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David Huisman: Three ways to implement safety policies for a safer work environment

Wednesday, 5 Apr 2017 ( #815 )
Your Focus
David Huisman
David Huisman is the managing director of BodyGuard Safety Solutions. BodyGuard offers a safety solution which can lower risk levels on work sites and ensure that staff return home each day to their loved ones.

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A survey conducted by Safe Work Australia for the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 highlighted a relaxed attitude towards risk-taking and rule-breaking by Australian workers. The survey included responses from 1,052 employers, 520 sole traders, 1,311 workers and 669 health and safety representatives (HSRs).

Alarmingly, 10% of workers admitted to ignoring safety policies in order to complete a job. 15% of workers revealed their workplace conditions stopped them from working in a safe and sensible manner. This is potentially 10 to 15% of your workforce placing themselves and your business at risk.

A single accident can cripple your business. Equipment and personnel downtime, workplace accident investigations, increased insurance premiums, vehicle and plant repairs will hurt your bottom line. Worker injuries or fatalities will deplete your workforce and destroy the personal lives of your employees.

While you’re under pressure to meet deadlines, it’s understandable you and your workers may take shortcuts to deliver projects. But the risk isn’t worth it. In fact, implementing solid safety policies and disciplining your employees into safer work practices is imperative to mitigating risks.

Below are three ways to implement safety policies to ensure a safer work environment for everyone.

1) Consult your employees and tailor your policies to fit
In order to implement safety policies and safe work practices successfully, you need to get everyone across the new rules and agree on them. This will include all your health and safety representatives (HSRs), project stakeholders, regular contractors and day-to-day employees. If there’s disagreement, go back to discussing the actual risks and identifying them as a team.
If you can identify the risks in collaboration, you should be able to agree on safety policies to manage those risks as a team. Rather than applying a generic safety policy that doesn’t fully apply to your work environment, you’ll be tailoring the safety policies specifically to your people and environment.
As the employer or manager, make sure everyone leaves your meeting with full knowledge of the personal risks of unsafe work practices. Identifying risks and agreeing on a management methodology together will provide a stronger motivation for employees to follow it.

2) Provide training and utilise questionnaires
When you’ve identified your onsite risks and agreed on safety policies to manage them, you can implement a training program tailored to your environment and your people. General orientation for safety policies and emergency procedures for new employees should be compulsory.
If equipment or processes change, employees will need retraining. When employees have been away for a while, make sure they’re still across your safety policies and are ready to carry out duties as per best practice when they return. Provide specific training around the hazards of their jobs and emergency procedures.
If you’re not sure employees know your safety policies and practices, have them sit a quick questionnaire. With the questionnaire’s results, you’ll be able to identify knowledge gaps or misunderstandings and retrain your employees accordingly.

3) Make your safety policies accessible to everyone
After tailoring your safety policies to your business and training your employees in them, you need to make sure they’re continually followed. You’ll need to make the safety policies accessible to everyone onsite, all day, every day. There’s no use in drawing up a safety policy that everyone will forget.
If employees are in doubt as to what best practice onsite should be, having access to the safety policies you have drawn up and agreed upon as a team should help curb risks onsite.
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