Workplace safety is an essential, but often overlooked part of our lives. It is easy to put on the back burner, but prevention is always much better than creating a retrospective fix.
I attended a SAFETY workshop at the Sydney Built Expo this year. This article is a distillation of that experience, so you too can make safety part of your company’s every day practice. Follow these 8 tips to reduce human error & risk.
1. Incorporate Safety into the Design of your Workplace
Many companies fail to consider health & safety in the design and engineering of their workplace, but it is just as important as efficiency. Though building codes cover some of this (e.g., electrical standards, fire suppression, and egress requirements), there are other aspects which must also be considered.
These may be ergonomics (consider standing desks or supportive office chairs), ventilation for easy breathing, and noise risks (perhaps supply ear plugs) for the anticipated work at hand, as well as protection from dangerous equipment and safe materials handling and storage.
2. Think About Staffing and Management
To provide an effective safety and health program human resource management is critical. This includes the development of accurate job descriptions to take into consideration job duties to support the mental load of employees, and the consideration of personal protective equipment (PPE) (eg. hearing protection) when working in a noisy environment.
3. Always Be Looking for Hazards
This is a key element to any health and safety program. Having a proactive attitude towards hazard recognition in your environment (the surroundings of the workers), towards the people working, equipment/materials used in the work process, and practices themselves.
In a construction site, standard operating procedures should be in place to recognise hazards at workplace. Once hazards have been identified they must be methodically controlled.
4. Listen to Your Employees
Employees should be involved in all aspects of health and safety programs, as this will benefit both the employees and management. Employees at the front-line have often experienced issues and problems that might not otherwise be seen by management.
It is important that communication exists between all parties to create a safe workplace.
5. Make Sure Your Team Has the Training they Need
Training can be delivered in a variety of forms, such as from classroom style to hands-on, from general concepts to task specific guides. Besides the need for safety training from a regulatory prospective it is essential that employees know what to do to perform their jobs safely.
6. Review Safety Measures Often
Safety measurement should reflect how workers (management and workers alike) are doing compared to applicable regulatory requirements and identified corporate goals.
This should include a system of accountability for meeting those standards to keep employees focused on safety.
7. Make Sure You Are Meeting Regulations
Construction companies must meet minimum standards of the Building Code of Australia. Non-compliance can have serious ramifications in terms of financial liability, penalties and fines, institutional reputation, and in serious cases the ability to continue operations.
It is very important to have mechanisms for staying informed and complying with regulations and standards. A self-assessment or assessment conducted by an outside party is often a good tool for determining level of compliance.
8. Conduct Regular Assessments
Assessments are a tool to measure health and safety improvements in an organisation. An organisation can monitor its compliance and changing behaviours through regular assessments. These can be performed by in-house personnel, organisational committee or with external consultants. The assessment results serve as a springboard for future improvement.
The tip above should be embedded in deeply in every organisations to provide a safe and healthy working environment. It is only through careful preparation, regular reviews and planning for the future that risks can truly be identified and avoided.
By: Merwais Mayar, AREA3 Project Manager