Improving incident management practices isn’t always easy. Although it is of high importance, often staff members don’t want to spend time learning about incident management. Let’s face it – it’s pretty boring for them. However, in the event of an incident or emergency, they need to know exactly what to do.
As a manager who oversees people it’s important to have a grasp on incident management best practices. This way, you can spread knowledge within your team and ensure that you are always complying with your legal and moral duties.
We’re rounding up some of the incident management best practices that every business should be aware of.
What is incident management?
Incident management refers to how a company or team responds to an incident. An incident could mean a variety of different things to different businesses, but what is important is that each business has clearly defined understanding of possible incidents and has clear instructions on how to manage them.
Without incident management practices in place, businesses can be liable in the event of an incident. Incident management helps to mitigate the disruption caused by an incident and reduce harm when an incident occurs. It allows businesses to continue business as usual whilst also maintaining their obligations to their employees and the public.
The stages of incident management can be defined in simple terms as identifying, analysing, reporting, correcting and managing hazards. The goal of incident management is to effectively report incidents and ensure that the risk of a potential incident is minimised in the future.
Why do businesses need incident management practices?
Businesses need incident management in order to protect their reputation, their employees and comply with their legal obligations. The WHS Act requires that employers notify the regulator of certain types of workplace incidents depending on how serious they are.
This measure is in place to protect employees and businesses from putting a foot wrong, and to ensure that every safety incident at work is fully reported. Depending on how serious the incident, a business may be required to preserve the incident site. However, this will be relayed to the business via the regulator once they report an incident.
The important thing to remember from a businesses’ point of view is to ensure that all relevant staff understand the incident reporting guidelines and are able to carry them out on behalf of your business. This is where cloud-based workplace training and incident management reporting systems are extremely beneficial.
Incident Management best practices
Train staff to report incidents as first responders
This tip relies upon training having already been completed before the point of an incident. In short, the first responder needs to have already had sufficient training in how to respond to an incident.
A comprehensive ‘first responder’ E-Form on an online incident reporting system can help with this, and urge the first responder to take the right steps. With Beakon, all incidents that are reported will work through a built-in Risk Matrix and prompting questions to assess the incident effectively. Prior to the incident happening, it is essential that the first responder has already been briefed on the process of incident reporting.
Investigate the incident
It is best practice to investigate any incident that occurs in your workplace. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the incident has to be reported to a higher body, but it means that your business needs to report and investigate all incidents internally.
It is key that you assign mandatory investigations based on risk level, looking at things like why the incident occured, the root cause and Contributing Factor Analysis. It is also important that you review investigations for quality and accuracy before being released for action.
Analyse the incident and report to a regulator if necessary
In some cases the incident report will need to be escalated. In order to do this properly, you will need to analyse the incident and assess its seriousness and risk level.
An incident management platform means you will be reminded to escalate the incident report automatically based on your business rules. The complex administration of compliance can be tricky to master, but with a platform that embeds your Health & Safety framework, business rules, and industry and legislative requirements within it, you can rest assured that you are protected.
Record corrective actions
After an incident occurs, a company is required to take corrective actions to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. In order to do this, you may want to invest in a digital platform that allows you to create an online paper trace that can’t go missing. Providing corrective actions and showing how you are minimising risk is an essential part of compliance, and a best practice that should not be forgotten about.
Create a return to work program
When someone has been involved in an incident, it is a requirement that you support them in their return to work. Incidents involving an injury will mean that the individual will likely need time off, and may have special requirements when they return.
It is best practice to ensure that the returning employee’s needs are met, and that regular meetings are hosted to see how they are getting on.
Incident Management software that helps keep your business compliant
Incident management software helps to keep your business compliant and ensure that employees are protected. It is not simply about reporting an incident. A business must also be aware of the incident management that needs to occur in order to continually evolve and minimise incidents.
At present, we’re offering a free trial so that you can see how incident management works with Beakon software. Sign up now!
