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Why Communication is the Best Tool for Safety

Whoever first said that “silence is golden” was obviously not talking about safety measures. As employers struggle with ways to keep their workplaces as safe as possible, there is one method that has continually been proven to be the best possible tool for keeping employers and employees safe. This method is called communication, and it can save your company time, money, and grief. Yes, it’s true, a little bit of talking can go a very long way when it comes to preventing workplace accidents and injuries.

The key to making sure that your employees know what to expect in terms of safety standards, and what they should expect if your company’s standards are not being met is to educate them. Hold a staff meeting and explain to them a little bit about the safety standards that are being put into place. Teaching your staff about workplace safety, important safety procedures, and the legal codes and standards that they are being held to will ensure that they do not have an excuse for being sloppy. It also helps create a workplace environment that is more focused on safety, and more focused on being educated about what they do.

It’s also important to cultivate an environment where staff members feel safe (or even obligated) to report health and safety hazards that they see. As an employer, you cannot be everywhere that your employees are. You cannot be there to witness all the things that your employees do, no matter how hard you try. This means that you have to rely on your employees to tell you about the important things that you cannot be present to witness. Many, many workplace hazards that have caused accidents and even deaths could have been avoided if employees felt like they could openly discuss their concerns. If you have been having a hard time encouraging your staff to talk about the hazards that they’ve noticed, offer a reward program for those who keep a vigilant eye.

That being said, it’s important that your employees also get educated on their rights as your staff. You need to make it very clear that they have a right to a safe workplace, and that they have a right to feel safe while they are doing their job. This is especially true for companies that focus on industries that have been known to have high accident rates, such as coal mining, manufacturing, and construction. Many business owners who have been successful in reducing the number of accidents in their companies have made an effort to communicate with their staff about their rights to a safe, clean work environment.

It is also important to teach your staff about the hazards of workers compensation fraud. Your staff need to know that committing fraud is a crime, and a traceable one at that. Much like with the issue of workplace hazards that your staff may have seen, it’s important to make sure that your staff feel comfortable with the idea of reporting workers compensation fraud to you or your insurance company. It’s important that they realise that they will be rewarded for their honesty, and that it may help save their jobs as well as the jobs of others.

No matter what front you are fighting in the war against unsafe work environments, it’s important to maintain an open line of communication with your staff. Effectively communicating with your employees may save you a lot of hardship when it comes to the problem of workplace accidents, and it will also make them view you as a better boss.

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Why Monetary Rewards for Safety Performance Won’t Work


There are very few things that are more worrisome than workplace safety, especially if you are one of the many business owners in the field of construction or manufacturing. Laws are in place that penalises business owners who have employees that do not adhere to work safety standards that are put into place. As a result, it’s important (and also quite mandatory) to teach your employees about workplace safety and to enforce the rules. Keeping your safety risk low also helps keep your worker’s compensation costs low. Trying to drive home the importance of workplace safety can be a taxing chore, and it often can be one that employers struggle with.

Of course, many employers have tried to find new ways to create a safer, more organised workplace. Some choose to have special workplace safety seminars that educate employees on how to maintain a certain level of safety. Others opt to have a special consultant develop new ways to keep employees on the ball. Still, others choose to have extremely harsh penalties for those who make a mistake that deals with workplace safety.

Others still choose to have monetary incentives to try to keep their employees from making the same safety mistakes over and over again. Out of all of the different ways to handle safety performance issues, the monetary incentive route is quite possibly the worst option for employers to choose.

Using money to provide an incentive for people to do something has been a method that has been used for centuries to get things done. Though monetary incentives have been used for decades to motivate people to do the right thing, there have been many studies that have shown that money is not a good motivator in the long run. Some cases have shown that people are more likely to “cheat” in one way or another to try to get the incentive money. Other cases have shown that people begin to expect the incentive without actually doing the work that is needed in order to earn the incentive. In some cases, it will not make a difference in people’s actions at all, since they may not be fully aware of why they are even getting the incentive at all.

