Demystifying Health And Safety

I recently undertook a poll on a small business page. Of the 126 respondents, 70% stated they had no idea what a PCBU is. While I was surprised it was 70%, I can’t say I was shocked. NZ consistently rates as one of the easiest countries in the world to set up a new business. The issue with this is we have a host of business owners who are unfamiliar with their legislated obligations regarding tax law, employment relations and of course health and safety. I am often surprised to meet with owners of established businesses who have little understanding of their obligations under the Act.

While many operators have low risk operations, they shouldn’t be confused with no-risk operations. Unfortunately, there is still very much a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude with many SME’s. As we have seen recently, incidents can happen in an instant and when they do, what you have is what you have (i.e. documented health and safety activity).

The HSWA is very clear, as a business owner it’s your responsibility to know the risks which might be present and how to manage those risks, so they don’t cause harm.  Not having an active safety system in place leaves businesses vulnerable. Guests or workers are more likely to have an incident which leads to lost time injuries, which are particularly difficult to manage in the current employment environment. You are more likely to damage your reputation, and of course there is the possibility of fines, many of which have been quite substantial recently.

I meet many small business owners who genuinely want to do better but are frustrated, overwhelmed and confused by health and safety. They have often had poor experiences investing in health and safety templates thinking this would be an easy fix and find themselves just as confused as when they started.

 If this sounds like you, follow us on LinkedIn as we post a series of articles over the next six weeks to demystify the Health and Safety at Work Act. Topics we’ll be discussing include:

  • Setting the benchmark– What should health and safety look like in your operation. The HSWA requires you to do what an Officer of another PCBU would reasonably do. We’ll discuss resources you can utilise to ensure you are keeping up to speed.
  • How to identify risks in your operation. We discuss the four origins of risk and simple risk analysis techniques you can implement.
  • Using contractors: Many small business owners are under the impression that using contractors discharges them from their responsibilities under the Act, and that’s not the case. We’ll clarify your obligations and how to demonstrate collaboration with other PCBU’s
  •  Emergency Management Procedures. Even with great planning, things can still go wrong, And of course mother nature does what she likes which also presents challenges. We discuss foreseeable events and what you can do to prepare for them.
  • Investigating incidents. When things do go wrong, we need to learn from them. We’ll discuss how to identify causal factors, root causes and how to mitigate risks from reoccurring.
  • Capturing your health and safety evidence. There are some great Apps and software available these days, however, sometimes paper-based systems work better. It’s all about providing the right tools for your team. We’ll discuss how to implement a system which will get your team engaged in our safety system.

This weeks tip: Define your workplace. The workplace is regarded as anywhere work is undertaken. If workers are required to drive for work, then is part of their workplace. This could include sales reps making sales calls, workers going to meetings, or perhaps the maintenance team collecting supplied or equipment. If you have workers who drive for work, you should have a safe driving policy in place. Last year 38% of Australia’s workplace fatalities occurred on the road!

If you’re frustrated, overwhelmed, want to get started, or want to check you are on the right track, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do to help you sleep easier!