium-sized organisations, government departments and a number of Australia’s most iconic businesses. In addition you will be exposed to, and have the ability to support and influence the direction of our cloud-based safety software solution Safety Champion Software. This exciting opportunity to join the Action OHS Consulting team and offers the chance to become a key team member as we transition to a medium enterprise.

Who we are: Action OHS Consulting is a health and safety consulting business and software development firm that delivers operational and strategic support, advice and solutions to our clients primarily in Victoria and NSW. In addition, we have been approved to deliver WorkSafe Victoria’s Approved Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Training. An overview of some of our current and past clients can be found here – Action OHS Consulting Clients.

Your Key Responsibilities: You will be working directly with small- and medium-sized organisations to provide operational support to assist them to address their health and safety legislative needs. This may include:

  • Developing Health and Safety Documentation (e.g. Policy and Procedures)
  • Developing Safe Work Method Statements / Safe Operating Procedures across a range of industries (e.g. manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, etc.)
  • Consulting with clients regarding the development of documentation
  • Facilitating/Leading Risk Assessments
  • Undertaking Workstation / Ergonomic Assessments
  • Leading the commissioning of our cloud-based software Safety Champion into workplaces
  • Supporting Lead Auditors undertake Safety Audits and Safety Gap Analysis Reviews.

You will be supported throughout your employment, working under the direction of our Senior Consultants until you have the skills and confidence to support the client yourself.

Crucial to your success in this role will be your ability to effectively: communicate, problem solve and influence. In addition, you will have: excellent attention to detail, effective writing skills and have the capability to work to deadlines. Please advise how you address these “softer-skills” in your cover letter.

 

This position will provide you with an opportunity to learn and develop your skills as an OHS Practitioner. In addition, you will have the ability to directly contribute to the day-to-day running of an incredibly successful and forward thinking OHS consulting business. An amazing growth  opportunity.

 

Qualifications and Knowledge: As this is a junior consulting role in health and safety, we anticipate that the candidate will have either:

  • 2 years or more, OHS experience + Cert IV OHS; or
  • Tertiary Qualifications in OHS.

Qualifications that will be highly regarded include, one or more of the following:

  • Tertiary Qualifications in an Allied Health or Human Movement discipline
  • Lead OHS Management System Auditor Training
  • Certificate IV Training and Assessment.

Previous experience working in consulting, Return-to-Work and Injury Management, or self-insurance would be beneficial.

Salary Package: $65,000 to $90,000 based on a combination of qualifications and past experience.

The role is available for applicants seeking a full-time or a part-time role. Those seeking a part-time role should be able to provide a minimum of 3 days per week and provide flexible working arrangements to suit organisational and client needs.

How to Apply: Apply now by sending your resume and cover letter to info@actionohs.com.au by COB Wednesday 5 April 2017.

If you have any questions regarding this role, or wish to find out how Action OHS Consulting and Safety Champion Software continues to develop excellent relationships with our clients to assist them achieve safety excellence please do not hesitate to contact us | 1300 101 647.

 

Health and Safety Prosecutions: 2016 Summary for Victoria & NSW

Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners should maintain oversight of to identify trends. This article provides an overview of the prosecutions listed by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW for Calendar Year 2016 as of 28 February 2017.

 

During 2016, over $10,000,000.00 in fines were issued to businesses and workers in Victoria and NSW following breaches to health and safety legislation.

 

Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation

Calendar Year 2016 saw a total of 91 health and safety prosecutions in Victoria and 35 prosecutions in NSW. When compared to 2015, this is an increase in Victoria (6) and reduction in NSW (17).

Total Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016

Within Victoria:

  • 83 prosecutions were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 only;
  • 1 prosecution was recorded against the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 only;
  • 3 prosecutions were recorded against the OHS Regulations 2007 only;
  • 3 prosecutions involved both the OHS Act 2004 and the OHS Regulations 2007; and
  • 1 prosecution involved both the OHS Act 2004 and the Dangerous Goods Act 1985.

In addition, there were 25 prosecutions associated with the Workers Compensation legislation.

Within NSW:

  • 1 prosecution was recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 (this is compared to 21 prosecutions in 2015); and
  • 22 prosecutions were recorded against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The reduction in the prosecutions related to the OHS Act 2000 in NSW from 21 in calendar year 2015 to 1 in 2016 is related to this Act being superseded as of 1 January 2012 (5 years prior to 31 December 2016). Both the average and median time for a prosecution to occur in NSW (from the date of incident) where an outcome was established in 2016 was approximately 2 years and 8 months; the maximum time for prosecution being 5 years and 1 month (followed by 4 years and 2 months).

 

Prosecutions: An Overview of the Health and Safety Fines Issued

Year on year, both the average fine and median fine increased in both Victoria and NSW. The average fine exceeded $50,000 in both states. The average and median fines were greater NSW.

Average and Median Fine Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016

In NSW each prosecution resulted in a fine. In Victoria, 93 fines were issued. This equates to 80% of prosecutions resulting in a “financial” fine. This is compared to 69% of the prosecutions in 2015. When considering the total direct cost associated with the the prosecution (e.g. court costs being issued, court funds being assigned, etc.), all prosecutions in Victoria were financially impacted. Outside of issuing fines, WorkSafe Victoria issued 6 Enforceable Undertakings (this is compared to 7 Enforceable Undertakings being issued in 2015). In these cases, the Enforceable Undertaking is a legally binding agreement between WorkSafe Victoria and the employer. The employer is obliged to carry out the specific activities outlined in the undertaking. Such scenarios ensure that the workplace implement agreed corrective actions.

