Category Archives: Workplace Compliance

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 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.

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.

Keep your business nimble amid new work safety regulations

In New Zealand, the government has always had nationwide standards in place to ensure employers look out for the health and safety of their workers. There's some wiggle room in the laws, and every manager has the right to set their own standards to a certain extent, but there's a nationwide baseline that everyone must at least meet, if not exceed.

If you manage a New Zealand business, it's important to respond to the changing rules.

In 2016, that baseline is rising as the government continues to roll out new standards governing worker safety. If you manage a New Zealand business, especially one where workers are frequently at risk, it's important to stay agile and respond well to the changing rules.

What's changing in 2016?

New Zealand has always demanded that employers ensure health and safety at work, but the rules are only becoming more stringent. This year, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the latest development is a mandate for health and safety representatives. If you run a business where employees are in high-risk situations, workers can request an H&S rep, and you will be obligated to provide one.

With this mind, now is a good time to review your company's workflows and assess employees' risk levels. What are the chances of an employee getting hurt on your premises? How seriously would such an injury be? Once you have these answers, you can start off on the path toward compliance.

Revisiting your safety framework

If you're ever in doubt about the risk levels your employees are facing, it's never a bad idea to go back over your work site safety checklist and revisit a few of the key points. According to Safety and Health Magazine, two of your primary areas of focus should be slip, trip and fall prevention and fire safety.

Protect against risky situations for your employees.Protect against risky situations for your employees.

As for the former point, reducing clutter and ensuring a clean, orderly workspace will make it less likely that employees have accidents that lead to injury. For the latter, fire safety is also largely the product of cleanliness – if there are hazardous materials and wastes scattered around your site, people are going to be at risk. The solution is clear. A more orderly workspace will benefit everyone.

Take control of health and safety

To ensure compliance with all of New Zealand's safety laws, you've got to keep a close watchful eye on your employees and their work. So why not purchase a workplace safety app to help you do it? That's exactly what you get with SiteApp.

SiteApp is a powerful tool that helps you regain control over worker health and safety. A big reason for this is its capability for remote monitoring. With our app, it's always easy to check up on your personnel, even if they're offsite working on disparate projects. You never want to lose sight of your employees or their safety – and fortunately, with SiteApp, you'll never have to.

Why cloud computing is ideal for your company’s safety data

One of the most challenging aspects of handling workplace safety is the sheer volume of data you're dealing with. Every location you operate in and project you undertake brings a new stockpile of information – training materials, compliance documents, insurance info and so on. The bigger and more complex your business becomes, the more you have to deal with.

It makes sense to invest in better resources for governing all your data and handling it properly.

With this in mind, it makes sense to invest in better resources for governing all that data and handling it properly. You want your information to be safe, secure, readily accessible and easy for employees to work with.

These days, that means using the cloud.

Cloud is soaring in popularity

When it comes to workplace safety documentation, there's no better way to store and safeguard your data than to keep it in the cloud. Nowadays, just about everyone is doing it. According to IBISWorld research, the market for data storage services in Australia alone is now making revenues of $2 billion annually.

The cloud is a huge reason for this. Companies have turned to the cloud because it's made it easy to control storage space and costs, scaling up and down based on the business' changing needs – a key capability in a dynamic business world.

Transitioning to one cloud solution

If your company is like most, you probably have an extensive work site safety checklist with a long series of tasks and challenges on it. Ideally, it would be good to move the entire list to the cloud, rather than rely on a process that's siloed and piecemeal.

Bring all your data together with one unified cloud.Bring all your data together with one unified cloud.

According to PCWorld, everything about your workflow will change dramatically once you have a single cloud solution you can trust. You can start to move everything relevant to your company and its safety concerns under one roof – new email attachments, old files, mobile downloads and so on. The cloud, when used right, should become one centralised hub for all of your business' pertinent information.

A mobile app can change everything

The best way to improve safety at your company is to attack it with a twofold strategy – the cloud, and mobile. This is where SiteApp comes in, as it's a workplace safety app that will make it easy for your employees and their managers to track safety data using tablets, not clipboards and papers.

Because SiteApp includes storage in the cloud, your internal workflows will be easier than ever. We have an innovative system that allows all your documentation to be stored conveniently and securely. When it comes to keeping your people safe and documenting it, this is the next level.

What goes into a successful paperless transition?

That safety is a prerequisite to everything else. Before your employees can be productive and profitable, they first need to be safe and secure. Ensuring that security requires managing all sorts of documents – training manuals, legal forms and so on.

What if managers could simply use a straightforward paperless process?

Lately, a key question has arisen at many places of business – what if we could make that document management process more efficient? What if, instead of sifting through piles and piles of forms just to find the one they needed, managers could simply use a straightforward paperless process?

