Where would the investigation start if someone was seriously injured or killed…

Thursday September 28, 2017 15:40

... whilst on the job at your organisation?

Worksafe starts at the top. They will want to see the director(s) and they will ask the question “show me you did everything in your power to prevent the accident”.

During that investigation they will be gathering meeting minutes, any risk reviews you’ve conducted and evidence of engagements and participation in the process.

Next, their focus will turn to management, then middle management, then supervisors, down to the worker(s), and then to the contractors you have on-site to determine if they were aware of the hazards and had informed you of the hazards they were creating whilst on your premises.

Have you addressed the hierarchy of control of your workplace hazards, i.e. have you eliminated where possible or minimised where you possibly can.

Have you done everything in your power to prevent accidents?

The penalties include up to $3M in fines for gross negligence (you took no action to make the conditions safer) and/or up to 5 years in jail. These fines are uninsurable.

So, what can you do about it? The remainder of this article will explain.

4 stakeholders have been identified, consider the checklist for each.

On this page

1. H&S Checklist For Your Leadership

See if you can place a tick next to every item in this list.

  1. Are your leaders prioritising the promotion of Health & Safety in your workplace?
    • Are safety issues given the priority they deserve?
    • Do valid safety concerns get escalated to the right people?
    • Have you ensured that no-one is ever told to “harden up” when bringing potential hazards to the leadership's attention?
  2. Is your Health & Safety a collaborative effort to ensure organisational-wide buy-in?
    • Work together to identify the hazards and rate their level of risk
    • Ask for ideas on how to control the risk (use the collective wisdom in the room, have everyone participate in writing the controls)
    • Have each member sign off that they were part of the process
    • For example, for your next risk assessment, bring a collective group together to participate in the process
    • Schedule reviews and include either the whole group or part of the group
    • Has a walk-around inspection been done recently to identify new potential hazards or to ensure controls are in place for registered hazards?
    • Has there been a new accident recently? Is there a new risk we haven’t previously identified as a result of this accident? Bring the group back together
  3. Is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Earmuffs treated as a last resort?
    • Using sound barriers
    • Investing in quieter machines
    • Scheduling noisy machines for after-hours shifts so less workers are exposed
    • Ensure that wearing the gear is enforced
    • Make employees aware that it’s a disciplinary offence and that they/you risk prosecution
    • Gear must meet NZ safety standards and be provided by you in most cases
    • Sharing PPE is not permitted for hygienic reasons
    • Gear must be fit for purpose (Eg ensure safety glasses fit so you may need a range of sizes to fit a range of faces)
    • First, eliminate or reduce noise and minimise exposure by:
    • When PPE is necessary:
  4. Are “Lock Out, Tag Out’s” Taken Seriously?
    • Lock the on-switch
    • Lock the power box
    • Secure a tag that says “Out of Order”
    • If your machinery develops a fault and becomes a hazard because it is no longer safe to operate, what steps do you take to isolate your employees from that machine in it’s unsafe state?
    • Did you know you are required to have Lock Out, Tag Out (LOTO) protocol? It’s not enough to put a sign up, or put the tool away in a cupboard. Employees need to be locked out:
    • Furthermore, do not tolerate workers disconnecting safety devices / safety guards to improve efficiency and productivity. WorkSafe are hot on this right now. You can face an on-the-spot fine of up to $30K. If it resulted in an injury or fatality the courts could fine you up to $3M
  5. Do you conduct pre-employment health screening?
    • If not, and an employee complains about their lung function or back strain during their employment, ACC will assume it’s a result of your working conditions, not a pre-existing condition, and it’s likely to have an impact on your ACC levy
  6. How closely are you monitoring the ongoing health of your workers?
    • You are. In fact, a lack of knowledge is an offence. “I didn’t know” is not good enough. It’s your job to know. That’s your due diligence
    • Whatever you find out must be kept in confidence and not blabbed around the workplace
    • It’s your duty to reduce risk exposure, monitor your workers health, and ensure they are fit
    • The purpose of health monitoring is to ensure safety clothing and equipment is performing it’s function i.e ear muffs are protecting hearing, respirators are protecting lungs
    • Have you scheduled annual health checks?
    • Has a change in their health been detected? Have they recently been diagnosed as diabetic? Are they drowsy for a new heart medication they are on?
    • Approach it with a “Help us help you” attitude and explain “If we are not aware of a current health condition you have, we are powerless to help”
    • Wondering if you are allowed to ask health questions under the Privacy Act?

