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:
- Poor communication
- Poor decision making
- A state of apathy
- Slowed reaction time
- 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
- 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.
- Make communication easy – employees should feel comfortable about discussing whether particular processes/shifts are causing fatigue issues.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rosters should allow for employees to have adequate rest time so that they arrive at work well rested.
- 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
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
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:
- Everybody needs to be a role model. Everyone is accountable for being visibly involved in safety, especially managers and supervisors.
- Share you safety vision. Ensure everyone knows your company’s safety expectations. Induction training should include the company’s safety vision.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.