As a general rule, most people do not get motivated by money, even though it is one of the most important tools in a person’s life. According to most psychologists, people are more likely to be motivated by positive social pressure, by purpose, or by fear. Money, on the other hand, will not motivate a person enough to make them change their habits. So business owners would be wise to work on cultivating a culture that encourages looking out for one another or to develop a stricter set of penalties for those who do not obey local safety laws than it would be to spend money trying to get people to look out for workplace safety issues.

So how do you make a better, safer and smarter workplace?

  • The best way to start is to lead by example and to talk with your employees about the new safety-conscious efforts that will be taking place at work.
  • Hold a couple of quick meetings that teach your employees about proper workplace safety methods, as well as educate your employees on workplace safety laws.
  • If you do a good job of motivating people to be a little bit more conscientious when it comes to their safety practices, you won’t need to spend any money in order to make a major change in the way your company operates.

The Topic of Tagging and Testing

Recently, we had a client ask about the tagging and testing requirements under the new NSW WHS Legislation as it has confused them as to what is now required to ensure they are in compliance.

In summary, the WHS Regulations 2011 Clause 150 (1) states that a PCBU at a workplace must ensure that electrical equipment is regularly inspected and tested by a competent person if the electrical equipment is:

  • Supplied with electrical through an electrical socket out let; and
  • Used in an environment which the normal use of the electrical equipment exposes the equipment to conditions that are likely to result in damage to it or reduce its expected life span. This includes conditions that involve exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust.

It then goes onto to say, that any electrical equipment that is new and unused and that are not in exposed to conditions that are likely to cause it damage or reduce its life span, such as moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical danger corrosive chemicals or dust, are not required to comply to the above clause 150 (1) must be inspected for obvious damage before used.

This means that items that if they are in an office environment and not in an environment as described above in the first paragraph, they wouldn’t require regular inspection and testing. However, areas such as workshops, factories, maintenance or manufacturing areas would be considered to have exposed conditions to dust, heat vibrations etc., and would be required to be part of a tagging and testing program.

However, the legislation doesn’t discuss or direct us in the frequency of testing that is required. The Australian Standard for Tagging and Testing (AS/NZS 3760:2003 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment) is the document that advises of the frequency of testing required, depending on what type i.e. fully insulated, etc.

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Safety Leadership

Creating a total safety culture requires a common vision and effort from everyone in an organisation. There is compelling scientific research demonstrating that the management philosophy of an organisation is the most important factor determining its safety performance. For example, research demonstrates that companies with the lowest lost-time injury rates have the highest level of management commitment and employee involvement. The manager and/or the team leader are vital in inspiring employees to a higher level of safety and productivity, which means that they must apply good leadership attributes on a daily basis. Safety leadership is a vital component of any safety, health and environment process.

Safety leadership is defined as, “The process of defining the desired state, setting up the team to succeed, and engaging in the discretionary efforts that drive the safety value,” which broadly boils down to “engaging in and maintaining behaviours that help others achieve our safety goals.” Common safety leadership strategies appear to be:

Importance of Safety Leadership

The way you lead your team on health and safety can determine how safe your site is to work on (and the number of accidents, incidents and ill-health cases that happen) because it is a key ingredient in an organisation’s safety success. Without safety leadership, your company’s safety is questionable. Safety leadership determines the extent to which safety rules and procedures are followed which completely depends on the decision of your safety leader. Safety leadership helps to create and maintain the safety culture in an organisation.

Benefits of Safety Leadership

Addressing health and safety should not be seen as a regulatory burden: it offers significant opportunities. One of the benefits of safety leadership is to reduce costs. Safety in the workplace is one of the needs of employees, and safety leadership ensures it and reduces risks. Other benefits include lower employee absence and turnover rates; fewer accidents; the lessened threat of legal action; improved standing among suppliers and partners; a better reputation for corporate responsibility among investors, customers and communities; and increased productivity because employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.

