One of the most important aspects of running a business should be workplace health and safety. It is the responsibility of the organisation to have processes in place to manage the prevention of work-related injuries, incidents and diseases. It is vital that both managers and employees understand the importance of safety. However, how do you establish a health and safety program that encompasses the latest research and innovative ideas? And, how can you ensure that health and safety in the workplace is given the impetus it deserves?
Workplace Health and Safety Interventions
To help every organisation become more safety conscious and implement the necessary processes and procedures, there are many government programs in place. Interventions by Safe Work Australia include measures such as regulations, inspections and prosecutions. These measures aim to advise as to best practice and deter non-compliance with financial penalties. In addition, guidance material from reputable sources, safety campaigns and consulting partnerships can assist organisations to prioritise safety and implement effective programs.
However, while there are codes of practice in place and financial penalties if they aren’t adhered to, they in themselves can’t force a change in behaviour. What really makes a difference is the positive shift in safety culture of an individual business. Taking health and safety beyond just compliance and incorporating it into the culture of the organisation, day to day is the only way to truly inspire change.
Key Elements of Your Health and Safety Program
As a leader, it is your responsibility to implement initiatives to identify hazards in the workplace, put measures in place to minimise them and to drive workplace safety. Your health and safety program should be built upon key strategies, which work together to reduce the risk of preventable accidents, injuries and fatalities. As part of your health and safety program, you should:
- Inspect your workplace – before you can build a new health and safety program, you need to understand your business and its inherent hazards and risks. This includes regularly checking all equipment and tools and reviewing how your employees are carrying out their work. Professional health and safety officers can help you to ensure that nothing is missed.
- Build a risk-based plan – once all risks have been identified, you’ll need to work towards controlling or better still eliminating them. A program of measures, controls and processes should be clearly documented to reduce the risks.
- Communicate your plan – a health and safety program is no good if it is not clearly communicated to the workforce. Your employees need to be on board and to work with you to ensure that any health and safety risks are minimised.
- Train your employees -health and safety training shouldn’t be a one-off task, that leads your employees into a false sense of security. Training should be offered continuously to keep health and safety front of mind and avoid complacency. Written instructions and safe work procedures should be available for reference at all times.
- Put health and safety on the agenda – in addition to regular training, regular safety meetings should be held to allow employees to raise concerns and suggest improvements. This makes them feel valued, reiterates the importance of safety and encourages more consistent safety behaviours.
- Investigate incidents – all incidents, accidents and near misses should be clearly documented and investigated. Even if an incident doesn’t result in a serious injury, by investigating the problem and putting controls in place, you can minimise the risk of the same thing or worse happening in the future.
- Keep health and safety records – incidents should be documented when they occur, training should be confirmed in reports and concerns raised should be recorded. With a high level of visibility and transparency, a higher standard of health and safety should result.
Workplace Health and Safety as an Investment
Workplace health and safety has a substantial impact on your business’s bottom line. Costs associated with injuries or incidents will far outweigh the costs of prevention. That’s before considering negative publicity and its impact on customers and stakeholders. What’s more, when incidents occur, and the right measures aren’t in place, costly fines and penalties can hit hard effecting both the business and you personally.
One should always stand up for the strategic need for health and safety investment. It is more than compliance; you can push forward to create an organisation that prioritises health and safety, offers training and values feedback from those on the ground. Safety should never be an after-thought, a commitment to health and safety makes good business sense. After all, by implementing strategies to improve health and safety, you are protecting your greatest resource, the people who work for you.
For over a decade, Conserve has helped organisations overcome contractor management challenges. We can help you develop a contractor management service that will be not only effective but will make your organisation safer, while minimising your overall risk. Request a demo now or visit the Conserve page for more great content.