Were you able to place a tick beside every item in that list? If so, well done!

If not, that's ok, we are here to help, call us on 0800 55 33 44 or email info@securo.co.nz.

2. H&S Checklist For Your Employees

See if you can place a tick next to every item in this list.

  1. During the induction process for new hire’s (which must happen on the first day they start):
    • Emergency plans for the site communicated?
    • Site rules explained?
    • Accident, injury, illness and incident reporting procedures communicated?
    • Shown that the hazards have been risk rated by their peers?
    • Shown how their peers control their exposure?
    • Are they shown the location of the Health & Safety noticeboard and is it up to date?
    • Asked to sign off to acknowledge they understand?
  2. Do they know your expectations when identifying new hazards?
    • Is your policy “If you see a hazard, you own it”? And that it is not acceptable to step over a hazard and leave it behind, that they need to report it so it’s cleaned up. “A hazard is an accident waiting to happen. Your mouth is your most powerful safety tool. Open it.”
  3. Does every employee have a H&S Handbook? If not, draft one and:
    • Include details such as who does what, where the first aid kits are
    • Then gather everyone together, take sufficient time to communicate the content
    • Invite questions and complete a questionnaire of understanding
    • Get everyone to sign off the handbook acknowledging the content of the health and safety handbook
  4. Does every employee have access to your Hazard Risk Register?
    • Do they know where to find it?
    • Do they know how to fill in the hazard report form?
    • Is every hazard taken seriously? Unless management know what the issues are, they cannot resolve them. There is no such thing as a silly suggestion or a “minor” hazard
  5. Do they have easy access to Safe Operating Procedures (SOP’s) which state how the company wants the machine operated safely or the task performed safely
    • It should also stipulate who the approved users are
    • It should also the minimum PPE requirements

Were you able to place a tick beside every item in that list? If so, well done!

If not, that's ok, we are here to help, call us on 0800 55 33 44 or email info@securo.co.nz.

3. H&S Checklist For Your Contractors

See if you can place a tick next to every item in this list.

  1. Have your contractors on site been inducted?
  2. Have they been informed about your hazards?
  3. Have they been asked to explain the hazards they will create whilst on site?
  4. They should also be communicated the emergency plans for the site
  5. They should also understand the injury, illness, and accident reporting requirements
  6. They should acknowledge the rules of the site

Note: When it comes to safety, whilst on-site, you don’t need to distinguish between your employees, the cleaners, contractors, sub-contractors, sub-contractor employees or labour hire’s or temp’s. They are all treated the same. They are all workers as defined under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Were you able to place a tick beside every item in that list? If so, well done!

If not, that's ok, we are here to help, call us on 0800 55 33 44 or email info@securo.co.nz.

4. H&S Checklist For Your Visitors

See if you can place a tick next to every item in this list.

  1. What steps do you take to keep your visitors safe?
  2. Are they informed on:
    • Have they filled in the visitor book?
    • The location and nature of potential hazards?
    • Where the high risk areas are?
    • Is there good signage around to guide them?
    • Do you have escorting procedures in place?
    • What to do in the case of an emergency, and who will escort them?
    • Any other site specific conditions are communicated?
    • Is safety clothing provided for them?

Were you able to place a tick beside every item in that list? If so, well done!

If not, that's ok, we are here to help, call us on 0800 55 33 44 or email info@securo.co.nz.

4 Final Health & Safety Principals To Remember

  1. The importance of near hit reporting and near miss reporting is crucial
    • Workplaces need to have open and honest reporting cultures
    • Near misses that occur today can be addressed and actioned to avoid accidents tomorrow
  2. The last thing that any company wants is witnesses to a workplace accident, reporting during a worksafe investigation that, “it’s always been like that” or “that happened to me last week as well”
    • Too little, too late. So let’s avoid that. We need to know about it sooner rather than later
  3. Safety is easy to maintain, implementation is the hardest
    • Have workers conduct site inspections
    • Have work groups review hazard registers
    • Have managers and safety reps conduct incident investigations
    • Get your team involved
    • The more you delegate, the more involved and engaged your workers will be in the health and safety in your business. Share the load of implementation with them. For example
    • Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility
  4. Hazard and risk management is the cornerstone of H&S in NZ
    • The more robust your hazard and risk management systems are, the less likely there is for injury or harm to your workers

Need Help?

Call Securo on 0800 55 33 44 or email info@securo.co.nz.