Driving collaboration through the cloud

When you imagine a construction site what do you see? For most, they picture people working, driving diggers and operating equipment. What they do not see is the multitude of different logos, company employees and contracting businesses that are involved. 

With New Zealand's new Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 placing extra emphasis on collaboration between companies to ensure work site safety, communication and information sharing is becoming more and more important.

So what can health and safety leadership do to drive inter-company communication in today's digital world?

Siloed work site safety systems can be a major compliance risk factor.

Cloud software and a collaborative culture

With the cloud moving into its teenage years, and beginning to mature as technology, more and more companies are turning to it to deliver solutions. For instance, a study from the Harvard Business Review shows that 84 per cent of businesses surveyed said that their cloud use has increased over the last year.

The survey also showed that businesses were using cloud technology to drive collaboration, with 72 per cent stating that it was a top benefit. This is no surprise as the cloud is an excellent platform that allows workers to quickly share information and cooperate effectively.

While for most businesses the cloud can speed up the delivery of products, for work health and safety, its use has a whole host of alternative benefits. 

Is you health and safety system able to communicate with other companies?Is your health and safety system able to communicate with other companies?

Quicker information, swifter solutions

With work health and safety focused on delivering better work site safety, one of the core processes is identifying hazards and implementing measures to ensure they do not lead to an accident. With a cloud-based safety app for instance, multiple parties can collaborate on a single issue and deliver quicker solutions to safety challenges. 

By breaking down information silos, workers and organisations are better able to share information and work collaboratively to find solutions to managing health and safety.

But it is not just the communication between organisations and employees that matter. The new laws have also made it essential for companies to communicate better with organisations that are working on the same site. In contrast, manual, paper-based systems restrict communication to one organisation. 

Most health and safety systems are siloed behind these logos, which, in most cases, are unable to talk to each other. But there are ways for companies to break these down. One of the most effective is through safety software, such as SiteApp.

If you are looking for ways to create a culture of collaboration on your work sites, talk to the experts at SiteApp today

Clearing up work health and safety misunderstandings with SiteApp

As with all legislative changes, there are a number of workers, companies and organisations that are not fully aware of what the new law means for them. However, the transition to the new workplace health and safety act is not as complex as many think. This is especially true of companies who have strong WHS procedures in place and who currently use safety software such as New Zealand's SiteApp.

However, this has not stopped several misunderstandings from developing under the new laws.

Workplace compliance starts at the top.

Workers and companies unaware of their responsibilities

One of the big shifts coming from the new WHS legislation is added focus on worker obligations to themselves and others. Yet, it would seem that this has made many unsure about what they need to actually do. New Zealand's media sites have been filled with people who are unsure of their requirements.

For instance, a recent story run by Fairfax shows that a worker in Timaru has refused a number of jobs because he is unsure about what is expected of him. Specifically, he would not take any contracts that would require him to go on a roof, because he believed he would need harness training and other equipment to do so.

Yet, a WorkSafe NZ spokeswoman pointed out that this is not a requirement under the new Act as long as he is appropriately managing risks and hazards to the best of his ability.

Ambiguity can be a major obstacle for workers, especially in high risk areas such as construction. In response, workers need to ensure they have access to up-to-date information on site, so they can be sure what they are doing is compliant under the law. Safety apps are an effective way to achieve this

Are workers aware of their responsibilities?Are workers aware of their responsibilities?

WHS more than worker's responsibilities

While there is a certain level of confusion when it comes to workers, organisations on the other hand, are responsible for both their own actions and those of their workers. The Act is clear when it comes to companies and boards about what is expected as it defines their duties clearly. 

Organisations need to ensure that they have a good understanding of their risk profile, have key measures in place and a system that provides up-to-date and pertinent information on whether these mechanisms are working. While these are essential components, they are not always sufficient at minimising risk. Companies also need to ensure they are able to communicate work health and safety to contractors and employees in the field.

With the introduction of the concept of 'person conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU), organisations are required to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers on site. This can be hard, especially in the construction industry, where most workers are operating remotely. Yet, there are a number of ways to ensure that workers are not left out of the loop and thus reduce the risk of a compliance breach. 

One of the most effective approaches is cloud-based safety software. SiteApp is one of New Zealand's leading online safety applications that can ensure that all documentation is up-to-date and all workers are aware of their roles and responsibilities. This app makes keeping workplaces hazard-free easier than with traditional paper-based processes. 

Furthermore, the easy interface and intuitive design makes it simple for all workers to use. By guiding them through hazard identification and risk analysis processes, measures can be quickly put in place and the hazard analysis repeated. 

If you are looking to add more to your health and safety processes, SiteApp is a good place to start. So contact a representative today to find out how it can help you ensure compliance across the board.

Managing work health and safety of shift-workers

In today's commercial world, more and more employees are working on a shift-basis. While this does introduce a level of flexibility into a business' workforce, it also exposes the company to a number of unique health & safety issues. One of the most prominent is the relationship between fatigue and safety.

So how can companies ensure that they manage fatigue in the same way as they would other hazards?

Work site safety can be negatively impacted by fatigue.

Fatigue in the construction industry

As construction work involves a range of high-risk activities, the industry faces a number of key problems that many other sectors do not. To ensure a safe-working environment, and workplace compliance, construction workers need to to be physically and mentally alert. 

