Category Archives: Accident and Injury Avoidance

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

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.

How to Manage Heavy Machinery Safety

Managing your heavy machinery safety and operating heavy machinery can both cause issues if the right systems aren’t in place. In August 2014 a scissor lift accident killed a Lyttleton Port worker.  The inquiry, a year later, found that the accident could have been avoided if an effective safety management system had been in place at the Port.  The system could have identified key risk areas and ensured those risks were controlled.

The investigation identified several areas where not enough thought had been given to the risks posed to the Port workers.  These key areas are important to any business that operates heavy machinery.  They are:

  • Maintenance
  • Risk identification for each piece of machinery
  • General operational checks including pre-start checks
  • Operator and maintenance staff training
Heavy machinery at a Port
Heavy machinery can pose a risk to workers

Machinery needs regular maintenance. Different levels of machine servicing or maintenance should be scheduled. A simple clean down may be required at the end of everyday but a full engine overhaul only once a year.  These maintenance records should be readily available to the machine operators, not filed away in the maintenance office.

A risk identification process is needed to identify potential hazards from the machines components or operating environment.   In the case of the Port incident the out-rigger legs were found to be clogged with coal dust. Operating the machinery in an area with coal dust should have been identified as a potential risk to the equipment and steps taken to minimise the effects.

Pre-start checklists are essential when using machinery.   A simple list with diagrams will help identify any potential hazards or faults. Faults can be recorded so that maintenance personnel can be notified if necessary or the machinery removed from use until repairs have been made.  The operator should be able to see the service history and previous checks done on the machinery prior to its operation.

If operated incorrectly, machinery can be a danger to both the operator and workers nearby.  It is very important that only people trained to use a specific piece of machinery operate it. Training registers should be kept to ensure operators have a current licence.  Some machinery will also need specialist mechanics to maintain and repair the machinery.  This was an one of the problems identified at the Lyttleton Port.  Staff had little or no training on the maintenance of the scissor lifts.

Employers need to have a good understanding of how to manage the use of machinery and have instant access to training registers and checklists for the machinery being operated.  Failure to do so could result in injuries to staff, disruption to the business and financial penalties.

Call us now to find out how SiteApp can limit the risk to your machinery operators and the overall business.  Give management real time access to machinery checklists and training registers and allow your machinery operators to carry out their pre-start checklists and risk identification via a smartphone or tablet.

How are we doing? Actively monitoring your safety

In the previous blog we looked at the first two steps of Worksafe New Zealand‘s risk management framework and how your smartphone could be the next big risk management tool. In this blog we will discuss how to actively monitor your safety procedures and how to review them so that the health and safety of your team is always being improved and considered.

Step 3 – Check: Monitor the control measure

You have written your health and safety documents and filed them, however Health and Safety is not just documentation it is something that should be considered every day.  You should check that the measures you put in place are being used by your workers.  Are they wearing their PPE, using the hazard identification and risk mitigation methods?  How you monitor your team is up to you but you will probably use some or all of the following:

  • Inspections, observations and walk-throughs
  • Meetings and worker feedback
  • Checklists and audits
  • Independent reviews
  • Monitoring e.g. using alarms on machinery or checking noise levels

Safety should be being talked about every day.  At your morning meetings you might have a simple checklist with questions that can answered Yes or No, and be completed on your tablet or smartphone.  A robust system will allow results to be emailed to site management so they know that their team are thinking about safety daily.

A typical Toolbox talk form might have six simple questions:

  • Any new procedures to discuss?
  • Any new issues on the site?
  • What is todays work plan?
  • Does todays work plan introduce any new safety issues, if so, what are they?
  • Have any new people been inducted into the site?
  • Has everyone read and signed the Hazard ID?

Step 4 – Act: Review for continuous improvement

You should review your work activities on an ongoing basis to identify any new risks that might need to be managed.  A review will also mean looking at things that went wrong.  All incidents should be treated as learning experiences. At a minimum these questions should be asked:

  • What went wrong?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What can be done to prevent it happening again?

