The trouble is... it doesn't actually tell me anything. What's happening right now? What real risks could I be exposed to? What controls do I need to know about?
There are several trades around, busy going about their tasks as I walk onto the site. Nobody stops me. Nobody inducts me. So, I report to the site box to sign in and check out the "Site Specific Safety Plan" provided by the principal contractor.
The SSSP is where it really starts to unravel, and here's how...
Are you overlooking hazards in your workplace?
The very first step to effectively managing risks in your business is to identify your hazards. Unfortunately, over the years I've seen a LOT of hazards overlooked. That's because without a systematic approach, it can be really easy to miss them!
So here is an easy system you can use to robustly identify hazards in your workplace. It's as simple as choosing a context and asking your workers eleven easy questions.
See below for a printable version of the questions!
The importance of good risk assessment and monitoring of offenders carrying out community work has been highlighted in today’s sentencing of the Corrections Department under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
The department was charged under S15 of the Act (failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of any employee while at work harms any other person) after the victim was crushed on 7 June 2014 by part of a tree that had been previously felled.
In this case, Corrections did not carry out risk assessments when placing offenders with a community organisation, instead they believed the community organisation was set up and resourced to carry out risk assessments and to undertake the associated management actions on Corrections’ behalf.
Chief District Court Judge Jan Marie Doogue has entered a conviction against the Ministry of Social Development on a charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees. Judge Doogue declined an MSD application for discharge without conviction.
The charge was brought by WorkSafe which investigated MSD’s safety systems following the shootings at the WINZ office in Ashburton.
In her judgment she said that ‘deterrence, denunciation and accountability’ are the most important principles to consider in health and safety cases. She noted that had she been able to fine MSD (see ** below), she would have set the fine at $16,000
A workplace fatality involving an exploding bitumen emulsion tank has important lessons for industry according to WorkSafe New Zealand.
On 30 November last year, an employee of Corboy Earthmovers Limited in Te Awamutu was killed when emulsion was being transferred under pressure from a transport tank (an “emulsion pig”) to a heating tank. A blockage in the transfer line caused a build-up of pressure in the emulsion pig.
This caused the rear plate welds to fail, and rear plate swung around and hit the victim.
“The issue here, and what industry needs to be very aware of, is that the emulsion pig was not constructed to take pressure and nor was there an over-pressure safety device fitted to it,” says WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart.
“This company had used pumps to transfer the emulsion up until 2007, and that was a far safer process. When Corboy started using compressed air it did not identify pressure build-up as a risk and it should have used a properly designed and constructed pressure vessel – that would have avoided this tragedy.
“Using pressure to transfer materials between containers has inherent risks which must be identified and managed no matter what the circumstances are, and under no circumstances should containers which are not pressure-rated vessels be used,” Mr Stewart said.
Corboy Earthmovers was charged under S6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee while at work. The charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000 (This incident occurred prior to the introduction this year of the Health and Safety at Work Act.)
The company was ordered to pay reparations of $140,319.80 by the Hamilton District Court today. The Judge considered that an appropriate fine would have been $73,800, but noted that the company is in liquidation so no fine was imposed.
Hamilton City Council has been ordered to pay reparations of $5,180 to each of zookeeper Samantha Kudeweh’s two children. Ms Kudeweh was killed by a tiger while working at Hamilton Zoo last year.
The Council was also ordered to pay fines of $38,250 after pleading guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Ms Kudeweh’s safety.
The Council pleaded guilty on June 9 2016 and was sentenced today at the Hamilton District Court.
A WorkSafe investigation into Ms Kudeweh’s death on September 20 2015 revealed that Hamilton City Council, as the owner and operator of Hamilton Zoo, failed to take a number of practicable steps to ensure the safety of Ms Kudeweh. This included a lack of mechanical and safety features to prevent two gates between the cat chute and the main enclosure being open at the same time, not having a two keeper system in place, or warning signs to indicate that a tiger had not been secured.
WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart says this tragic incident was completely avoidable.
“As an employer, Hamilton City Council had a duty to implement safety systems, administrative and mechanical, to ensure that staff never came into direct contact with the tigers, including in the event that a gate was accidentally left open.