With respect to fines, the maximum fines for both Victoria and NSW increased year on year. The maximum fines issued to a workplace were associated with the following events:

  • The offender failed to provide a safe system of work which resulted in an employee being crushed by a trailer carrying a 20 foot shipping container when undertaking duties associated with his role – Victoria: $1,000,000.
  • A worker was fatally injured when he fell approximately 5 metres through a penetration at a construction site – NSW: $425,000.

Maximum Fine Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016

 

It is not just businesses that are being prosecuted in relation to health and safety breaches

If you were of the belief that health and safety prosecutions were limited to corporations- think again. In 2016, 10% and 34% of prosecutions were issued to workers in Victoria and NSW respectively.

Distribution of Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016

 

The reason behind fines issued to workers in NSW being on average 382% greater than those issued to workers in Victoria may be associated with the harmonised health and safety legislation clearly defining:

  • (i) who the Officer within a business is; in addition to,
  • (ii) outlining the positive due-diligence duties placed on these officers.

Worker Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016

In NSW there were three (3) workers at the Officer level who were issued with fines greater than $50,000.00:

  • A worker was fatally injured when the tractor he was using to slash grass rolled over, crushing him – NSW: $160,000;
  • A worker was fatally injured when he fell approximately 5 metres through a penetration at a construction site – NSW: $85,500; and,
  • A worker was seriously injured when he fell 3-4 meters to the ground at a residential construction site.

This is compared to the maximum fine being issued in Victoria which was $15,000 plus costs of $2,000. In this instance the prosecution was associated with the following event:

  • An employee was performing unscheduled maintenance on plant and equipment that did not have adequate guarding. The employee had not received any information, instruction or training with respect to maintenance. He sustained a partial amputation of the right arm.

Interestingly, with respect to prosecutions against the Workers Compensation legislation in Victoria, in addition to workers being required to pay back any money accessed via fraudulent activity (which equated to a total of approximately $700,000), of the 19 prosecutions, 43% of workers were issued with a suspended imprisonment sentence. The average fine was $1,977.60.

 

What Criteria are Regularly Associated with Health and Safety Prosecutions?

With respect to the criteria/codes that lead to the prosecution – the top 10 criteria, as defined by WorkSafe Victoria, are outlined below.

Codes for Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016_Table

Codes for Health and Safety Prosecutions 2016

These criteria are consistent with 2015, with the exception of “Failure to conduct a risk/hazard identification” being added to the list and “Failure to notify VWA of a notifiable incident” being removed from the list.

The introduction of “Failure to conduct a risk/hazard identification” places a clear duty on workplaces to establish explicit and robust processes that identify hazardous situations. Whilst many businesses can demonstrate an ability to manage risk once a hazard has been identified, this criteria requires workplaces to proactively look for hazards that are associated with their workplace activities.

In addition to these criteria, other criteria noteworthy to report on includes Traffic Management and Forklifts both being associated with 8% of prosecutions. During 2016, internally, Action OHS Consulting observed a rise in improvement notices being issued by WorkSafe Victoria due to new client contact as a result of forklift use and traffic management practices.

 

Lessons your Business can Take from these Reported Health and Safety Prosecutions

Failure to provide a safe system of work, safe working environment and information, instruction, training or supervision were associated with one quarter of all prosecutions. To improve your safety performance, and learn from “errors” from the past, workplaces should proactively:

  • Assess their workplace risks. Consider listing all foreseeable hazards in the workplace, and document the current controls that have been established by your workplace. At this time, consider additional control strategies. Document these additional control strategies into an Action Plan to support implementation.
  • Consider safety as part of your procurement process. Don’t make safety an afterthought.
  • Consider safety when engaging contractors. Workplaces often engage contractors to support processes that they are not familiar with, which means new hazards may be introduced to the workplace. Prior to engaging contractors, along with cost, seek information from those you are about to engage to ensure that they can maintain the safe working environment that you have established.
  • Establish an induction program. This may include a “buddy” being assigned to new and/or young workers. Ensure the induction includes an overview of your safety program and the operational activities that the worker will undertake.
  • Identify how you will manage implementation. Spreadsheets and folders can be effective if you are organised, however, as technology solutions evolve, web-based platforms such as Safety Champion Software will support, guide and remind you when deadlines and/or key milestones approach.

Apart from one of your workers being injured, a workplace incident and/or prosecution can have a negative impact on operations. Many large organisations, as part of their contractor and/or supplier programs, require businesses to report on their health and safety performance in their Tender applications or Invitations to Supply. A prosecution is likely to rule your organisation out of future engagements. In addition, a workplace that has been prosecuted may see this impact their brand. Not only may this see the general public decide to purchase from your competitors, it may also see your ability to access and retain talent damaged where workers have the ability to “choose” their employer of choice.

If you are like the team at Action OHS Consulting and Safety Champion Software and get a real kick out of interrogating data to make sense of trends; a link to the health and safety prosecutions in Victoria and NSW for 2016 can be found by following this link: Consolidated Raw Data from Victoria and NSW Health and Safety Prosecutions: Calendar Year 2016. This information was compiled by our data analysis from the information available at both the WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW websites.

If you would like more detail on our analysis, or provide us with an overview of your analysis or the trends that you see, please don’t hesitate to send an email to info@actionohs.com.au or contact us by telephone on 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647.

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

OHS Consulting Opportunities (Melb, VIC)

Are you interested in a health and safety consulting role where you get to role your sleeves up, get your hands dirty and make a difference?

You will be a self-starter who has a demonstrated ability to provide both considered and proactive health and safety advice. Your decisions will be based on reason, with a focus on operational and commercial impacts, legislative compliance, not just “the safety stick”.

Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential – it is the basis of what we do and what health and safety consultation is built-on. As you would expect, the ability to think on your feet and multi-task will always be an advantage in the consulting environment.

The positions that we have available, call for driven people and people are invested in making a difference. The quality of our work has resulted in rapid growth which means we are in the process of considering roles for consultants to support our growing list of SMEs, government, publicly listed and privately owned businesses.

Attitudes which we are looking for? Great ones! Attitude is how we have built our team, so if you’re excited to work with us, that’s a great start.

Proven experience and skills that we would like to see include:

  • Actively working within an operational WHS/OHS role (or roles!); and
  • Principal and/or Lead OHSMS Auditor experience; or
  • Safety Management System Development; or
  • An Allied Health (i.e. Physio, OT, Exercise Physiology) background to support our ongoing delivery of workstation ergonomics assessments and manual handling advice.

Skills wise, qualifications we would see you having:

  • Tertiary Qualifications in OHS;
  • Membership with an industry body such as Exemplar Global , SIA, AIOH, HFESA,  ESSA;
  • OHSMS Auditor Training;
  • Cert IV in TAE.

We have offices located in Sydney and Melbourne. All roles are based in Melbourne (Richmond). While you will be based in Melbourne, you will need to be prepared to travel using your own vehicle and/or occasionally staying overnight. The number of roles we have, and what these roles look like are not set in stone; full-time part-time or freelance – we will consider them all. Our goal is to find the right person or people to support our amazing clients, not to try and fit a mould.

If you would like to apply, or gather more information regarding the opportunity; please do not hesitate to contact us: info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 647.

 

Building a Safe Workplace Together

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Prosecutions: January to April 2016 for NSW & Victoria

Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners should maintain oversight of to identify trends and maintain awareness of foreseeable hazards. This article provides an overview of the prosecutions listed by WorkSafe Victoria and SafeWork NSW between January and April 2016.

 

Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation

The first 4 months of 2016 saw a total of 42 health and safety prosecutions in Victoria and a total of 6 prosecutions in NSW.

 

Within Victoria:

  • 40 prosecutions were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • 1 prosecution was recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
  • 1 prosecution involved both the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Dangerous Goods Act 1985.

Within NSW:

  • 1 prosecution was recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
  • 5 prosecutions were recorded against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

 

Prosecutions: An Overview of Fines

The average fine in both states came in at $83,000. The median fines varied significantly. The maximum fine issued by each state regulator is as follows:

  • Victoria – $750,000
  • NSW – $187,500.

 

 

In NSW each prosecution resulted in a monetary fine. In Victoria 40 fines were issued (95% of the total prosecutions). In addition to the fines, WorkSafe Victoria issued 2 Enforceable Undertakings. In these cases, the enforceable undertaking is a legally binding agreement between WorkSafe Victoria and the employer. The employer is obliged to carry out the specific activities outlined in the undertaking. Such scenarios ensure that the workplace implement agreed corrective actions.

 

Prosecutions: What is the Cause and where are the Gaps?

With respect to the criteria/codes that lead to prosecution – the top 10 criteria, as defined by WorkSafe Victoria, are outlined below.

  1. Failure to provide a safe working environment – 43%
  2. Failure to provide a safe system of work – 38%
  3. Failure to provide information, instruction, training or supervision – 26%
  4. Falls/work at height offences – 21%
  5. Crush injuries 19%
  6. Failure to conduct a risk/hazard assessment – 17%
  7. Guarding – 17%
  8. Failure to conduct a risk/hazard identification – 12%
  9. Failure to provide and maintain plant – 12%
  10. Unguarded plant – 12%.

 

Prosection Criteria-Code_Jan-April 2016

 

Combined, failure to provide a safe system of work and safe working environment resulted in over one third of the prosecutions. This outlines the requirement for workplaces to actively:

  • Assess their workplace risks. 
  • Consider safety when procuring equipment – how effective is guarding?
  • Considering safety when engaging contractors.

It is noteworthy to comment that six (6) of the prosecutions in Victoria were associated with the failure of the workplace to isolate energy when repairing and/or cleaning equipment. All workplaces that have plant and equipment should strongly consider establishing Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) in consultation with their operators, and ensure that their workers and contractors have been trained and competent in these.

 

Prosecutions: Of Interest

Some prosecutions that may be of interest may include:

  • Once the loading of a truck was complete, the truck driver asked the employee operating the forklift to lift him up onto the truck on the tynes of the forklift. The forklift operator stated that he knew it was the wrong thing to do but he did it anyway. Whilst being lifted, the truck driver’s right hand became entangled in the mast and mast channel of the forklift. The truck driver suffered bruising and some lacerations to his hand, but did not receive treatment as an inpatient in hospital. The offender pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $18,000 and to pay costs of $3,895.
  • A workplace was transferring a 660 litre bin loaded with cardboard through an Automated Car Park Station. While waiting in the car park, an elderly women was struck by the corner of a 660 litre wheeled waste storage bin loaded with cardboard. The woman was knocked to the floor. The offender pleaded guilty and was, without conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $50,000.00 and to pay costs of $4,564.00. It was reasonably practicable for the offender to control the risks to health and safety associated with the task by ensuring bins were not overfilled with cardboard, using a spotter when transporting bins through public areas and scheduling of loaded bin movements out of hours to minimise risks to the public. 
  • A manufacturing company that produces materials for the construction industry was sentenced to pay a fine of $40,000.00 and to pay costs of $3,975.00 following a worker breaking their leg after the 500 kg material collapsed while undertaking the task. The “task” involved two (2) employees lifting and loading a suspended material weighing 500 kilograms onto a flatbed truck. There was no safe system of work associated with the task of lifting, transporting and loading facade modules at the workplace. It was reasonably practicable for the offender to control the risk by implementing a safe operating procedure for lifting, transporting and loading materials which included the identification of the risks and the associated control measures.
  • A company that provides cleaning services to various businesses via engagement of subcontracted cleaners. A cleaner was engaged to clean at a meat and poultry production business. The cleaner was cleaning a mixer (which had an interlocked grate at the top, but access via the exit point at the bottom) which mixed meat. The cleaning company failed to ensure that the workplace was safe, by failing to ensure that the workplace where the cleaning was to take place provided adequate information, instruction and training to the subcontractors, in relation to the lockout/tagout system for isolation of the mixer prior to dismantling and cleaning it, and failed to prohibit its subcontractors from working until such adequate information, instruction and training was provided. The cleaner was cleaning the mixer with a hose and a scourer and put his hand with the scourer through the bottom opening to remove the debris. The mixer began to operate and his left hand was caught by a rotating auger, severing three fingers, only two of which were able to be surgically re-attached. The offender pleaded guilty and was, with conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $20,000 and to pay costs of $7,000.
  • An employee, who was given the job of preparing the rig for work, was unfamiliar with its controls and had never installed or been trained in how to install the 1.8 metre leader extension which had to be fitted to the mast. Despite reporting his concerns to his supervisor, work on preparing the rig continued. As a result, 10 of the 16 bolts needed to secure the leader extension to the rig were not fitted. Later that day the deceased was working at the top of the rig when the mast snapped causing the deceased to fall to the ground, along with a 20 metre section of the mast. A conviction was imposed and a fine of $750,000.00.
  • An employee suffered serious arm and hand injuries which required hospitalisation after attempting to clean a cannelloni dough mixer. The guarding on the dough mixer did not prevent access to the danger area, due to the interlock device that was fitted not isolating power to the rotating paddle inside the feeder hopper. There were no policies, procedures or instructions for the cannelloni dough mixer. The incident was not reported to WorkSafe immediately or in writing in 48 hours, and the incident scene was not preserved. The offender pleaded guilty and was, with conviction, sentenced to pay a fine of $30,000.00 and costs of $2,557.00.
  • A 15 year old employee of a labour hire business was driving a forklift. Three children (two of whom had no prior farm work experience), were left unsupervised and the forklift was accessible to those three children in that the keys were left in the ignition. There was a risk of serious injury or death to employees using the forklift without being licenced, and that leaving the keys in the forklift allowed unauthorised access to the forklift. The deceased was killed when the forklift he was driving tipped over causing fatal injuries. The offender pleaded guilty and was to pay a fine of $450,000.

It is worth mentioning that 10% of the prosecutions were the result of workplaces that failed to notify WorkSafe Victoria that a notifiable incident that occurred in their workplace, and 7% of the prosecutions were the result of workplaces that failed to preserve the incident site. Both of these requirements are expressed clearly within Section 38 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. If your workplace is not familiar with what incidents require notification, or, if there is no reference in your procedures on how to manage a notifiable incident – this is something you should consider reviewing immediately. Please Contact Us if you require direction.

Finally, apart from legal fees, fines and a negative prosecution result, a conviction can comprise future work opportunities and the ability for your organisation to participate in tenders. Why? Many contractor agreements these days request that you provide information outlining your:

  • Hazard management processes (i.e. SWMSs, JSAs, etc.);
  • Worker competencies (e.g. licences, etc.);
  • Insurance details (i.e. Workers Compensation, Public Indemnity and Professional Liability); and,
  • Prosecution history (from convictions to regulator notices received).

Safe workplace practices will reduce your workplace’s likelihood of incident and/or injury, and support your workplace growing. The output being a productive workplace that provides workers with both confidence and job security.

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Planning: Safety in Design – When and What to Consider?

The 2nd ‘Safety in Design’ Conference was held recently in Melbourne during May 2016. As the name suggests, the topics discussed on the day centered on the importance of considering and planning for safety in areas such as:

  • process and functional safety (e.g. when designing plant and/or guarding);
  • construction of new and/or refurbishment of buildings;
  • purchase of new plant; and
  • designing guarding for current plant (i.e. retro-fitting) – which has been raised by a number of our clients in recent times.

The presenters focused on the challenges of safety in design and the importance of balancing the risks and costs of today, whilst anticipating the needs of tomorrow through a “whole of life” design review. Whole of life considerations that are often forgotten about, include:

  • repair and maintenance;
  • cleaning;
  • training and licence requirements;
  • monitoring requirements (e.g. noise and/or dust); or
  • decommissioning, etc.

A key message from the conference was that safety needs to be considered at the concept stage, when decisions are made about the ‘intended purpose’ and/or ‘required deliverable’, as opposed to safety being considered only after the design commences. The following example was shared which gave this thinking some perspective:

If safety in design was considered after a decision was made to have a rail-road crossing, the safety considerations will be specific to the design, and in line with the “agreed deliverable”. The safety aspects of the design would make the rail-road crossing as safe as possible – it would include booms, lights, signals, etc. However, wouldn’t it be better if safety in design was considered at the concept stage? If the “goal” was to prevent cars and trains impacting, safer solutions such as a bridge and/or underpass may have been an option for consideration.

