Anzac Day – A day to Remember and Rest

Today is Anzac Day, the day to remember those New Zealanders who gave their lives in all wars. The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

Anzac day is an opportunity to honour our forebears and to reflect on the huge impact of war on generations of New Zealanders and on our place in the world. It is a day to show respect for those who served their country and to express sorrow for those who lost their lives or were left injured or traumatised.  It is not a day to glorify war.

Anzac day is a time to reflect on the past but since 1922 it has also been a public holiday – a day of rest.

Having time away from work is needed for physical and mental recuperation.  Having a good night’s sleep and not being fatigued are important when it comes to health and safety at work.  Long hours and fatigue have often been associated with poor health and safety outcomes.

Fatigue can lead to:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor communication
  • Poor decision making
  • A state of apathy
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced vigilance
  • Bad mood

Any one of these factors could have the potential to cause or influence a workplace accident.

Every individual is different and we react to being tired in different ways.  Individual factors that may affect our response to tiredness and in particular to shift-work are:

  • Training and experience
  • Coping skills
  • General health
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Diet
  • Rigidity of sleeping habits
  • Circadian adaptability – night owl or early bird?
  • Personality type – introvert/extrovert?

Below are 6 tips to help minimise fatigue at work.

  1. Make communication easy – employees should feel comfortable about discussing whether particular processes/shifts are causing fatigue issues.
  2. Eliminate jobs or shifts schedules identified as causing excessive fatigue. If this cannot be done redesign processes or change the time certain jobs are done.  This might mean reducing the number of repetitive jobs on a night shift etc.
  3. Economic factors and production demands should not rule a person’s schedule.   If you are busy don’t expect your employees to work long hours to achieve the company’s results.
  4. Fatigue should be recognised as a legitimate and significant workplace hazard.  Fatigue may not always be caused by work cycles.  Employees should be aware of the risk they pose to their colleagues if they are overtired.
  5. Rosters should allow for employees to have adequate rest time so that they arrive at work well rested.
  6. Rest breaks between shift-cycles need to be long enough to permit full recovery from any sleep debt.

So today enjoy your day of rest but take a moment to reflect and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Lest we forget

 

 

Encouraging a Positive Safety Culture

Deloitte’s recently issued their second annual Health and Safety Leadership Survey of New Zealand Companies.  In it 90% of Kiwi CEO’s think their health and safety risks are effectively managed but there are 3 key areas that needed improvement: risk management, worker engagement and contractor management.

Lead by example
Build trust and respect
Communicate clearly
Involve everyone
Keep learning

Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum Executive Director Francois Barton said that overall the survey results were encouraging and provided a view of what good practice looks like. “However, there are some gaps between the commitment of our business leaders and the reality of health and safety practice on the ground.”  He noted that the report shows that culture and worker participation are seen as key to improving health and safety performance but efforts to improve safety culture are patchy.

Improving the safety culture in your workplace will mean:

  • fewer accidents, injuries and lost time
  • safer behaviours among workers
  • improved well-being and job satisfaction
  • better relationships between management and staff.

So how do you know if your company has a good safety culture?  What does it look like?  The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment produced a document in 2013 to improve the safety in mines, quarries and tunnels.  This list of “What a strong health and safety culture looks like” from the publication can be applied to any industry.

  • Leaders are regularly seen in the workplace with the team.
  • Everybody knows that if a job can’t be done safely it isn’t done at all.
  • Everyone has the knowledge and skills to do their jobs safely.
  • Everyone knows what their health and safety responsibilities and duties are.
  • Staff, contractors and representatives are actively involved in decision-making.
  • There is open and honest communication across the organisation.
  • There is mutual respect between workers and managers.
  • Everyone actively reports incidents, hazards and near misses.
  • Incidents and hazards are investigated without fear of blame or recrimination.
  • People who break the rules or condone rule breaking by others are held accountable.
  • The organisation learns from incidents and near misses and makes sure they don’t happen again.
  • There is emphasis on the use and continuous improvement of systems.
  • Risk assessment is routinely and actively used at all levels and in all processes.
  • Health and safety is adequately resourced with sufficient people, equipment and time.