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Monitor your Health and Safety

Incidents need to be recorded quickly and easily.  Photos can be uploaded to show issues clearly or injuries that may have occurred. Accurate, on time reporting is often the key to preventing things happening again.  With this information available processes can be reviewed and altered if required.

Good documentations does not automatically lead to good on site health and safety; however it is the key to monitoring safety.  Call the SiteApp team now and find out how Siteapp can can create your day to day safety checklists or record incidents. By helping to streamline your health and safety processes Siteapp gives you more time to focus on minimising the risks in your business.

Extra protections are important for employees working at heights

One of the riskiest situations that any employee can get into is one where they're assigned to work at a great height. Constructing a roof atop a tall structure, for example, is an unavoidable part of the job, but any worker who attempts to tackle it is inevitably putting themselves in harm's way.

It's crucial to put protections in place that will keep employees from having scary accidents.

That's why it's so crucial for work site supervisors and other business leaders to put protections in place that will keep their employees from having scary accidents. The health of your employees should always be a top priority – keeping people safe will make them happy, motivated and productive. When it comes to precarious situations like heights, you shouldn't take any chances.

Putting edge protections in place

One of the trickiest situations to address when it comes to work site safety involves managing employees who have to work at heights. In most cases, having people stationed high up is unavoidable, so you just have to mitigate risks the best you can.

According to WorkSafe New Zealand, one key way to do this is with edge protection. If you put walls or other barriers around the edges of roofs or other high surfaces, you can keep people from falling far if they slip or trip. Such protections come in many forms. They might consist of a simple bit of scaffolding or guardrailing, or a more concrete barrier like a full-fledged wall.

Fine-tuning your safety checklist

If you really care about the safety of your workers, getting edge protections built for your roofs should be a top priority to add to your work site safety checklist. According to Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, the hallmark of a good manager is the ability to have such protocols in place and follow up, making sure they're enforced.

Come up with a detailed list of work safety initiatives and prioritise them.Come up with a detailed list of work safety initiatives and prioritise them.

Thoroughness is important in this regard. It's crucial to keep a checklist of structures that need to be built and constantly reevaluate the inherent risks on your work site, looking for opportunities to do anything more.

Get an app to document your progress

Of course, building safety apparatuses for roofs is just one of many small tasks you'll need to tackle when handling worker safety, and it can be difficult to coordinate the many moving pieces that are part of the job.

This is why it helps to have a top-quality workplace safety app on your side. Luckily, that's exactly what SiteApp is. One of SiteApp's best features is its efficient documentation process, which allows you to take detailed notes on each new project your staff tackles and share them with ease. Making your workplace safer is a long and complicated process, but we're here to simplify it a little.

Employee fatigue can be a major threat to work site safety

No one is in peak physical condition every minute of every day, and employees in all lines of work have to worry about the effects of fatigue. However, not all workplaces are created equal in this regard.

A fatigued worker could lead to a major breakdown in a large team-oriented process.

In a conventional office job, fatigue is relatively harmless. Even if an employee dozes off at his desk, the impact is often small like a report going unfinished or an email unanswered. At sites that demand a lot of physical labour, however, the stakes are much higher. A fatigued worker could lead to a major breakdown in a large team-oriented process, and someone could get hurt. 

It's important to safeguard against this danger.

What causes workplace fatigue?

Many people think of physical dangers like falls and fires as the chief threats to work site safety, but the truth is that intangible factors like fatigue can be just as bad. According to WorkSafe New Zealand, the safety of your employees might be in jeopardy anytime people are tired and their ability to "perform work safely and effectively" is hindered.

This could happen for any number of reasons. Employees might be tired out because their schedules are too busy, they're sleeping poorly or they're working in unfavorable environments. Additionally, they might have jobs that are too demanding physically, mentally or emotionally. In any event, the hallmark of a good manager is to look out for all of these warning signs and prevent such issues if possible.