 

 

Being consulted with in the concept phased resonates daily in the workplaces we support. We recently had a client contact us to gather advice about what they needed to ensure was in place prior to purchasing a forklift, due to their walkie stacker: (1) not being able to access the top level of racking, and (2) not being able to reach-forward. After reviewing the “efficiency” that could be generated across a small floor area where load shifting occurred for less than 2 hours per day, against the hazards that would need to be controlled if a forklift was introduced (e.g. mobile plant moving at faster speeds, licencing requirements, fuel onsite – resulting in the management of hazardous chemicals, etc.), the client started to investigate walkie stacker options that provided the result / goal they were after. 

 

Safety in design (and procurement) should be considered when the “goals” of the design are being considered, not once the “finalised deliverable” has been prescribed.

 

Consideration of safety in the concept phase will support elimination, or provide the best opportunity to significantly reduce risk of whole of life design issues with an item of plant or a building. From our view point as health and safety consultants, past experience continues to demonstrate that trying to manage and reduce hazards post implementation can:

  • be financially expensive. Retro-fitting requires a new plan(s), sourcing materials and trades for smaller/one-off jobs.
  • be resource demanding. Someone at your workplace (or many), will be required to focus their time on a project that could have been resolved earlier. Their time will be utilised due to their involvement in supporting risk assessments, construction, managing contractors, etc. – everything can’t be “outsourced”. In addition, time will be spent training your workers in the new practices and/or processes.
  • impact safety culture. Your workers may feel that their voices are not considered as “known” hazards continue to reappear; as opposed to be managed better, or eliminated. 

We understands that there is incredible pressure on business owners to look for cost saving measures when purchasing new plant, leasing new premises, or refurbishing current premises in order to remain profitable. Therefore, managing risk by considering safety in the concept phase of the design, when project “goals” are being agreed on makes absolute sense.

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Training: Improving the Impact of your Training – Blocked vs Random Practice

Training is critical for all organisations to ensure that workers have the appropriate knowledge and skill to competently complete the inherent requirements of their role safely.

What training looks like varies considerably and will often depend on the training requirement. We often ask the question to our clients “what consideration did you make when developing the training program in your workplace?” Often, their response is limited. This article takes a look at “blocked” practice versus “random” practice.

In a sporting context, everyone has been exposed to blocked and random practice. Think about going to the golf driving range, shooting a basketball or netball. When training to execute the skill, do you think it would be better to act out Scenario A 10 times, before moving onto Scenario B for 10 attempts, and then onto Scenario C for 10 attempts (this approach is referred to as blocked practice); or, would it be better to act out Scenario A once, Scenario B once and Scenario C once and repeat this 10 times (this is referred to as random practice)?

The answer is dependent on whether you were assessing the performance in the training, or the performance at a later date.

Blocked practice should produce better performance than random practice during the initial rehearsal/training.

 

Blocked practice is an effective way for the participant to “understand” the components of the individual skill. Once this skill is understood, it is random practice that facilitates the participant’s ability to retain the skill. 

 

Why? During random practice, the participant is required to fully focus on the skill and replay the entire motor pattern. Blocked practice sees the participant make small adjustments to the motor pattern, in line with how they executed the skill on the last occasion. In a “real” life situation, do you have the ability to make minor adjustments based on your last performance?

When designing effective training, consider the knowledge of the participants:

  • If the task is new for the worker(s), you may want to schedule training activities to transition from a blocked to a random approach when developing the training materials.
  • If it is re-training and the workers are familiar with the skill, you may want to schedule all training activities in line with random practice.

In addition, you will need to consider what do the attendees’ work tasks looks like? If their work requires constant variation in the task; random practice is likely to be more effective. Golf is a great example here, you often hear about players frustrated as to why their “form” at the driving range does not translate onto the golf course. The reason for this is, on the golf course they only get one shot/chance to execute the skill (and that shot counts). Whilst at the driving range, they implicitly make minor adjustments (to their motor pattern) between attempts, using the knowledge of their last attempt. This means that the consequence of errors is not as visible. It also means that the “form” they have described on the driving range, has been learnt from the adjustments they have made from their earlier shots during that practice session.

How can this be better managed? At the driving range, consider changing clubs or the scenario for each shot, train how you play. This is the same for training in the workplace – is there variation when your workers operate machines, or undertake certain activities?

To support learning, where appropriate, a key consideration for the person developing the training is to move away from a blocked approach to a randomised approach. Whilst challenging for your participants initially – it will improve their skills in the future.

Another aspect to consider is how your competency assessments are structured? If the operator can continue to attempt until they “pass”, does this demonstrate competency, or does this demonstrate that they have an ability to use the feedback provided from the knowledge of the last result? The importance of getting this right will depend on the impacts to your workplace of the “error”.

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Technology: 10 Questions to Consider When Purchasing OHS Software

Businesses of all sizes struggle with managing their workplace safety responsibilities. When operations are busy, activities which have been initiated to ensure that the established risk controls are in place and working can often be forgotten. Let’s face it, there should be a reason why these activities have been scheduled, and if this reason is to protect the health and safety of workers, contractors or visitors, they should not be placed on the “to do later” list. Increased workloads, being “busy”, or “forgetting” is no justification.

 

At every workplace there should be a well understood reason for every health and safety task that is being undertaking. If the reason you are undertaking the task is not understood, maybe now is time to review those tasks, rather than just “forgetting” about them?

 

 

In addition to “tasks” being completed; the management of “the evidence” of tasks being completed is often unstructured. 

Software can assist. Software does assist. It is common place now for OHS Software programs to automatically email the identified workplace stakeholders, with reminders of when important tasks are scheduled for completion. OHS Software programs should then provide the workplace with a way to manage the OHS record(s) on completion. The simplicity of OHS Software means that it is something that many workplaces are now considering to introduce to support the visibility of their OHS Program and establish workplace efficiencies.