Many are currently doing just that. Is it time for your company to make the transition?

What it takes to effect change

If your organisation is like most, it's got an extensive work site safety checklist with a lot of boxes to check off. Employees need to be trained, machinery needs to be tested and well maintained, and so on. This process is difficult, but it's far easier if you have a procedure for going paperless and organising all your information digitally.

For example, across the ditch, the Australian government has established a "digital transition policy." This framework has a few key objectives. First, the goal is to enlist senior management to support the paperless movement and provide necessary resources. Second, they want to reduce their existing paper stockpiles by digitising old documents. Finally, they also aim to manage incoming data seamlessly without sacrificing productivity.

Nurturing the ongoing process

As the digitisation process goes on, it will be difficult to sustain momentum. Going paperless and staying that way is a team effort. To ensure success, managers must be able to rally the whole staff behind their new digital strategy.

There's all sorts of compliance data you need to manage effectively.There's all sorts of compliance data you need to manage effectively.

In addition, teams will have to stay mindful of their need for workplace compliance. Government regulations can be pretty stringent when it comes to occupational safety, and staying compliant is important.

How SiteApp drives business improvement

Once you've taken all those paper-based documents and converted them to digital formats, you can really start to work more efficiently – and of course, a workplace safety app can help with this.

With SiteApp, however, you get more than just a safety app. What you really get is a powerful tool that refocuses your business on safety, efficiency, compliance and, overall, running a competitive business. There's nothing else on the market quite like it. Go paperless today, and dominate your market tomorrow.

Fire safety while on site

Fire is a major health and safety risk, no matter what role or sector you are currently working in. It can consume rooms and buildings in seconds and can leave more than a repair bill at the end.

As such, it is essential that workers know what to do when they need to – this also involves organisations having up-to-date fire safety systems in place. Failure to ensure workplace health and safety compliance can also lead to large financial fines, not to mention the human cost of poor work site safety.

A safety app can be a major boost to your health and safety procedures.

Fire leads to big fines for company

A recent incident involving gas cutting work has left a man with serious injuries and a Taranaki scrap metal yard with large fines. The worker was cutting a wire rope with a gas cutter back in 2014 when his overalls caught fire. His attempts to use the fire hose to douse the flames were foiled as there was no running water. This was because the council had shut it off to repair a broken fire hydrant.

The company the gas cutter was working for was given a two-day warning that the water would be shut off. However, the worker was not told.

While a colleague put out the flames with a wet rag, the worker suffered serious burns and spent over a week in hospital. 

WorkSafe's Chief Inspector Keith Stewart said the company should have had a plan in place to deal with this contingency. He believes it should also have fire extinguishers and water available whenever gas cutting is being undertaken.

"If you're doing anything where there is a real risk of fire you have to be prepared to put it out. Given that the water was off that day it would have been prudent to avoid gas-cutting work altogether," he said. 

Health and safety includes fire-prevention processes. Health and safety includes fire-prevention processes.

Construction site safety and fire precautions

Construction presents a number of unique challenges to work site safety, and fire is a major hazard. The case above is a clear example where a company has failed to have the necessary processes in place to protect workers. 

While there are a number of contingencies, hazards and risks to keep track off, there is no excuse for failure. One way to ensure processes are properly implemented and maintained is through the use of a safety app – such as SiteApp.

With a range of features on offer, organisations can make sure that their staff and their processes are up-to-date. If you would like to know more, contact a representative of SiteApp today. 

Safety nets and temporary structures: Staying safe while working at a height

Working in construction comes with a number of risks. From mechanical failure to misuse of tools, the risk of injury is always one mistake away. While the Health and Safety at Work Act has placed greater emphasis on health and safety responsibilities, there are still many actions, behaviours and perspectives that need to be cleared up. 

How can safety software help your company with safety nets?

One of the most important is the use of safety nets during projects that involve working from heights.

Heights still the biggest risk

Nearly everyone in New Zealand's construction industry are aware that working from heights carries with it a number of risks.

According to the New Zealand government, close to a third of all serious harm incidents in the construction industry occur as a result of trips, slips or falls. Between 2007 and 2009, there were 340 reported accidents involving falling, with nine of them being fatal. 

Around half of all falls come from temporary structures, as it made up the largest group of all incidents. Temporary structures include ladders, trestles and scaffolding and with 70 per cent of all falls coming from temporary structures less than 3 metres, there are plenty of precautions companies can take. 

Using nets to save lives

One of the ways the country is looking to decrease the rate at which people are hurt and killed while working from heights is through the use of safety nets. Whether it's a quick job on a roof or a longer project involving scaffolding, safety nets can be a life-saving installation. 