So how much of the list can your company tick off? To create an effective safety culture is an ongoing process.  It requires a large commitment on behalf of the entire company. Here are a five tips to get you started:

  1. Everybody needs to be a role model.  Everyone is accountable for being visibly involved in safety, especially managers and supervisors.
  2. Share you safety vision.  Ensure everyone knows your company’s safety expectations.  Induction training should include the company’s safety vision.
  3. Make your safety procedures usable by:
    • keeping them simple and easy to follow– get people who use them to help write them
    • not having too many
    • making sure those who need them can access them when they need them.
  4. Cultivate a trusting culture where it is easy to:
    • report incidents (be prepared for an increase in incidents if you think there may be under-reporting at present)
    • have open and honest incident investigations
    • report and share the outcomes of investigations; make sure that incidents won’t happen again by putting new processes in place
    • communicate worries and issues.
  5. Track progress and celebrate successes.

Siteapp can help you build a good safety culture in your workplace.  It makes it easy to report incidents; procedures for each part of a job can be stored with the job for easy access by everyone and it has a simple to use site hazard identification process.  Find out how you can keep your workers safe by contacting Siteapp now.

The Value of Near Miss Reporting

WorkSafe NZ defines a near miss as an incident which did not result in injury, illness or damage, but could have potentially done so.

Every day we experience near misses in our home and work life.  Your kids knock you while you are carrying a hot cup of coffee but you avoid spilling it on one of them.  You trip over pipes lying across the path and narrowly avoid falling onto some shelving units which could have tumbled onto one of your colleagues. In slightly different circumstances these incidences could have led to a serious injury.

It is important to consider near misses as a zero cost learning tool: any workplace that identifies and investigates near miss incidents of significant severity is generally safer than the one that does not.

It is important to investigate the cause of a near miss in a timely and accurate manner.  Employers need to ensure that the reporting and investigation of all near misses is promoted and part of the workplace culture. All near misses should be taken seriously and reported consistently.  Reporting of near misses gives employers information about the overall effectiveness of hazard identification and management.

There are often many reasons why an employee is unwilling to report a near miss.  These include:

  • Fear of being blamed – the employee may have not followed procedures or was actually doing something they should not have been doing when the near miss happened.
  • Indifference or apathy – employees may think the near miss was too trivial to require reporting.
  • Lack of managerial support – Managers need to lead by example and report near misses themselves; if they don’t treat it as a priority their employees won’t either.

Under the new Health & Safety legislation the definition of Notifiable Events (death & notifiable injury or illness) has expanded to include ‘Notifiable Incidents’ which are incidents that have the potential to cause serious harm to a person’s health or safety.  This means all incidents, regardless of whether the incident caused injury needs to be reported.  This includes incidents to your employees and subcontractors working on site.  Records need to be kept for 5 years.

How do you encourage recording near misses?

    • Make it simple.  Use a severity scale to rate the incident.
    • Don’t set quotas.  Employees who have met their quota may ignore subsequent – and potentially more dangerous – near misses
    • Offer incentives to report hazards.
    • Give employees the option to report anonymously if they feel they may have been to blame.
    • Encourage team discussions around near misses.  What can be done to mitigate the hazard etc?
    • Management must lead by example and establish a reporting culture.

Ensure your employees understand that an investigation is not a blame exercise but a learning experience.  They need to understand that the results will be used to improve safety systems, hazard control and risk reduction to minimise the likelihood of a serious accident happening in the future.

Simple on-line forms can be created within Siteapp for near miss reporting.  Siteapp has easy to use forms to identify and assess hazards and put control measures in place for each work step. Call now to see how Siteapp can minimise near miss incidents within your workplace.

 

 

Don’t Get Fuming Mad with Safety

In February 2015 Gunac Hawke’s Bay Limited was fined after one of its employees was overcome by toxic fumes. In January 2017, WorkSafe NZ lifted the notice prohibiting the use of a new thermally modified timber kiln at Pan Pac’s Whirinaki mill.  The mill, north of Napier, was shut down because of rashes and other ailments, which staff and neighbours feared were caused by the emissions from the kiln.

