“You don’t need to know the whole alphabet of Safety. The A, B, C of it will save you if you follow it: Always Be Careful.” – Colorado School of Mines Magazine
When we leave for work, we put all our energies into the work environment, with the assumption that everything is safe and reliable without worrying about our safety. Similarly, Employers strive to provide the best workplace for their employees and visitors, but while best practices and all precautions are in place, workplace risks and hazards cannot be eliminated.
Look at the annual world statistics provided by the International Labour Organization which highlights the magnitude of this global issue.
In Australia alone, the serious claim statistics for the year 2018-19 provided by Safe Work Australia show the extent of the damage and its impact on the workplace and employers.
Ensuring workplace safety is not only an obligation of organizations, it’s also a duty to control workplace risk to do more than just compliance activities. Indeed, managing your workplace health and safety obligations is a complex and complicated process. You are constantly required to assess, mitigate, and control the risks that may impact the health, safety, and welfare of the employees and visitors of your workplace.
This post will look at workplace safety from several lenses and viewpoints and explain the best approaches and practices for managing and controlling hazards.
The Employer’s Responsibility
“Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.”– Anon
An employer’s primary responsibility is to ensure a safe working environment by eliminating health and safety hazards. If risk elimination is not attainable, risk minimization is required to the extent that it is practically reasonable. Employers must make certain that:
- the provision and maintenance of a safe and healthy working environment, including safe access to and from the workplace
- the provision and maintenance of safe and non-hazardous work equipment, structures, and systems (for example providing effective guards on machines and regulating the pace and frequency of work)
- Safe use, handling, storage and transportation of plants, structures and substances (toxic chemicals, dust, fibers, etc.)
- Providing appropriate facilities for the health of workers in the workplace (washrooms, lockers, cafeterias)
- Providing workers with the information, instructions, training, or supervision needed to carry out their work without jeopardizing the health and safety of workers and those around them
- Workers From the implementation of businesses or companies that monitor their health and workplace conditions and prevent consequent injuries and illnesses
- Accommodations they own or manage to ensure the health and safety of workers on the premises Maintain
- In addition, they must maintain any property they own or manage to ensure the safety and health of the workers who occupy the premises.
The Employee‘s Responsibility
“You are your last line of defense in safety. It boils down to you.”– Kina Repp
Employers and employees are both equally accountable for maintaining a safe workplace. Hence Employees, on the other hand, must follow all workplace safety regulations and take all possible precautions to stay safe. They must also:
- follow any reasonable instruction given by the employer to allow the employer to comply with the regulations to the best of their ability, and
- cooperate with any reasonable policy or practise of the Employer relating to occupational health and safety.
Employees must pay attention to training and induction processes and safety systems and papers to ensure that they are aware of the correct procedures for safely carrying out their activities in the workplace. Employees may be held legally liable if they fail to meet their workplace health and safety requirements, resulting in injury to themselves or a co-worker.
Role of the Supervision
Workplace supervision is a critical component of meeting your workplace health and safety duties. Supervisors keep an eye on personnel and keep track of procedures to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The supervisor must be knowledgeable and well-trained in order to appropriately manage personnel. Supervisors should:
- be knowledgeable with their employees’ skill sets, credentials, and skills
- know the company’s procedures and WHS regulations.
- They should also be capable of giving orders and taking an authoritative position.
4 Steps to Managing Hazards and Risks
You must identify, assess, control, and review control methods to address all hazards and risks in order to achieve a safe work environment and manage your workplace health and safety requirements. We recommend you take the following four steps:
Identify Hazards & Risks
Anything that has the potential to cause injury, illness or harm to your health is considered a hazard. Workplace hazards might include:
- manual tasks & untidy workplaces
- bullying and violence
- working at heights
- defective or unguarded machines
- Toxic chemicals & noise
- poor work design
The first step in ensuring a safe workplace is to identify hazards. There are a number of ways to find hazards in your workplace:
- ask workers and contractors in your workplace about any hazards they may have noticed
- Check the physical structure of your workplace: for example, stairs, desks, floors, exits, driveways
- check all machines, devices, equipments, appliances and vehicles used for work
- examine how items are stored, used and moved from one place to another
- review your injury records, especially the ‘near misses’
- review information from designers, manufacturers or suppliers of the equipment and substances in your workplace.
- Use the checklist to examine the work environment, employee tasks, and machines / equipment used in the workplace.
Once you have identified the RISK you should be able to report it quickly.