It can be easy for companies to think that health and safety legislation, or OHS as it’s also known, isn’t relevant to them. However, Occupational Health and Safety needs to be a top priority for all Australian companies of any size. Whether you work with 2 people or 200 people, ensuring that they are safe and well cared for on the job is an ethical, moral and legal responsibility.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to provide to your people. This means that things like reporting incidents, reducing workers risks and ensuring that adequate safety training is undertaken is essential as a legal requirement.
To help you understand what OHS entails, we’re looking at the key aspects of health and safety legislation that you need to know about.
Duty of Care
A business has a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of those at the business is not compromised. This means that no employee, contractor or visitor should be put at risk as a result of the activities of the business. As you can imagine, in high risk sectors this can be hard, however it is essential that employers are consistently assessing the work environment to minimise risk and abide by their duty of care to individuals.
Under duty of care there are regulations that ensure it is fair for both employers and employees. Ensuring health and safety in terms of the duty of care means eliminating risks as is “reasonably practical”. Duty of care means that employers need to be duly aware of risks and be seeking to minimise them. For more information on the obligations associated with each risk type, you can head to the WHS regulations to understand how you can comply with your duty of care.
Working with other duty of care holders
As someone who holds a position of responsibility within a company in terms of OHS, it is essential that you consult and coordinate with other duty holders. WHS regulations dictate that more than one person can have the same duty and therefore they will need to consult one another to ensure that they retain that duty and manage it effectively together.
So far as is reasonably practical, duty holders must “consult, cooperate and coordinate” with another business over the safety of a worker. This continues up until the point that there are limits on their influence or control of the situation.
Consulting with workers
The WHS act dictates that where practical, employees must consult workers on health and safety risks as they arise. This consultation process should take into account their thoughts and feelings on the matter as well as sharing vital information that will keep them safe.
This rule goes not only for direct employees but also contractors and labour hire employees too. A Learning Management System can provide an effective way to communicate with employees and contractors regarding health and safety.
Due diligence features in the Work Health and Safety Regulation in order to ensure that individuals keep up a company’s end of the bargain when it comes to health and safety.
While a company may have duties and responsibilities overall, there are also obligations that individuals must abide by in order to be compliant with “due diligence”. This part of the WHS ensures that individuals must do everything in their power, where reasonably possible to ensure that health and safety regulations are upheld. If individuals do not show “due diligence” then they may be personally responsible.
Safety And Compliance Software That Keeps You On Track
With safety regulations that must be respected and legal requirements that must be met, it is essential that businesses find the right systems to maintain compliance. These software systems could include learning management systems, incident reporting systems and safety management software.
With compliance software, companies find it much easier to stay on track with the health and safety legislation that must be met. Plus, with a digital trace, companies are able to protect themselves and better understand how their people are tracking in terms of health and safety. If you think your company could benefit from better health and safety management, why not contact Beakon to sign up for a free trial?
One of the questions we are so often asked about health and safety software, is whether it will save the business money.
On the surface, it can look like health and safety software is an added cost as opposed to something that could save your business money. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Health and safety software can save your businesses huge amounts in insurance, injury claims and compliance costs, which can not only hurt your business financially but in terms of reputation damage too. Discover why health and safety software can be one of the best ways to save money, and ensure that you have the best practices in place as your business grows.
Here’s some of the ways health and safety software will help you save money:
Improve how your business responds
One of the main costs associated with health and safety that set people back are the response times and how the business responds to an incident.
These are the areas where mistakes can be made, incidents can be left unreported and ultimately the business can be liable. A significant amount of time and money can be saved by implementing more effective safety management and incident reporting systems that help you stay on top of everything that is going on within your business.
Your business could save money with these systems by improving the response time, minimising clean up, encouraging a faster return to normal productivity and preventing the need to replace damaged equipment.
Safety systems that help you set out how employees and contractors should respond to an incident can significantly improve emergency response time, which in turn saves money.
One of the main ways that businesses lose money when it comes to health and safety is when they don’t comply with rules and regulations and end up being fined.