These are recent examples of where people have been adversely affected by fumes.  There are many types of fumes, gas, and other vapours which can put workers and the public at risk.  Fumes can be inhaled or come in contact with the skin or eyes.

It is not possible to set out precise requirements for every industrial situation where there is fume hazard because every workplace is different. The controls you put in place should be proportionate to the risk but the equipment selected needs to minimise health risks.  It should be appropriate for the particular work situation.

Here is are 6 things you should consider if fumes are part of your working environment:       

Adequate ventilation/extraction 

Workshops often used to rely upon a fan in the roof or open doors either end of the workshop so the wind could provide the ‘extraction’. But this meant you removed the fumes only after the operator has already breathed them in and then they would exit the building via the breathing space of all the other employees downwind. It also meant a cold workplace during winter. Now days there are many more ways to provide ventilation. Some that could be considered are:

  • Fixed hoods located at points where fumes occur/are created.
  • Ventilation equipment mounted on the equipment itself.
  • Relocatable exhaust hoods connected to fans and air-cleaners by flexible tubing.

Ventilation in a confined space is particularly important where the build-up of fumes and/or vapours can lead to the additional risks of lack of oxygen, fire or heat build up.

Respirators

There are many different types of respirator.  Ensure that they have been selected based on the type of fume hazard:

  • Dust
  • Mists and aerosols e.g. paint spray
  • Metallic fumes
  • Gaseous or vapour contaminants e.g. solvents and ammonia
  • Lack of oxygen e.g. in a confined space

Employees should be trained on how to use the respirators safely.

Eye protection

Eye protection should be chosen to fit the task and the user.  Protection can be from fully sealed units, goggles, safety glasses, face shields or masks.

Protective clothing

If the fumes contain skin irritants or particles that could be transferred outside the work environment make sure that adequate protective clothing is provided.  This may include:

  • Fully enclosed suits
  • Overalls
  • Footwear
  • Gloves

Work scheduling

If possible schedule work that produces fumes or vapours when there are less people around.  Put up warning notices to ensure that the worksite hazard area is clearly identified and to stop other workers or visitors wandering into the area.

Safety training and instructions

  • Ensure personnel have had adequate health and safety training
  • Ensure that there are clear instructions and information available for all the workers.
  • Train employees to use the first aid equipment to deal with fume inhalation incidents.
  • Personnel protective gear should be regularly checked for damage and/or that it is working correctly.

 

Siteapp allows you to attach details of the required safety equipment to a job and create safety checklists.  Call us to find out how Siteapp can help you keep your work environment and employees safe from the effect of fumes.

 

 

 

 

Working Outside Requires Extra Safety in Summer

Summer has arrived a little late for most of us.  Holidays are over, the school term is in full swing and most of us are back at work, indoors.  However for a large number of workers the day is spent outside and this can present a few extra health and safety challenges.  So whether you are an employer or an employee, a vineyard worker, road worker, landscaper or construction worker think about the additional risks a job outside can cause.

Skin Cancer

Around 300 New Zealanders die of melanoma every year

Unfortunately, New Zealand has one of the highest melanoma rates in the world. Make sure that you and your staff are aware that exposure to our harsh UV rays can lead to melanoma or other skin cancers.  Not all employees may be native to New Zealand and know these risks.

As an employer could you provide a good quality sunscreen, long sleeve clothing made of breathable material or hats and/or neck protectors to minimise the chances of getting sunburn? Ensure that the staff know the risks so that they don’t take their hats or shirts off when they get out of sight.

Get your workers to wear sunglasses.  Do you need to provide safety sunglasses?  If their job involves the risk of loose, flying materials a pair of UV rated safety sunglasses will have good impact protection and minimise sun damage to the eyes.

Minimise sun exposure by providing sunshades or shelter over the working positions where practicable.

Common Myths about Skin Cancer: 

  • You cannot get skin cancer if it’s cloudy or through a window.
  • People with dark skin do not get skin cancer.
  • Fake tan will protect you from UV exposure.
  • You need to be outside to get Vitamin D from the sunshine.