If you are not able to report the risk in less than a minute, you are not managing it properly.– Pradeep Mishra, Co-Founder AND Director, Aurion Systems
Assess the risk
A hazard’s likelihood of producing harm, illness, or damage to your health is defined as a risk.
Your list of hazards could be lengthy, with some posing greater safety threats than others. As a result, you must determine which threats are more important than others and address them first.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine the risk associated with each hazard:
- What is the potential severity of an injury or illness?
- What is the most serious health concern that the hazard could pose?
- Would it merely necessitate basic first aid? Or will it result in long-term illness or disability? Is it possible that it will be lethal?
How likely is it that the hazard will cause injury to someone?
- Is it possible that it will occur at an inconvenient time?
- Could it happen at any time or would it be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence?
- How often do workers come into contact with the hazard?
You should also evaluate the number of persons who will be affected by the threats, and keep in mind that everyone is different. Because of disparities in physical strength, experience, and training, a danger may offer some people a greater risk than others.
Control Risk & Fix the problem
Always strive to eliminate a hazard completely from your job. If this isn’t possible, you should systematically consider the other options.
Some issues can be resolved quickly and easily, while others will require more effort and planning. Concentrate on the most pressing threats while ignoring the less serious ones that can be remedied quickly.
Some approaches are more successful than others. Check to see if your solution introduces any additional risks.
Hierarchy of controls
To eliminate or limit risk in your workplace, use the hierarchy of controls. It goes from the most effective control approach (total removal of the hazard from your job) to the least effective (wearing personal protective equipment/PPE).
For risk control, you must utilize the highest-ranked control that is practical. Lower-ranked controls should only be employed as a last resort or until a more effective risk control method can be found.
Using more than one control strategy to limit hazard exposure is sometimes the most effective method to do so.
1. Eliminate the hazard
Remove it completely from your workplace. For example, repair damaged equipment; outsource processes involving toxic chemicals or equipment to companies established to manage them safely. If this is not practical, then…
2. Substitute & Isolate the hazard
Replace it with a safer alternative. Use a less harmful chemical, for example, and lift smaller packages. Keep it as far away from workers as possible. Relocating photocopiers to separate, ventilated rooms, for example, or installing barriers to restrict access to dangerous work locations are just a few examples. If this isn’t feasible, then…
3. Use engineering controls
Reduce the danger by adapting tools or equipment. Place protection on dangerous parts of machinery, for example, and move large goods with a trolley. If this isn’t feasible, then…
4. Use administrative controls
Change the way you operate and the way you’re organized. Rotate duties, for example, to limit the amount of time spent on any particular work task; train employees in safe work techniques; and do routine equipment maintenance. If this isn’t feasible, then…
5. Use personal protective equipment (PPE)
Utilize hearing/eye protection, hard helmets, gloves, and masks, for example; instruct employees on how to properly use PPE.
Check to see if the modifications you made were effective once you think you’ve solved the problem. Gather input from people who may be affected by the changes and include them in any changes to their workplace or work routines. Examine your incident logs to check if the number of incidents is decreasing.
Check to see if your solution introduces any additional risks. Perhaps you and your coworkers can think of even more methods to improve. Make a date to re-evaluate the risk. Select a timeline that is appropriate for the task and the level of risk involved. The risk assessment must be revisited if the work process changes or if new equipment is brought to a task.
Employers, managers, contractors, and employees must communicate and collaborate during each of these four processes.
Remember Hazard management is not a one-off event — it’s an ongoing process.
How to start and not stop at the end of this article piece?
We would recommend starting simply by just taking the outlined approach, which has negligible risk, simple and yet an amazingly effective positive step towards our goal of a proactive strategy
A) Take pen-paper or manual method (start now)
Start implementing the recommended strategy using your existing technology resources for your business to find out what works and what doesn’t. Indeed, this causes efforts, but this will pave the way for better clarity around unknown risks.
B) Take help from technology
Work towards making it unattended, assisted by using Super-fast digital solution such that it works autonomously without losing its efficacy by engaging a solid, affordable Business and Technology solution partner.
If you are a CEO/COO/CIO/Managing Director/General Manager who is spending more time in reactive/preventive mode than future-facing, please reach out for an exploratory conversation.
Our Contact details
Pradeep Mishra (Director and Co-founder)
Ashok Mulchandani (Partner – Business Success and Strategic Transformation)
Amit Bhagat (Director – Business Strategy)
Please feel free to leave your suggestions and thoughts in the comment box below!