“Working with large carnivores like Sumatran tigers will always come with the highest possible risk – there are no second chances if you come into direct contact with a dangerous animal,” says Mr Stewart.
The importance of training and hazard management while working at height has been highlighted at a Timaru District Court sentencing today.
Timaru company Rickie Shore Building Limited was fined $34,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $16,000 after pleading guilty to one charge under sections 6 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
On 22 October 2015, the victim was installing a flooring system on the second storey of a house in Timaru. The system is a composite steel flooring system made of lightweight, pre-formed steel sheets.
While drilling timber fascia boards to a steel beam, the steel sheets, which the victim was using as a work platform, moved and the victim fell 2.9m onto the concrete floor. He was knocked unconscious, sustained fractures, and suffers fatigue and headaches as a result of his head injury.
The safety culture of your business will directly impact on safety performance.
If you want to protect your business from the many perils of poor safety performance, such as lost productivity, accidents and injuries, prosecution and fines, reputation damage, high staff turn-over, and poor team morale, then working on your safety culture is key...
What is a Safety Culture?
Safety Culture is the way safety is perceived, valued and prioritised in your organisation. It reflects the real commitment to safety at all levels of the business. At the core of a safety culture is what people believe about the importance of safety, including what they think their colleagues, managers and leaders really believe about safety’s priority.
Note that your company's safety culture is not the safety management systems, policies or procedures you have; it goes much deeper than that. Without a positive safety culture, these things become dust-gathering paperwork.
Why is it Important to You?
In short, the safety culture of your business will directly impact on safety performance. A negative (immature) culture is likely to yield poor safety performance, whereas a positive (mature) culture will result in high performance.
What is Safety Culture Maturity?
The safety culture of a company is not static; it changes and evolves. Ideally this change is positive and the culture develops to achieve maturity. Safety professionals around the world have developed various models, matrixes and indexes to illustrate just this.
Maturity is a term commonly used to describe the progressive nature of safety culture. Here is my take on it:
How can I motivate staff to improve their performance?
Research indicates that positive reinforcement is critical to successfully improving safety performance.
Health and Safety policies are commonly built around rules, regulations, and legislation. Consequently, process often focus on enforcement. Although compliance systems have their place in safety procedures, positive reinforcement is a far more effective tool when it comes to motivating people.
A commercial and residential flooring company has been fined $33,125 and ordered to pay reparations totalling $24,482.88 after an employee was left with serious burns in an incident involving the ignition of flammable solvent adhesive while installing vinyl flooring.
Hamilton Flooring Limited pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court.
The family of a Taiwanese tourist who drowned on a recreational SCUBA dive at Hahei in November 2014 will receive $70,000 in reparations.
Waikato diving operator, Cathedral Cove Dive Limited (CCDL) and its director Russell Cochrane had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE) for failing to keep the victim safe. A reserved sentencing decision was released by the Hamilton District Court today. No fine was imposed.
On 4 November 2014, the victim was left to swim unsupervised while wearing scuba equipment selected by Cochrane- she swam out of the enclosed bay where the dive was taking place, exhausted her air supply and was later found hours later floating face down in the water.
The importance of systematic maintenance and proper fault management of machinery in workplaces has been highlighted today at the sentencing of the Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure its employees’ safety.
WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Keith Stewart said after the sentencing that companies using any machinery in their work must ensure the machinery is maintained according to manufacturers’ instructions and must have an effective system in place to identify faults.
“If faults are found, they must be documented, the machine taken out of service for assessment and workers advised of the faults and whether or not the machinery can be used,” he said.
CMP Canterbury Limited (part of the ANZCO Group) has been fined $39,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $68,250 in addition to $12,000 previously paid by the company after a worker was crushed by the door of a stun box.
The company was sentenced today in the Ashburton District Court under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to keep an employee safe at work.
A WorkSafe investigation discovered failures by the company to identify appropriate safety controls for the door.
Business are being urged to regularly check the safety of their electrical systems after Silver Fern Farms Limited was fined $38,500 and ordered to pay $12,500 (of which $10,000 has already been paid by the company) in reparation after a worker suffered serious burns from an exposed live cable.
The incident occurred in June 2015 at the company’s Fairton plant and Sliver Fern Farms was sentenced in the Ashburton District Court today under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.