 

Dehydration and Heat stroke

On average 14 people die a year from heat-related causes

Like paint your body dries quickly in the heat and sunshine.  If heat exhaustion is not dealt with quickly, it can progress to heat stroke, which can be life-threatening.

Working in confined spaces like underfloor, ceiling or roof work will increase the risk of heat exhaustion.  Ensure there is adequate airflow through these areas, use fans or air conditioning to provide ventilation.

Humidity increases the likelihood of heat exhaustion as much as the actual temperature. High humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, so that the body has more difficulty cooling itself.

To prevent heat exhaustion:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes even if you don’t feel thirsty.  Avoid drinking too much coffee, sugary drinks or alcohol as these can be dehydrating.
  • Take regular breaks in the shade.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications

Make sure your workers know the signs of heat exhaustion before it becomes heatstroke. Heat stroke victims usually don’t recognise their own symptoms.

  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Darker coloured urine
  • Pounding or rapid pulse
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling weak or dizzy

Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke. Indicators of heatstroke include:

  • Mood changes or confusion
  • Loss of balance, fainting
  • Seizures
  • Dry, red skin

 

Call us now to find out how SiteApp can limit the risk to you and your employees. Create a heat stress checklist which can be completed on site quickly and easily via a smartphone or tablet.

 

6 Preventative Ways to Avoid Workplace Accidents and Injuries

Back at work after a summer break you probably think you have too much to catch up on to think about safety. However workplace injuries don’t take holidays. They are more likely to happen when you are focused on other things and they can happen in any kind of working environment and affect any worker.

While some injuries wouldn’t require urgent attention, there are also injuries that can be grave and even life-threatening. This is exactly why all businesses are required to comply with Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) to reduce the occurrence of workplace injuries.

So, what should be done to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace? This article outlines 6 preventative measures to keep your workplace safe for everyone:

  1. Spread Health & Safety Awareness in the Workplace
    Introduce workers to the Health and Safety At Work Act (HSWA) so they are aware of the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors, and employers. If their work pose safety hazards, make sure they go through a specific workplace health and safety training.
  2. Provide Protective Gear
    Anyone working in or passing through areas that hazards should wear protective gear. Make sure all protective gear are of great quality and designed for the specific duty or hazard. They must also fit well and feel comfortable and they should meet the current standards from the HSWA Guidance.
  3. Inspect the Workplace for Safety Hazards
    Inspect all work areas, access routes, and equipment for possible safety hazards and look carefully into the operations to see if there are processes that might result to workers getting injured at work.
  4. Be Prepared for Fire Emergencies
    There will always be fire threats in any kind of workplace and the only way to prevent accidents and injuries caused by fire is to be ready. Make sure you have the right equipment such as fire extinguishers, sprinklers, or an automated fire control system.The placement and accessibility of this equipment also plays an important role in case of a fire. They have to be strategically placed in your workplace. Just make sure that your employees know where the equipment is and that they are properly trained on how to react in a fire situation.
  5. Get Anti-Slip Mats
    Slips, Trips, and Falls (STFs) are actually among the leading causes of workplace injuries. Severe ones end up requiring expensive treatment and extensive recovery.So take STFs more seriously by securing STF-prone areas with quality safety mats that will prevent people from slipping and falling.
  6. Have a Complete First Aid Set up
    First aid can save lives so make sure to choose a provider that offers a managed first aid service.An immediate CPR treatment can help someone survive a heart attack. These skills and knowledge can be acquired by training, but you will also need to get a complete, fully-stocked, and updated First Aid Kit. Or you can rent one to be 100% sure that it is stocked, up to date, and up to legal standards.

It’s impossible to avoid accidents totally but they can be prevented. Keep all these in mind to make sure your workplace is a safe place for your workers.

The content for this article was provided by Alsco Pty Ltd (www.alsco.co.nz ) rental service providers of hospital grade first aid kits, portable defibrillators and anti-slip mats for your workplace.

Don’t let safety be another New Year’s resolution failure

Approximately half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions yet only 8% actually achieve them.