Whilst there are many software applications on the market, all OHS Software is not the same. The majority of the OHS Software programs that are on the market are “commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)”. This means that they have been made, ready for sale to the public. It means that they are not developed specifically to a workplace – that includes your workplace. They have been designed to be implemented easily into workplaces with minimal customisation. This means that the “80-20 rule” should be considered (i.e. at a minimum, the OHS Software program should be able to effectively deliver 80% of the outputs you require). However, with careful planning and by following the considerations below, you should be in a position to elevate that 80 closer to 100 – by identifying the OHS Software program that is “more-right” for your workplace’s needs.

Procuring an OHS Software program should be considered a long-term relationship. To ensure that you get the right OHS Software program for your business, it is absolutely essential that you do your homework first. Listed below, in no particular order, are ten (10) questions you should consider, before purchasing a “web-based” OHS Software program:

  • Are you looking for an “OHS Software package” or “OHS Policy and Procedures”? OHS Software packages are effectively “frameworks”. This means that your workplace will be required to develop the OHS Policy and Procedures additional to the OHS Software licence. Some packages will provide a “Manual” that is in line with their OHS Software program (this is rare). If a Manual is provided, ask your supplier how much work will be required to align the Manual to meet your workplaces operational needs, and if any additional documentation may be required.
  • Are you looking at OHS Software or “Web-based” OHS Software? Besides being antiquated, OHS Software that is loaded onto individual computers (think the “old” Microsoft Office), does not have the “flexibility” of web-based OHS Software. The user is locked into being at their computer to access their OHS Management System. Web-based OHS Software will also allow users to access their OHS Management System anywhere, and on any device (where they have access to the internet). A bonus of web-based OHS Software is that the supplier should provide you with “free” automatic updates as the OHS Software develops – this cannot be said for Microsoft Office!
  • How easy is the OHS Software to use? This may sounds straight forward, but it is often overlooked as the procurement team gets caught up in the initial excitement of the “new” and “shinny” software program that is going to make “everyone’s” life easier. While some OHS Software packages may look great when demonstrated, it is important that you are considering/questioning:
    • if it provides the functionality you need?
    • does it address your business critical workplace’s needs?
    • if the user interface is clear and simple to navigate?
    • will your users, who may have varying levels of computer literacy, be able to easily use the OHS Software?
  • Are there limitations surrounding the number of workers (Users) who can access the OHS Software? The evidence tells us that health and safety is about the collective, not individuals, at a workplace. A number of OHS Software programs place limitations explicitly around the number of user licences a workplace has access to, or implicitly does this by “significant” increases in their pricing when multiple licences are requested. If there are limitations around the number of users who can access your OHS Software, ask the question…

…how will our workplace live the mantra that “safety is everyone’s responsibility”? 

  • Does the OHS Software have a lock-in period? If the OHS Software package effectively delivers all of the benefits that you signed-up to during the initial procurement, it makes sense that you would continue to use the software – right? As disclosed above, the majority of OHS Software is “Commercial off-the-shelf”, this means that the business you are looking to purchase the OHS Software from, often has not invested time in developing the software specifically for “your” workplace needs. This being the case, you should be very nervous of OHS Software suppliers that look to lock you into contract greater than 1 year. If the OHS Software: (i) behaves as promised; (ii) has effective help support; and, (ii) continues to improve in line with advances in technology, you will stay. For the majority of businesses, OHS Software does not need to be developed specifically for the organisation.
  • Can you access the OHS Software from Mobiles and Tablets? With so many organisations operating outside the traditional office setup; would workers being able to access your OHS Software from their mobile telephone and/or tablet be of benefit?
  • Does the OHS Software provide you with access to all Modules or just “some” Modules? All software can be a “tricky” to navigate. Whilst advertising a “starting” price, OHS Software providers will often charge additional fees that are “disproportional” to the initial outlay, for any extra modules that you identify in the future that could benefit your workplace as your safety program matures. Make sure you understand all potential future costs – even if you don’t think you will need them all right now. Running multiple systems due to cost, as we often see, is confusing and disorganised.
  • What does the OHS Software “Help” support look like? Before financially investing in an OHS Software system, you need to ensure that there is an easy way for questions and/or concerns that you have to be raised and managed. As a minimum, the OHS Software should provide you with access to:
    • a “Help” Support Manual.
    • the ability to raise issue either by email and/or telephone.
    • Note: It may also be in your best interest to understand if there is any cost associated with any help requests that you make.
  • What happens to “your” data if you decide that the OHS Software is no longer for you? Firstly, it is your data. Secondly, you have a legislative duty to maintain selected health and safety records. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that you have access to these. Can you export or download the data yourself? Or does the OHS Software provider charge you retrieval costs?
  • Does the OHS Software have compatibility with other IT Systems? All software should support efficiency. With workplaces typically having at least one IT Program established prior to implementing an OHS Software package, it is worth identifying how the OHS Software package can align with your current IT system(s)? For example, will you be required to manage employee information across multiple platforms (i.e. your payroll system and your OHS Software package)? Or will the two (2) packages be able to communicate with each other? If the OHS Software cannot directly communicate with other IT Programs you have installed, what other options have been provided to you to support efficiency? For example, is there the ability to import data?

This is by no means an exhaustive list and it should not cover the full breadth of your review. If you would like further support, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. With regards to additional considerations, we will look to provide more information in future blogs. If you have any feedback on your experience with procuring OHS Software, we would love to hear from you.

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Prosecutions: 2015 Summary for NSW & Victoria

Workplace prosecutions are something that health and safety practitioners should maintain oversight of to identify trends. This article provides an overview of the prosecutions listed by WorkSafe Victoria and Safe Work NSW for 2015 as of 15 March 2016.  