Due to this, fatigue is a major concern, and both employers and employees have the responsibility to manage fatigue in the workplace. WorkSafe defines fatigue as the physical or mental state of exhaustion that limits an individual's ability to work both safely and effectively.

Shift work within the construction industry, which often involves irregular work hours and schedules that require night work, can restrict workers' ability to recover from their activities. Working at night especially can have a major impact, as it affects the natural sleeping pattern of an individual. 

How can you better manage worker fatigue?How can you better manage worker fatigue?

Managing employer responsibility

Under New Zealand law, employers have a duty to take all practicable steps to make sure their workers are safe while at work. As fatigue is considered a hazard, businesses thus have a responsibility to manage it. 

One of the best ways to ensure that workers are not fatigued is through the development and implementation of compliant rest schedules. It is imperative to ensure that employees take regular rest breaks throughout their working day. For instance, if an employee works for six to eight hours, you must ensure they receive two paid 10-minute rest breaks as well as one unpaid 30-minute break.

However, this is just the legal minimum requirement. Best practice health and safety at work would ensure that extra rest breaks are implemented for those engaged in demanding work.

With such a strong emphasis on safety and the proper management of fatigue, employers will need to make sure they are able to access up-to-date schedules and other work-related documents in the field. SiteApp's digital platform is an effective way to ensure that hazards are managed properly and your workplace stays compliant. 

If you would like to learn more about how SiteApp can help you better manage fatigue and other workplace hazards, talk to a representative today

Do you know how to engage employees on workplace health and safety?

Many business owners may be aware that new health & safety legislation has been introduced in New Zealand, but many still are unaware of the effect this will have on their business. So what will this new legislation mean for organisations in New Zealand?

SiteApp can ensure your employees are engaging with health and safety policy.

New focus for New Zealand businesses

One of the major changes that the Health and Safety at Work Act will implement will be a shift in focus from simply monitoring and recording workplace injuries, to a more proactive stance that requires companies to identify risks and implement processes that manage them properly. 

While much of the focus has been on the introduction of Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), there has also been significant changes to the responsibilities of workers. As the foremost actors of health and safety in a workplace, the legislation places new emphasis on workers' obligations to themselves and others. 

Specifically, this means:

  • taking reasonable care of their own safety;
  • taking reasonable care to ensure what they do or do not do does not impact the safety of others;
  • cooperating with reasonable policy, which has been communicated to workers; and
  • complying with any reasonable instruction to the best of their abilities in an effort to allow PCBU to comply with legislation.

While these changes affect workers, the PCBU is responsible to ensure the health and safety of workers. One way the new legislation encourages companies to act on this requirement is through a number of legislative conditions that focus on worker engagement.

How can SiteApp help you?How can SiteApp help you?

Engaging workers through technological innovation

The new law foregrounds the role of organisations to engage workers in relation to health and safety issues, and offer them opportunities to participate in the improvement of health and safety. While Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and Health and Safety Committees (HSCs) are two traditional ways of encouraging engagement, technology can also offer PCBUs a viable avenue.

In many workplaces, health and safety is seen as overly bureaucratic, however, there are a number of ways to streamline the compliance process. One example of a practical solution is offered by New Zealand's own SiteApp

This technologically innovative platform allows workers in the field to access key compliance documents, systems and processes that are required under new legislation. From hazard identification to compliance documentation, this one-stop shop can make accessing and adding documentation a breeze.

If you would like to know more about how SiteApp can streamline your workplace, contact a representative today.

Do you know the consequences of compliance failure?

Work health and safety is a major focus for a number of business – and why not? It is a requirement under the law and can also drive worker engagement. Yet a new report has shown that a number of businesses are not doing enough to ensure their day-to-day practices are up to standard.

A safety app can ensure a company's commitment to safety is replicated in day-to-day activities.

So what are the penalties for compliance failure and how can businesses work towards best practice?

New Zealand: The land of health and safety

While no one would say that workplace health and safety is a finished product, many believe they are doing all they can to ensure workers' safety. However, a recent report highlights that there still are a number of gaps in relation to health and safety at work.

A recent survey from Deloitte found that 83 per cent of the boards are confident that they have the right level of experience and knowledge to understand the risks to business. However, the report – titled: Are we as safe as we want to be? 2016 Health & Safety Leadership Survey – found there was a major disjunction between CEO confidence in the health and safety systems they have in place and the day-to-day practices within their companies.

Taking answers from 133 CEOs located around Australia, Deloitte found that their responses were indicative of an unintentional divide between organisational dedication to health and safety and everyday practices. For instance, only 59 per cent of site visits include informal conversations with workers, even though safety discussions are a viable and successful way of identifying and mapping safety-weak points in an organisation.

Health and safety is more than paper and pens. Health and safety is more than paper and pens.

Failure to comply is a serious issue

As the health and safety of workers and the public is a serious issue, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment conduct inspections of workplaces to ensure compliance. If an organisation fails to act in accordance with the law, they can be liable for penalties and fines. 

Additionally, health and safety inspectors can issue improvement notices, that if not abided by can lead to more serious consequences, such as a prohibition notice. This allows an inspector to stop unsafe machinery or work if they believe that injury is likely to occur.

One way to avoid non-compliance penalties and notices is to ensure that all systems are simple and easy to access. Digital platforms such as a safety app can be just what you are looking for. If you would like to know more about this, talk to the experts at SiteApp today