It is now two and half weeks into the New Year.  How many of your New Year’s resolutions have you broken already?  How can you make safety an every day habit not a New Year’s resolution forgotten within a few weeks.

Behavioural psychologists suggest that there are a few things you can do to help goals stick.  These can be applied to your own New Year’s resolutions and to achieving better safety at work.

  • Don’t change everything at once.  When thinking of your goals, make a list and focus on one behaviour change or habit at a time.
  • Set a clear goal. Your goal might be to get fit but what do you mean exactly? Do you intend to lose a certain number of kilos? Run a half marathon in 6 months time? Bench-press 40kgs? Make sure your goals are specific. You can use the SMART acronym to define your goals.  Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. The first step to behaviour change is to clearly understand what your goal is.
  • Track your progress. “If you can measure it, you can change it”. If you know where you started and where you are now, you can see changes and be motivated by them. They will also help you to identify if you hit a plateau so you can adjust your efforts.
  • Have patience. You must set realistic goals – the “A” in the SMART goal setting. Some people will see rapid gains but then hit a plateau. For others, progress may be slow but then they suddenly achieve breakthroughs. If you want changes to stick, it takes time – according to some research, it takes about 66 days to form a new habit so don’t give up early.
  • Don’t do it alone. Enlist the help of an expert if you need to. If you are looking to run that half marathon, maybe you need a running coach. Tell your friends and family what you want to achieve, and they are more likely to help you stay focused when you are having an ‘off’ day or week.
  • Put it on your diary. How often do you hear people say they can’t “find the time” to do something. Nobody finds time.  To make your new goals a priority actually schedule them into your calendar. If you have a fitness goal make time for your workouts – it may mean setting your alarm an hour earlier 3 times a week, but you can find time. Think of these time blocks as dentist appointments, they are hard to get so you don’t move them unless absolutely necessary.
  • Stop feeling guilty if you get off track. None of us are perfect. It is better to do something rather than doing nothing. If the car breaks down and needs repairing so you can’t save 10% of monthly wage, just save what you can. Any effort towards your goal is better than no effort. Don’t turn a small lapse into a permanent relapse. Instead, just acknowledge what went wrong and get back to working towards your goal.

Achieving goals isn’t about having willpower. It’s about developing the right skills to make changes in your habits. Good luck with your personal New Year’s resolutions but if you or your construction firm want to make safety a goal for 2017 – “don’t do it alone“; Siteapp has many features which will help with health and safety compliance on every project your staff are working on, every day of the year.

Safety Solutions for Remote Locations

It is the holiday season and you may be looking forward to that break away somewhere remote where work can’t get hold of you. New Zealand’s landscape is diverse, with may parts considered rugged, remote and sparsely populated. Great for a holiday destination but sometimes things need to be built in these environments and people need to work there.  These rugged environments come with their own set of challenges including the weather, terrain and communication. What should you consider when looking at safety solutions if you work in these remote locations?

20% of New Zealand has no mobile coverage.

Most of us take using our cellphone for granted. In February 2016 fifteen new cell towers became operational, however 20% of New Zealand has no mobile coverage. For many places on the West coast of the South Island and the central regions of both Islands cell phone coverage is non-existent or patchy and WiFi non-existent.

Any computerised safety system needs to allow your team to continue working with no connection. If they know that they are heading to an area with poor coverage can they download their documents to their device before they leave the office?  Forms are filled in on location but can the information gathered be uploaded when the team are back in mobile coverage or have WiFi access?

In some New Zealand locations the weather can be extreme. Working in these conditions can cause many problems but entering data should not be one of them. Systems need to have large buttons with a clutter free design so that information can be entered quickly and easily.

If you don’t want to remove your gloves because it is too cold, voice to type functionality may be an important feature. Most tablets and phones support “voice to type” but not all software can utilise this facility.

With Siteapp safety does not need to stop just because the internet is not available. It has been designed for the field environment and for New Zealand conditions. Talk to the Siteapp team and find out how the many functions of Siteapp can allow you to work in the remote beauty of New Zealand or maybe closer to home.

