Managers Mistakes Part 3 - Safety, where do I start?
In previous articles in this series we have looked at some of the mistakes managers of construction companies often make when considering health and safety and how it ought to be implemented. Legislation was looked at and the reality that we actually don't have a choice when comes to creating a safe working environment for our employees has hopefully sunken in. Putting legislation aside, we also looked at how safety can help us save money and how accidents can cost us money. Having been armed with the facts surrounding Occupational Health and Safety you are possibly now saying, "Ok you convinced me, I need to do something but where do I start?"
The core intention of OHS legislation is to ensure that employers provide a safe working environment for their employees, so let us start there. If we have to provide a safe working environment then the question to ask is, "What is there in this working environment that would make it unsafe?"
The important aspect to note in this process is that all findings must be documented because later on you are going to inform employees of the dangers identified. So start by making a list of the activities that are taking place on your construction site like:
- Excavations by hand
- Excavations by TLB
- Pouring concrete
Once we have made a list of the activities that are happening on site we can then take the next step and ask the question, what are the possible things that could happen should we have no systems or controls in place? For example if you have excavations on your site and they are next to a road or driveway it is possible that the excavations may collapse when a vehicle is driving past. We then need to decide who might be harmed and how, like employees working in the excavations, visitors or members of the public walking past. The knowledge that serious injury or a fatality may occur should the excavation collapse has to be in the forefront of our thinking.
With the understanding that it is practically impossible to create an environment that is entirely free from all types of risk, we then need to look at ways to create a safe working environment. Our first step is always to see if we can eliminate the risk, for example, create another entrance to the site that is away from the excavations. Should elimination not be possible which will undoubtedly happen in some cases, we then need to look at diminishing the risk. An example of this could be shoring your excavations or diverting traffic away from the danger area.
Once this process is completed, it is vitally important that you inform your employees of what the findings and risks are. Remember to always document these processes as to prevent misunderstandings and to ensure that you have proof should an accident happen.
Well congratulations, if you have gone through this process you have taken your first step in the right direction towards providing health and safety in the workplace. It is of critical importance though, to take into account that this process is not the only step you need to complete to ensure compliance with health and safety legislation. We would encourage you to contact your local Regional office of the Master Builders Association and speak to your local representative with regards to what the OHS compliancy requirements are.
Health and Safety practices should be habit not a hindrance, if you need help getting there, we are only a phone call away.
Part 1 Managers Mistakes - A Hard Hat is Not Enough
Part 2 Managers Mistakes - Safety Costs too Much Money
Gareth Roberts | Regional Manager