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.

Good Safety Doesn’t Need More Paperwork

Most companies have assumed that new Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 is a tedious compliance exercise involving increased amounts of paperwork.   However it is about being responsible for the health and safety of everyone at risk from a company’s work including its workers, customers, visitors, or the general public.  It does involve paperwork but is mostly about proving good health and safety procedures are operating within your company and that you have done everything possible to reduce “risk”.

For small business people, less paperwork means higher profits, boosted sales and more time with the family.  Tony Abbott (Australian MP)

Most people hate having to do any paperwork. Doing paperwork or process related tasks take them out of the field and away from the actual job.

In most cases, the burden of handling and processing paperwork falls on the shoulders of the foreman and management.  This often leaves them spending more time sifting through documentation than assessing physical risks at building sites.

Safety paperwork
You don’t need to do more paperwork to keep safe

Keen to reduce your paperwork but rather be out on site assessing risks and remaining compliant? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Paperwork at the time

The biggest hassle about doing paperwork is the time it takes. Knowing that doing paperwork is a least favourite task for most people, many either put it off till the last minute or rush through the process just to be done with it.  What happens when things are rushed? Mistakes are made.  Where safety is involved mistakes cannot be made.

The best information is often that collected in the moment. With an online system available on tablet or smartphone the paperwork can be completed at the time of an incident, before a job is carried out or immediately after.

Eliminate the paper whenever possible

Take a look at your processes and forms. Do you ask the same questions on several forms? Are all the forms necessary? Can a simple computer program or online form be used instead so people don’t have to fill out paperwork but can just fill in an online form where the basic information is stored and re-used? Often using a computer program (online or off) will also automate things so paperwork isn’t needed. Or just eliminate the paperwork altogether if it’s possible.  Could one photo be better than 100 words describing a work hazard?

Electronic signatures

Often a manager becomes a bottleneck, requiring their approval before anything can get done. Using electronic systems means that documents can be sighted by a manager electronically and signed electronically too.  This means documents don’t pile up unseen on the managers desk. Approval gets back in the field quickly.

Have the information you need ready

If you don’t have information, you can’t make decisions properly. If you haven’t the paperwork to hand and have to leave the site to get it valuable time is lost.  Technology has changed all this; with offline functionality and storage in the cloud documentation can be wherever you are. The same document can be shared across several sites and you will know they are all working off the same version.  Has the computer ever “eaten” your document? With automatic back-ups to the cloud this is no longer a problem.

 

Thinking of reducing your paperwork but wanting to remain compliant?  Siteapp can manage all your Health and Safety compliance documentation in the cloud.   A document system wherever you are.  Call now for more information.

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?

1

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.

Your smartphone – a new tool for risk management

A change in legislation in April 2016 means new Health and Safety responsibilities for everyone in the workplace. The new law is aimed at reducing the number of serious work-related injuries and deaths in New Zealand.  The government wants this legislation to ensure that everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe.  The introduction of this legislation has caused some confusion, however in essence it is about risk management.  Usually a business will not be able to eliminate all its risks but where they can’t be eliminated they do need to show that they have taken steps to minimise those risks.

Worksafe New Zealand has some great tools online to help you manage the risks.  In this blog we will discuss the first two steps of their risk management framework.

Step 1 – Plan: Identify and assess the risks

You walk around the work site.  You write a list of things that could seriously harm the health or endanger the safety of your workers and others (e.g visitors, bystanders, or contractors). These problems could be immediate or occur over a long period of time (RSI).  What do you do next?  You write them on a board or on a sheet of paper and file it; but are words always the best way to identify a risk?  In the age of smartphones, this is where a quick snap of the problem can help. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  By adding photos to a job specification your workers and contractors can see what the hazards are even before coming on site.

Now you have to prioritise the risk, here there are two things to consider:

  • the likelihood of exposure to that risk, i.e. how many people are exposed, how often etc, and
  • potential consequences of exposure to the hazard, i.e. whether serious injury may result.

By asking two simple questions and using a risk matrix assessment a “risk rating” can be given to each hazard. Where exposure is more likely and the potential consequences more severe the risk rating is higher.

Step 2 – Do: Eliminate or minimise the risks

How can this risk be reduced?  Include some hazard control measures and then reassess whether they have reduced the risk to acceptable levels.

Hazard control measures may include:

  • Eliminating the hazard or task totally.
  • Isolating the hazard by using barriers or distance e.g. put barriers up to keep the general public outside the danger zone.
  • Using engineering controls such ventilation to remove dust or fumes
  • Establishing safe work practices, such as restricting access to the area and keeping the areas clutter free.
  • Providing training and supervision at an appropriate level.
  • Providing the correct personal protective equipment and ensuring it is worn.