 

Prosecutions: Numbers and Related Legislation

2015 saw a total of 85 health and safety prosecutions in Victoria and 52 prosecutions 52 in NSW.

Prosecutions NSW and VIC 2015_Updated MAR16

Within Victoria:

  • 80 prosecutions were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • 2 prosecutions were recorded against the Dangerous Goods Act 1985
  • 1 prosecution was recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
  • 1 prosecution involved both the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
  • 1 prosecution involved both the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Dangerous Goods Act 1985.

Within NSW:

  • 21 prosecutions were recorded against the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
  • 30 prosecutions were recorded against the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • 1 prosecution was against the Explosives Act 2003.

Interestingly, whilst the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 in NSW was superseded as of 1 January 2012, approximately 40% of the prosecutions listed in NSW during 2015 were against the superseded Act.

 

Prosecutions: An Overview of Fines

The average fine in both states exceeded $50,000. In NSW the average fine was only slightly greater when comparing between the current and superseded legislation; however, the amounts for both: (i) median fine ($80,000 v  $47,250), and (ii) the greatest fine (412,500 v $300,00), were greater when prosecuted against the current legislation. This is in line with the guidance that was provided on enactment, that penalties would increase when the harmonised Work Health and Safety Legislation was introduced.

 

Prosecutions Fines NSW and VIC 2015_Updated_MAR16

 

Prosecutions Fines NSW Median Max

 

In NSW each prosecution resulted in a monetary fine. In Victoria 59 fines were issued (69% of the total prosecutions). In addition to the fines, WorkSafe Victoria issued seven (7) Enforceable Undertakings. In these cases, the enforceable undertaking is a legally binding agreement between WorkSafe Victoria and the employer. The employer is obliged to carry out the specific activities outlined in the undertaking. Such scenarios ensure that the workplace implement agreed corrective actions.

 

Prosecutions: What is the Cause and where are the Gaps?

With respect to the criteria/codes that lead to prosecution – the top 10 criteria, as defined by WorkSafe Victoria, are outlined below.

  1. Failure to provide a safe system of work – 34%
  2. Guarding – 20%
  3. Failure to provide a safe working environment – 18%
  4. Failure to notify WSV of a notifiable incident – 16%
  5. Failure to provide and maintain plant – 16%
  6. Failure to provide information, instruction, training or supervision – 13%
  7. Falls/work at height offences – 13%
  8. Crush injuries – 12%
  9. Failure to conduct a risk/hazard assessment – 8%
  10. Failure to preserve incident site – 8%.

 

Prosecutions Criteria NSW and VIC 2015_Updated_MAR16

Combined, failure to provide a safe system of work and safe working environment resulted in over half of the prosecutions. This outlines the requirement for workplaces to actively:

  • Assess their workplace risks. Workplaces should consider listing all foreseeable hazards in the workplace, and document the current controls that have been implemented to support the management of the hazard. At this time, the workplace should consider additional/ alternative control strategies. If the risk associated with the hazard can be further mitigated, this should be documented with a Safety Action Plan developed to support implementation.
  • Consider safety when procuring equipment. Often safety is an afterthought. Considering safety prior to purchasing will better ensure that controls do not require retro-fitting and/or additional equipment is not required to manage the “new” hazard presented – both having financial implications.
  • Considering safety when engaging contractors. Workplaces often engage contractors to support processes that they are not familiar with, which means new hazards may be introduced to the workplace. Prior to engaging contractors, along with price, seek information from those you are about to engage to ensure that they can maintain that safe working environment you have established.

Guarding and maintenance of plant equates for over one third of prosecutions. Guarding is a high level control that ensures there is separation between workers (and their limbs) and moving parts. Management and supervisors should be undertaking regular walk-throughs to ensure that guarding is not overridden. The guarding that management and supervisor walk past is the fatality and/ or amputation that they accept. Where guarding has been removed, management and supervisors should talk with the operators to understand the basis for this. Are operational KPIs realistic? Can processes be reviewed? Is the plant fit for the purpose that the workplace wants? Is additional equipment required?

Worth a mention is the 16% of workplaces that failed to notify WorkSafe Victoria of the notifiable incident that occurred in their workplace and the 8% of workplaces that failed to preserve the incident site. Both of these requirements are expressed clearly within the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. If your workplace is not familiar with what incidents require notification, or there is no training or reference in your procedures on how to manage a notifiable incident – it is something you should consider reviewing immediately.

Finally, apart from legal fees, fines and a negative prosecution result, the lengthy duration of legal proceedings can impact workplace resources (e.g. with conflicting focuses between the prosecution and workplace safety). The impact also flows through to other areas of the business resulting in a negative safety culture, low morale amongst workers as well as the negative impact on business development due to ‘loss of faith/brand damage’ that is perceived by the general public.  

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

 

Planning: What is your health and safety strategic plan?

Does your workplace have an OHS plan? If so, does your workplace have OHS objective and targets to support you to achieve the outputs of this plan? If you have established objectives and targets, are these periodically reviewed, evaluated and redefined (if necessary)? Or do they sit there in the background, getting reviewed ad-hoc…or worse still post incident?

 

“A target without a plan is just a wish…” 

 

When we take time to consider the statements above, it is evident that to achieve workplace safety goals requires careful and considered planning. Why then do many workplaces continue to leave their Health and Safety Program in “the hands of the Gods”?

