Workplace Health and Safety – Involve the Team
If you have read our last two installments you will have noticed that we are focused on involving all the relevant stakeholders (usually staff but not always limited to just staff) to gain perspective, input and assist in understanding the hazards & risks in the workplace as well as coming up with the best solutions.
Why is this so important?
There are many good reasons including the legislative requirements to consult but let’s look at the nuts and bolts of actually making the workplace safer, those that do it, know it! If you take the small amount of time it takes to speak with the people who are actually doing the work, they will tell you where there are problems, what needs improvement and also the knock on effects which often filter through to inefficiencies and frustration for those undertaking the work.
Undertaking this approach will allow you to lower your overall risk profile (more about this in the coming months), prepare you for an inspector visit and gain more ‚ ≤buy in’ from those involved.
So, have you had a chance to list the risks associated with the hazards identified the previous month? If you have, it’s now time to look at the ideas that have been raised, assess them and also look at any unintended consequences of implementing those strategies.
Step 1– Look at the changes to work processes, the work environment, finances, productivity and any other areas specific to your operations that may be impacted by these new strategies. It may be that utilising a new variable height trolley for a co-worker works very well for minimising manual handling injuries but that the trolley itself becomes a hazard because no-one has thought about where to store it when it is not in use. The simple process of looking at the new addition from introduction, through the work process and storage requirements after it has been used goes a long way to maximising the ongoing benefits of providing a safer method for completing a task.
Step 2– Think & consult broadly. People will usually have an opinion on something that changes their work area or is new to your operations.
On a recent initial site inspection we came across some staff ‚ ≤unrest’ because a few months earlier one part of the business (say abc) had purchased ergonomic mice for staff that were spending large amounts of time on the computer but not for the staff in another area (who use their mice a lot less, let’s call them xyz). In this case, the excellent initiative of using superior ergonomic mice was partially undermined because an element of ‚ ≤them & us’ crept into the mindset of some team members in abc. All that had to happen in this case was to discuss the initiative and explain the reason behind the purchase, ie that ergonomic mice were considered necessary due to the amount of time the mice were being used in xyz, not just because xyz area were more highly thought of or valued more by management.
Step 3- That’s for next month!!
PS: Ergonomic mice are fantastic for lowering fatigue and strain related injuries. If you don’t already use one, give it a try, you won’t go back.