Taking photos of work site hazards may not be as interesting as taking “selfies”, but using the camera on your smartphone or tablet and Siteapp has the potential to reduce risk and make work site hazards more visible to your workers and contractors.

Keep work sites clean to reduce risk

Risk management can be as easy as taking a picture with your phone.

What jobs put your team at higher risk?  Siteapp uses colour coding for easy identification of high risk jobs. Call today and find out how Siteapp can simplify your risk assessment and keep your team in the green safe zone.

Stress and low morale can put a damper on workplace safety

Most managers, when they think of workplace safety issues, their minds go first to preventing tangible physical threats such as fires. These are the most obvious threats to employee health and wellness, and it's of course important to address them. But sometimes, the more serious risk is less physical and more mental.

Something as simple as a small interpersonal conflict can boil over and become a much larger issue.

Low morale and high stress are issues that affect millions of people daily. Something as simple as a small interpersonal conflict at work can boil over and become a much larger issue, throwing off the cohesion and collaborative ability of an entire team. Managers should look to identify the causes of such issues and prevent them whenever possible.

What causes stress at work?

While stress isn't as obvious a threat to work site safety as some of the more blatant physical hazards, it can still be a major problem. According to WorkSafe New Zealand, workplace morale can become a significant threat whenever an issue – be it a difficult work task or an interpersonal squabble – is allowed to fester.

Such troubles come in all shapes and forms. Stress might originate because an employee is physically or mentally fatigued with their work. It may stem from harsh feedback that one employee gives about another. All kinds of negative experiences that seem relatively harmless at first could potentially grow into bigger disruptions.

How managers can improve the situation

Stress will always be a threat in the workplace on some level, but it's one that managers can mitigate if they're willing to make some adjustments to the work site safety checklist, considering more than just physical hazards.

Stress can be a major problem for employees.

Work distractions are one example of an often-overlooked danger. If people are unable to focus on their work, they're likely to struggle with it, and that can boil over into larger problems. According to Forbes, the healthiest workplace culture is one in which people are proactive, addressing challenges as they come and not letting them eat away at their productivity.

Go paperless, improve morale

The best way to ensure that your staff stays healthy, both physically and mentally, is to use a workplace safety app that can keep an eye on staff members and make sure you're apprised of any potential issues. SiteApp is great for this, as it's a mobile solution that offers you complete visibility into your staff.

What's more, the app also makes it easy to share information using paperless workflow. Forget about tracking the health of your employees using piles of paperwork – those days are over. Now, you can manage health issues quickly, painlessly and in real time.

Monitoring employees can help ensure their continued safety

Most people have a negative gut reaction to the idea of being monitored at work. It has an unnerving connotation, evoking the Orwellian idea that "Big Brother is watching you." Following your employees too closely can make them feel paranoid and uncomfortable.

The hallmark of a good manager is the ability to enforce safe and responsible work practices.

On the other hand, proper oversight is important for improving their safety. The hallmark of a good manager is the ability to keep one's eye on staff members and ensure they're engaging in safe and responsible work practices. If monitoring their work is what it takes to do this, then perhaps it's not so bad an idea after all.

Changing your workplace culture

If you're going to start monitoring your employees more closely, a good first step is to change your company culture so that people expect to be monitored and are OK with it. According to Entrepreneur, this can be done – Andrew Walls, security and risk analyst at Gartner, told the magazine that the key is to be transparent about your intentions.

"You need to have the transparency, that fully informed consent, or you run into morale issues or legal issues," he said.

There's nothing wrong with monitoring people if you're doing it for their own good – i.e., to keep them healthy and safe. If you establish from the start that that's your goal, everyone should get on board.

Giving structure to the workforce

The beauty of monitoring your employees is it should help give structure to your staff and their workflows. For example, if you've found that certain people are more productive in some roles and shifts than others, you can make adjustments to workers' schedules that will help them improve their work.

Technology can help with setting optimal work schedules.Technology can help with setting optimal work schedules.

You can also use technology to help people learn safer work habits. According to Hubstaff research, that's the thinking behind the recent rise of mobile work site safety. The software company found that monitoring employees and their work habits helps protect them against both physical threats and cyber ones.

Find the right safety app for you

If you really care about the well-being of your employees, it makes sense to keep a watchful eye on them and make sure their work is going smoothly. So why not use a workplace safety app to make this happen? As it turns out, SiteApp can be precisely this app.

