5 Simple Steps for Safety
As a business that performs high risk scaffolding and rope access work, we’re used to working with the risk of serious injury or death. We’re incredibly proud of our safety record and we’re going to share our 5 simple steps to help you manage safety at your workplace.
1. Keep Safety Simple Are you working with a safety system that produces more paper per day than the West Australian but doesn’t seem to be producing the right results? You’re not alone. Safety systems require a certain amount of paperwork, but it’s easy to create more than you need and swamp your employees. You might want to do an audit, discard what isn’t useful, and rebuild with employee input. If it can’t be completed on site and doesn’t help to keep people safe, do you need it? 2. Put PPE Where It Belongs If you’ve ever done any safety training you’ll have heard that PPE is the last line of defence. Unfortunately it’s too often used as the first line of defence. Think about some of the incidents or hazards you’ve been involved in. How many times has PPE been suggested as a solution? Sure, PPE is useful and definitely has a place in managing safety, but the hierarchy of controls is there for a reason. How often do you really look at eliminating a hazard or substituting or engineering a control? If you put PPE where it belongs you’ll improve your safety performance and your workplace culture. 3. Communicate, mate This is an obvious one but it’s rarely done properly. Your business, like ours, runs on communication. You’ll spend all day communicating with somebody about your business operations, if you don’t, the cogs stop turning and the money stops coming in. So why is it different for your safety system? You have to communicate constantly with all levels of your business if you want to improve your safety performance. Make a change? Tell people. Buy new equipment? Tell people. Major incident? Tell people. Great safety performance? Tell people. 4. Train, Trust, and Tackle You’ve heard people say that in safety there’s no such thing as common sense. That mindset breeds a paperheavy nanny system that removes all responsibility for safety from the employee. It’s doomed to fail. Presumably you hired you employees because you were pretty sure they could get the job done to the required standard without causing serious harm to themselves or anyone else? Well then trust that they want the same outcome as you. Your job isn’t to smother them and micromanage them, your job is to train them to perform their jobs safely, trust that if you’ve put a strong safety system and culture in place they’ll respond positively to that, and tackle any issues that arise in a safe and efficient manner. Perform safety observations, supervise your teams appropriately, get them involved in every aspect of your safety systems, but don’t make it so convoluted that they can’t do the jobs you’ve hired them to do. People want to be safe, help them figure out how. 5. Learn, Change, Grow, Repeat Safety is always evolving. If you don’t stay up to date with changes to your industry as well as changes to technology, law, and safety best practice, you’re likely to be very reactive when managing risk. Remember when we used to build houses with asbestos? You’ve got to remove your ego from the situation, be willing to admit that what you had in place last month isn’t working, and be prepared to change. If you have a robust change management process you should be able to assess potential issues before you change practices and fix them before they arise. You also need to audit your practices regularly and adjust them if needed. Don’t let a lack of incidents stop you from assessing a process, you owe it to your employees to critique everything and make sure you’ve got the best systems in place. Once you’ve done all that, go back to the beginning and do it again.
So there you have our 5 simple steps for a safe workplace. If you have suggestions of your own, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
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