Safety Culture

Achieving a total safety culture requires the organisation identifying the barriers preventing employees and leaders from performing their best. Otherwise, a tremendous effort may be lost pursuing initiatives that miss the mark.

There are many tools and resources available that can help an organisation measure their safety culture, identify the gaps and then assist in implementing a plan and processes for improvement.

Improving the safety culture will take time and resources. Commitments from top management, communication, assessing and improving the existing culture are essential in this process.

If you are interested in improving your safety culture, give us a call here at Dowell Solutions to see how we can tailor a package to suit your organisation’s needs.

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Having a Truck License Does Not Mean You are a Good or Safe Driver

 

A Message to Newly Licensed Truck Drivers

Having a truck license does not mean you are a good or safe driver: So you have finally passed your trucker’s course? You have got your brand new license, a nice new job and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Before you get too excited, always remember that just because you have your truck driver’s license does not mean you are a good or safe driver.

Driving a normal car is difficult but with the added weight and length of a truck, you are increasing your risk tenfold. On top of that, you have to take into careful consideration the road surface, weather conditions, fatigue levels, and your stopping distance will definitely be different when compared to driving a smaller vehicle.

Things to be aware of:

Truck driving is very tiring: Often truck drivers have to wake up at very early hours of the day in order to drive to their depot, load the truck and head to the destination. Most of the time truck drivers travel across vast distances, and the fatigue associated with constant long-distance driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents around the world.

You share the road with lunatics: Unfortunately, there are people on the road who tend to forget that your vehicle is a lot bigger than theirs. Due to larger blind spots, and an increased stopping distance due to the weight of your truck, it makes it difficult to just stop your vehicle mid-stride.

Travelling through an assortment of road types: There will be times where you will be lucky to travel through wide, straight, flat roads, but then there may be times where you will be required by your employer to travel up mountains, down valleys, through winding roads and narrow tunnels. If driving on these roads wasn’t difficult enough, you now have the added concern of your weight which decreases your ability to move and the required speed in order to move forward.

You have much larger blind spots: Due to the size of trucks, as well as the elevation from the ground, the driver experiences a much greater blind spot. Blind spots are areas of obstruction where things like cars and other road hazards are obstructed from view. Get into the habit of checking your mirrors often to ensure you are not missing anything.

Drive to the conditions: Most novice drivers of any type of vehicle overlook the need to adjust their speed according to the conditions. When it rains, the road is wet which means the tyres do not stick as well to the road’s surface. On top of that, the brake pads are wet which means that the stopping distance is further increased combined with less friction to the road. Drivers who do not practise caution when driving in rough weather tend to crash or skid when driving.

Arrogance: Sometimes it is prudent to know the limit of your abilities. Often new truck drivers or employers try to push for faster runs. When you drive for more than 10 hours across the country, this makes it difficult to stay awake. When experiencing fatigue, the body and mind become sluggish and as a result, the reaction time needed in order to perform tasks such as slowing down or stopping is increased. The consumption of alcohol or prohibited substances also aid in the decrease in the drivers’ reaction speed. This sort of negligence is one of the top killers of drivers across the world.

Employment Testing: Beware that in recent years although it has been easier to get a truck driver’s license, and drive with a company the next day. It is always good to ensure you have sufficient practise and training because due to the increasing trend of trucking accidents, many organisations will request a competency assessment and print outs of your driving record before employing you and letting you loose in their trucks.

We know how great it is to gain a new qualification or license and now that you have a trucker’s driving license, you are entering an exciting but demanding field. Each day is a challenge and an adventure, but safety must always be your number one priority especially when you share the road with a lot of smaller vehicles.

We all want you to come home to our families after a day of work and many of us need to use the roads to get home, so let’s try to make them as safe as possible for all road users.