SiteApp offers remote monitoring capabilities. This means that even if employers and their managers aren't sharing the same work site at all times, it's still easy for them to keep in touch and share information. Work in the 21st century is dynamic and mobile – why shouldn't your safety app be much the same way?

Electronic signatures add a new level of convenience to safety documents

From time to time, just about everyone in business has to deal with one common burdensome task – signing lots of paperwork. Whether you're an entry-level employee filling out a time card or a CEO inking important contracts, everybody's got to sign something, and usually often.

If you're still penning your name on form after form, you should know it's no longer necessary.

After a while, the task can start to feel repetitive and pointless. After all, this is the 21st century, and modern technology has already made countless rote business tasks easier and more efficient. Isn't it about time signatures became one of them?

As a matter of fact, they are. If you're still tediously penning your name on form after form, you should know it's no longer necessary – especially where workplace safety is concerned.

A highly efficient and secure process

If you spend a lot of time filling out forms for safety documentation, it certainly makes sense to spend a little time searching for a more efficient way to do so. According to TechTarget, digital signatures are that way – they work just as well as a regular signature, only they're faster and more secure as well, since they address the problems of tampering and impersonation.

TechTarget noted that in many countries, digital signatures have become so popular that government bodies have granted them the same legal significance as more traditional signings. This trend will only continue as paperless work keeps gaining ground.

The benefits of going paperless

Is your business considering a transition from a pen and paper-based method of safety documentation toward more of a mobile work site safety strategy? If you're not thinking about that possibility, you probably should be. According to research from DocuSign, paperless work processes bring many benefits.

Why deal with piles of paper when you don't have to?Why deal with piles of paper when you don't have to?

Chief among them is cost saving. If you no longer have to worry about printing, scanning and couriering documents, that's a tremendous financial burden lifted right away. In addition, paperless work is often faster than its traditional counterpart, and it allows multiple stakeholders to collaborate more easily.

Embracing a better workplace safety app

The best way to go paperless with your work safety inspections is to use a tablet with a safety app. More specifically, SiteApp should be your mobile solution of choice, as it makes it easy to gather your documents and sign them electronically as well.

Why waste time physically signing forms when you don't have to? SiteApp's integrated signature capturing technology makes it easy to fill out paperwork and store it for as long as you need. It's fast, easy, efficient and bound to help your business do more with less.

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.

New Zealand placing stronger emphasis on workplace safety

Every company has a clear interest in building a workforce that's healthy and free from safety risks. A healthy staff is one that works productively, avoids unnecessary interruptions and consistently adds value to the business.

A healthy staff is one that works productively, avoids unnecessary interruptions and consistently adds value to the business.

If you zoom out a bit, it's also clear that New Zealand as a whole benefits when its workers are healthy. This leads to a strong economy, lower health costs and a generally higher quality of life. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the national government is currently showing an increased level of emphasis on enforcing health standards. The positive impact of this move should steadily trickle down to companies and their employers.

New Zealand government leads the charge

For evidence of New Zealand's commitment to health and safety, one should begin by looking at the top. According to a New Zealand Government press release, the country has begun to focus more heavily on safety since the recent passage of the Health and Safety Reform Bill, which will mandate that companies enforce safety rules and educate employees about the risks they face.

The government has high aspirations with this new law. The hope is that by 2020, workplace injuries and deaths will be 25 per cent lower than they are today. To make this happen, companies will need better enforcement tools and more participation from workers in safety training courses.

How companies can spread the word

The first step toward creating a safer workforce is building awareness. If you can disseminate safety documentation materials throughout the workforce, you should be able to drive renewed interest in health and reform the culture of your organisation.

Spread the word about safety to your whole organisation.Spread the word about safety to your whole organisation.

This begins by making your company's safety rules accessible and visible to everyone. Once you've made everyone aware of the ground rules, you can start to draw up a hierarchy of accountable people in your organisation who are in charge of enforcing safety standards. An emphasis on healthy work practices should begin from your top-level business leadership and trickle down.

Making compliance simple and automatic

Perhaps the best way of disseminating safety compliance information to the entire workforce is to use a highly convenient workplace safety app. That's where SiteApp comes in – we offer a mobile application that makes it easy for your personnel to share information about people's wellness and productivity.

One of our app's many features is its ability to simplify compliance. By verifying that your safety info is always accurate and your work processes remain effective, SiteApp takes all the frustration out of workplace safety. As a result, your staff gets to return to what they do best – working productively.

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.