However, according to WorkSafe New Zealand, many nets are being used to catch timber, rather than people. Inspectors have found that nets are filled with fallen timber and are not cleared quickly, making them a hazard in the event of a fall. 

Specifically, WorkSafe found that loading a net up with timber, other building materials or tools can impact the tension of the net and significantly affect its effectiveness. In response, workers should clear nets of any fallen off-cuts as quickly as possible to ensure that the nets can do what they were intended to do. 

How can safety nets ensure workers are safe when working at heights?How can safety nets ensure workers are safe when working at heights?

Nets making a difference

One of the major developments over the last few years has been the creation of the Fall Arrest Safety Net Association (FASNA). Not only is it indicative of the emphasis the industry places on the value of safety nets, it is also a platform for stakeholders to work together. 

When industry bodies come together to work on a safety concern, it can lead to higher standards, better information and a general professionalism. With more and more industry led associations popping up in the construction industry, there has been a real and measured impact. 

WorkSafe reported that the industry has made significant strides in reducing the number of falls. For instance, serious harm incidents resulting from falls have decreased by almost 30 per cent between 2012 and 2014. With organisations like FASNA promoting safe net use and creating codes such as the Safe Use of Safety Nets Best Practice Guidelines, falls are forecast to drop again. 

Safety documentation can be shared through SiteApp.

Using technology to manage nets

Health and safety systems are essential to ensure that nets are installed, maintained and used properly. As with all risk-management methods, the greater introduction of nets can lead to even more paperwork. 

For construction companies that use effective and quality safety software, this is not a problem. Take SiteApp for instance, a construction company can load up a new document, form or application and not have to worry about it being lost or damaged. Even better, it can be shared with all those on site for maximum effectiveness. 

If you would like to know more about safety apps, talk to the experts at SiteApp today. 

Three WorkSafe videos you need to see

With the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the legislation introduced a number of new requirements for both businesses and workers. In many respects, businesses with strong health and safety processes were in a secure position from the offset. However, due to the new wording, and the introduction of new concepts and definitions, many contractors and businesses are unsure about what the Act and its obligations mean to them.

In response to this environment of ambiguity, WorkSafe New Zealand released several short films that aim to clear the air. These "Icebreakers", as they are called, combine present crucial information about work site safety in the most quintessential Kiwi way.

So to help you understand how the Act is to be interpreted, here are three Icebreakers to get you learning and laughing all at the same time.

Icebreaker 1: Is it Reasonably Practicable?

When the Act was introduced last year, the phrase "reasonably practicable" was widely misunderstood. Yet, the term is of much importance and can be found throughout the Act.

The term ensures that the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) was doing everything in its power to keep workers safe and healthy. The term is an indication that a PCBU is expected to make a judgement call that involves considering the risk against the available resources.

WorkSafe points out organisations that follow industry best practice when carrying out tasks are likely to already be taking satisfactory actions to ensure health and safety. 

Icebreaker 2: Risk management

Another key component of the Act is the effective management of risks through the identification of new hazards. Keeping workers safe from harm involves identifying and managing the risks that face workers on an everyday basis. 

In the video below, the manager is helping another know about a new hazard that will be on the floor that day. Additionally, she has put in place a risk a management system that can effectively govern the new hazards. 

WorkSafe advises employers and employees to manage the most significant and crucial risks first before moving on to less serious risks. Like the manager in the video, behaviour, knowledge and the processes themselves should be continuously monitored and revised to ensure that all new risks are accounted for and workplace health and safety compliance is achieve. 

Icebreaker 3: Working with others towards health and safety

As all builders know, construction sites are typically buzzing with activity. From waterproofing professionals to scaffolding, the number of different people and businesses working on a site can make safety compliance a difficult proposition. 

However, ensuring businesses work together towards a safe work site is a fundamental aspect of the new Act. Where two or more businesses overlap, so do their responsibilities to health and safety. What this means is that businesses need to ensure they consult, liaison and coordinate with others to ensure they meet their obligations under the Act. 

According to the government, every week one person dies at work, while another 15 people die from work-related diseases. New Zealand's health and safety record is twice as bad as our trans-Tasman neighbours, while it is three times worse than the UK's. With the cost of deaths, injuries and other health issues estimated at $3.5 billion and the unquantifiable emotional costs on family and friends, the government has made it a priority for businesses to work together. 

One of the best ways to ensure that your business is compliant with the new Act is through safety software, such as the cloud-based SiteApp. Not only does it condense the workload by making your safety documentation easily accessible, it also can help monitoring as information is displayed in real time. 

If you would like to know more, talk to the experts at SiteApp today and find out how they can customise the application to fit your compliance and business needs.