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.