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Workplace Health and SafetyJanuary 9, 2017
Alarming statics have recently been released from WorkSafe New Zealand, which show that there were 290 fatal work related incidents during the period of 2011 to November 2016.
Considering this, there is no better time to review the health and safety requirements of your workplace to ensure it is free from hazards, but more so, if your business function is deemed dangerous, that all possible preventative measures and protections are in place. Identified below are some key aspects to consider and review in any workplace.
Identification of risks and hazards.
Depending on the core function of your business, hazards may or may not be prevalent. In any case, it is your responsibility as an employer or business owner to identify any hazards or potential risks and, as far as reasonably practicable, remove or minimise them to ensure the safety of all workers and others within your workplace.
Conducting a workplace audit and engaging your staff to assist in identifying any risks or hazard is central to this process. Ensuring communication channels are open or pinpointing other ways for staff to report risks and hazards will help with the recognition and removal of them.
Supervision and training.
It is a crucial obligation of employers to ensure all staff using plant and equipment, or handling dangerous chemicals or other substances in the workplace, are highly trained in the function and safety protocols before they begin. Once the worker commences using it the equipment or handling the chemicals, they should be supervised by highly skilled personnel until they are more experienced. Workers in these capacities should also receive regular and ongoing training to ensure continual safe use or handling.
Policies and procedures.
Any workplace, regardless of the type and function, needs to have clearly defined policies and procedures in place. Emergency procedures are paramount for all businesses and outline a clear plan in the event of evacuation due to fire or any other emergency.
Safety policies and procedures are also crucial in many working environments and stipulate how work must be carried out to prevent accidents. These policies and procedures should include precautionary measures and other ways to ensure safety in more dangerous working environments.
Any policy and procedure devised needs to be clearly communicated to all employees and presented in writing to ensure they have the opportunity to read and understand the requirements. It is best practice to request an acknowledgement form to be signed by each employee and kept on file. If you adapt or introduce a new safety policy and procedure, all employee must be made aware and requested to re-sign a new acknowledgement form.
Keep copies of these policies and procedures in common areas, such as a notice board or staff room, where they can be easily accessed. Make sure you keep staff updated on changes, or allow for recommendations to be made at all staff meetings or toolbox talks.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is any type of protective clothing, other garment or equipment that is designed to protect a person from injury or infection. This equipment is provided to protect against physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne hazards.
PPE is a fundamental aspect in many industries to protect workers while carrying out potentially dangerous activities. Whether it be safety harnesses when working from heights or jackets to protect against the elements when working outdoors, it is the responsibility of employers to understand what workers require, provide the appropriate items when necessary, and where required, maintain and service equipment to make sure it is in good working order.
Keeping a log of all equipment will allow you to manage its use, its age and its condition, while allowing you to keep track of when maintenance was last carried out.
It is important to remain on top of your obligations when it comes to protecting your employees and all others in your workplace. Employsure is the leading workplace relations specialist and can assist with any questions or concerns you have relating to health and safety in your workplace. Speak with a specialist today on 0800 675 700.