Keeping Christmas Safe

“Merry Christmas” everyone! Christmas will be here in a couple of weeks and there are lots of activities going on which can act as distractions at work.  It is often a challenge to stay focused at this time of year.

There is stress caused by activities outside of work, “Will that present we ordered online arrive on time?” “Will Uncle Vic behave at Christmas dinner?” There is the stress at work to complete everything before the holiday shutdown.  Add into the mix the end of year functions with late nights and a few drinks and you can have a recipe for a safety disaster.

So, this is when it is especially important to take time for safety. You may find yourself at work but your thoughts may elsewhere with all the other plans and activities of Christmas. STOP, and take a few seconds to look around and focus on your surroundings. Look for the hazards around you. Is your ladder properly secured? Is your safety harness on correctly? Are you about to trip on something lying on the floor?  Hazards do not go away because it is Christmas, only our awareness of the hazards goes away. When we ignore hazards, we tend to get injured.

Christmas injuries put extra stress on everyone. Worksafe New Zealand’s mission is “Everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe”.  This is especially important at Christmas; everyone wants to be home and healthy for the holiday season.  Imagine sitting in hospital rather than at the dinner table at Christmas because you fell off a roof or tripped over something.  Injuries at Christmas seem to increase how many people are affected by an injury. How many people count on you each day to come home safely? Who will do the driving to see family if your arm is in a cast?

Every year ACC has about 80 claims from people injured by their tree.

Think of your safety as your Christmas present to yourself and your family. Taking a few seconds for safety may seem unimportant but it can be the most important few seconds; accidents happen quickly. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for your co-workers too.

When you go home to hang the decorations on the tree carry your safety messages home.  Beware of your Christmas tree. That tree is not as innocent as it looks. Every year ACC has about 80 claims from people injured by their tree, usually while fixing stars, lights or other decorations to the higher branches. Always use a step ladder to put up the decorations and don’t over-reach yourself.

christmas-1079912_1280

“Merry Christmas” to everyone.  Have a SAFE holiday.

Need help identifying hazards at work?  Siteapp is a mobile app that helps with hazard identification.  Call now to find out more.

Writing a Safety Document that Gets Read

Have you ever started a new job and the first thing you have been handed is a huge folder containing the Health and Safety procedures? You read the first 10 pages of the document and think, this is boring, not very relevant to me and most of it is in jargon that I don’t understand; you then realise you have another 150 pages to go.

The new Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 does involve having good health and safety documents but this doesn’t mean they have to be long, complicated and boring. They have to document how, as a company, you are thinking about risks your workers come into contact with everyday and what you are doing to reduce this risk, whether it be from noise, equipment, falls etc. These documents should be easy to understand and easily accessible to everyone.

65 per cent of workers did not fully understand their employers’ policies and rules, hazard information, and safety procedures.

In 2013 a Workbase, an adult literacy organisation, spoke to 466 employees in 23 manufacturing, warehousing, hospitality and other work places. Employees were asked to assess their understanding of their company’s health and safety documents. The study showed that 65 per cent did not fully understand their employers’ policies and rules, hazard information, and safety procedures. This study highlights the need for good documentation – you cannot get your employees to “buy in” to health and safety if they can’t understand the information they are being given. This is especially true if English is a second language.

Your workers are busy people and busy people do not have time to read. Concentrate on the what are the must knows.  If your safety documents look hard work to read then they will not be read.

Sometimes long documents are needed but write a summary sheets with diagrams to get information across quickly and have it close to where it is needed. Don’t forget your safety documents should be reviewed regularly as equipment, personnel, situations will change.

Worksafe New Zealand has an excellent guideline for writing health and safety documents for your workplace.  It divides the process into 5 stages and gives examples of some before and after documents.

  • Stage 1: What is the document for?
  • Stage 2: Who will read the document?
  • Stage 3: What are your main messages?
  • Stage 4: Does the document work?
  • Stage 5: How will you share and use the document?

Siteapp allows you to attach your safety documents to a job and create safety checklists.  Call us to find out how Siteapp can help you get your safety documents read.