To get started…

  • Ensure Senior Managers are aware of their legislated health and safety duties and due diligence obligations.
  • Establish stakeholders to define your workplaces health and safety objectives and targets. It is important that the objectives and targets that your workplace agrees on, are aligned to your Health and Safety Policy. When establishing targets make sure that they are:
    • S – Specific
    • M – Measurable
    • A – Achievable
    • R – Realistic
    • T – Time-framed 
      • Lead performance indicators: Measure the actions your business takes to improve performance.  They are in-process measures and can be predictive.
      • Lag performance indicators: Report on outcomes. This is an after-the-event measurement, essential for charting progress, but less effective when attempting to influence the future.
      • Note: Lead indicators often require an investment in time to implement. Generally, lead indicators require initiative and/or action prior to a result being seen by a lag indicator.
  • With consideration to your workplace’s Health and Safety Targets, establish a Safety Action Plan. Within the Safety Action Plan outline timeframes and attach responsibilities.
  • Communicate Health and Safety Targets to workplace.
  • Periodically review Health and Safety Targets and Safety Action Plan.

 

As outlined at the beginning of this newsletter, we have opened up our 2016: Safety Planning Survey to all of our friends. Complete the survey (which will remain open during April) and one of our consultants will contact you at a convenient time to discuss. Alternatively, do not hesitate to Contact Us. 

 
www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Training: Are you training for compliance or safety?

The majority of workplaces we speak with understand the need for training; however, many do not “understand” the purpose of training. Well-kept and documented training records demonstrate excellent compliance practices, not excellent training practices.

The purpose of training is not to demonstrate your records management skills; it is to ensure that your workers have been provided with the right skills to complete their job safely. Think about it for a moment; has your training been developed for you workers, or have they been developed to tick a compliance box?

Whilst your business may have well-presented training materials, do these training materials focus on all learning styles? If your training is based on paper based instructions or reading off a computer screen, you may have missed the mark for some workers. Robust training should be developed to include all learning styles. One of the most common and widely-used categorisations of learning styles is Fleming’s VARK model. This model suggests there are three learning styles:

  • Auditory:The worker learns through listening. These workers depend on hearing and speaking as their main way of learning. Auditory learners must be able to hear what is being said in order to understand. These workers may have difficulty with instructions that are written.
  • Visual:The worker learns when ideas, concepts, data and other information is associated and presented with images and techniques.
  • Kinaesthetic (Tactile):Learning takes place by the workers doing the task or role playing the task, rather than listening to how the task is done or watching a demonstration.

Whilst most workers will learn across all styles, some may be strongly aligned to one style. To ensure that training is not only a compliance exercise, look to incorporate all three learning styles into the delivery of all of your training sessions.

 

www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

Technology: Wait, there’s more “stuff” that you don’t have easy access to!

A Safety Officer’s workplace is often a nightmare of folders, disorganised paperwork, papers, folders and more folders; mixed with checklists, spreadsheets and templates. 

Action OHS Consulting is often engaged to undertake safety audits. The nervous Safety Officer that greets us is not an irregularity. Whilst there is no need to be nervous – I get it. Folders for incidents, folders for chemicals, folders full of meeting and training records, spreadsheets acting as risk registers, contractor registers and incident registers partly in Excel with the other part in either Word or Access, not to mention email chain after email chain. This form of management often means that in addition to the desktop audit, we are also engaged to visit multiple sites to “verify” safety performance.

This form of management, to the surprise of the client, regularly leads to gaps in the implementation of the Safety Management Plan that are only picked up when we are on-site. Whilst the client will continue to unsuccessfully search for the requested safety record, is this gap due to the safety record being misplaced, lost, or not completed – we will never know.

There has to be an easier way – and there is. With technology advancing, cloud and web-based solutions are becoming more relevant and accessible.

Cloud based software provides a more efficient and transparent way of working. Automated reminders and remote visibility of implementation, the days of the Safety Officer having to be on-site to “influence” safety is quickly disappearing. Influencing safety is about impacting behaviours and empowering site management to talk and manage safety ongoing. It is about understanding the ‘pain points’ associated with the implementation of your workplace’s health and safety system, with a view to continuously improve these. If a Safety Officer “needs” to be on-site for “safety to happen”; the issue is not safety; it is the knowledge and/or skills of your workplace managers.

The endless nightmare of paper files, or records stored on hard drives, shared over email – restricts the Safety Officer to do their job. It restricts the Safety Officer’s ability to access information to verify and monitor performance when they are not at the workplace.  It moves their role from being a safety leader or coach, to a safety compliance officer. It restricts their ability to influence which limits their ability to improve safety performance.

From our experience, it is obvious that most businesses are keen to take a step forward…some, however, are unsure how to.

Setting up a system that facilitates remote access to workplace specific information such as: incident records and registers; programmed tasks or events; chemical registers; and, maintenance or contractor registers, will allows the Safety Officer to monitor, gather knowledge, and then influence. If the system can also guide your workplace stakeholders of “what they need to do” by email or text message – surely this only makes implementation of your safety system more easy.

With technology progressing, change is imminent and now is an opportune time to consider if you want to lead or follow.

If you are looking to head down the technology pathway, before you start the conversation with providers, take some time to identify what “you want” from a cloud based software system. Consider your current stressors and pain points. Identify your “not negotiables” and “it would be nice if it could”. Be aware that you will be dealing with businesses that have a commercial interest in your decision, meaning that there is a lot of “slick” marketing out there designed to confuse and convince you that their option is the only fit for you. Start the conversation. Ask questions. Ask alot of questions, making sure you think about who you are dealing with. For example, are you dealing with a software company that is knowledgeable about software? Or, a safety focused company that is knowledgeable about software and safety?  

 

 www.actionohs.com.au | info@actionohs.com.au | 1300 101 OHS | 1300 101 647

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