How employers can make things better

Fatigue is a very personal thing, and to an extent it's up to the employee to take care of themselves, but managers can definitely help by fine-tuning the work site safety checklist to better prevent fatigue.

Fatigue might be indicative of a larger medical issue.Fatigue might be indicative of a larger medical issue.

WebMD research indicates that sometimes, larger health problems are to blame for an employee's tiredness. Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, anemia, thyroid disease and sleep apnea are all examples of such conditions, and it may be necessary to screen for them. Additionally, lifestyle changes like exercise levels might help with avoiding excessive fatigue.

Track your progress with our mobile solution

Whatever method you use for curbing employee fatigue issues, it's important to monitor your progress and make sure your efforts are working. For this, you need the right safety software, and there's no better option than SiteApp, a mobile solution that gives you total control over the process.

One of SiteApp's key features is its new and improved capacity for safety documentation. The app makes it easy to create jobs, fill them out and log your progress in a way that all stakeholders can view. It creates an entirely new level of collaborative capability for your staff.

Protecting against falls in New Zealand’s construction industry

New Zealand is home to a thriving construction industry. From alterations to civil construction, the industry has a wide range of areas and sub-sectors. Yet, across the board, falls are one of the biggest risks to work site safety

SiteApp can ensure more effective workplace compliance across the board.

In response, the government has outlined a number of specific ways to ensure that workers and employees are safe while on site. Is it possible for multiple companies to ensure they are preventing falls from a height and collaborating across work health and safety systems?

Falls are a source of major concern to authorities

The construction industry is one of the economic pillars in New Zealand. According to the government, close to 180,000 people work in the sector (over 8 per cent of the total workforce), which makes it the sixth largest industry. Additionally, it contributes 6 per cent every year to New Zealand's GDP that puts it on par with the agriculture sector.

The sector relies heavily on labour-only contracting, and as a result, there are fewer opportunities to train less-skilled workers. Therefore, contractors sometimes lack the required skills needed to operate safely, making it imperative to have robust and simple safety processes in place. 

WorkSafe New Zealand points out that falls from roofs and ladders at a height of three metres or less account for 18 per cent of injury causing accidents. 

As such, it is essential that contractors, construction companies, and developers understand their responsibilities as well as how they can help avoid this on their sites. 

What rights do workers have?What rights do construction workers have?

Rights of construction workers 

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, construction workers are offered a number of rights to stay safe at work. These can include the right to work in a safe environment, where hazards are managed by employers and workers are made aware of how to keep themselves safe. 

Additionally, this can also mean that all equipment, such as workplace tools, vehicles and machinery, are safe to use and in good working order. 

When this comes to working at heights, workers have the right to the use of a safe ladder – one that is not damaged or in a state of disrepair that could lead to an injury. Additionally, workers have the right to a safe worksite no matter where they are or the type of work they are doing. 

Organisational responsibilities

In response to workers' rights, organisations need to ensure that they're satisfying their responsibilities when workers undertake activities from a height. 

With some sites having multiple contractors and construction companies working on it, there is a greater need to ensure that these responsibilities are understood by all stakeholders. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, companies are required to engage with both workers and organisations to ensure that safety is approached in a responsible way. 

Organisations need to ensure that safety is approached in a responsible way.

Unfortunately, many of the older, paper-based systems are unable to interact with one another due to the large volume of forms and other documentation needed. While they may be able to do the job, there are more effective ways of ensuring that workers' safety rights are protected. For instance, safety software can bring together all the required documentation and make is accessible from one source. Additionally, applications such as SiteApp can simplify compliance by managing the documentation of accurate information, and effective processes. 

If you are worried that your safety system is not properly encouraging workers to undertake safe activities when working from heights, talk to SiteApp today. Their safety application can help you keep a track of all the safety processes in action on your sites.