Compliance is crucial to reducing fines and ensuring that things are done the right way on your site or project. With health and safety software in place employees are aware of the guidelines and have an easy to read guide on hand on their mobile or tablet. This helps to minimise error on the businesses behalf and means that your teams can identify and communicate with the right person when unsure of what to do.
In this regard, the compliance goal becomes much easier to achieve and maintain, which reduces the likelihood of any penalties that can add up in the long run.
Reduce costs associated with accidents and incidents
The cost of having an incident occur on your site can be shockingly high. Correcting mistakes, paying fines, or paying out to compensate staff who are injured on your site can make a huge dent in your profits and in some extreme cases even put you out of business.
Having safety management software in place helps to reduce costs associated with accidents in two ways:
Reduces the likelihood of the accidents
The best way to avoid having to pay out for accidents is to avoid having them in the first place. Health and safety software helps your business do just that by ensuring that measures are in place to reduce the risk of an incident.
Ensures you are doing everything correct if something does happen
Sometimes accidents are just unavoidable, and in these moments health and safety ensures that you are covered and have done everything you can do reduce them and report them if they do happen.
Save on reputation costs with health and safety software
The immediate costs of an incident on your site are obvious – compensation costs, costs of temporary workers, sick leave costs, insurance premiums – the list goes on.
However, some of the costs that are caused by an incident are hidden. Included in these costs are things like reputation damage and team morale that can cause issues.
If your company reputation is damaged you may find it hard to generate new business, or keep your clients if they don’t trust that your business is operating safely. This is especially true in a small business scenario, where many clients may know each other, or your story may feature in the local news.
Your reputation both internally and externally can have a huge effect on your profits. People need to trust your organisation both from within and without in order for you to continue doing good business, and a health and safety system helps solidify that.
Reduce Insurance Costs when you have health and safety software
Another important and often overlooked cost-saving of health and safety systems can be lower insurance premiums.
When a business is able to show that they are compliant and have measures in place to reduce incidents, they will often see a drop in their insurance premiums.
Plus, you will also benefit from a lower rate of injuries and incidents on your site, which will help you in lowering your premium. In having less incidents, and dealing with them correctly when they do happen so that perhaps you don’t have to claim as frequently will ensure that your risk is lower.
This often results in cost savings through lower insurance premiums.
Contractor management software: Why does your business need it?
Contractor management software is an integral part of managing any company that interacts with contractors. Whatever your business does, if you work with contractors, using a contractor management system will enable you to get a handle on those operations.
Whatever contractors you use – from plumbers, to carpenters, to paving experts – you’ll be able to keep on top of their work a lot more effectively with proper software.
The advantages of contractor management software
Contractor management software has many advantages, as it consolidates all contractor data into one system. This helps to protect your business and keep contractors compliant, as well as allowing you to automate processes and ensure that all contractors across your company are adhering to the same rules and regulations.
With contractor management systems, your business will be able to access a range of new tools that will keep your contractors on track and make the management of their projects safer, more enjoyable, and more productive too.
Here’s why your company needs contractor management software…
1. Onboard your contractors effectively
When you start working with contractors you need to be able to onboard them quickly and effectively so that they can start work safely. Contractor management solutions allow you to onboard contractors and communicate with them to perform automated activities.
This significantly cuts down the admin time, and means that your Facilities Management team only needs to press a button and then chase the contractors for their information. This information then gets held in one complete database which is safer and more compliant than paper based methods.
2. Engage contractors in the contractor management system
One of the main benefits of a contractor management system is that you can engage contractors in the process and provide them with resources and training to help them understand the software.
A robust contractor management system will include training and onboarding contractors on all aspects of the software and program, including registering and uploading contractor company information (insurance, W9 information, etc.), checking in/out using our GPS check in/Out or IVR telephone system, submitting electronic proposals and invoices, and adhering to all of your organization’s specific procedures.
3. Avoid costly mistakes with contractor records
Contractor management software keeps track of contractors details so that you know who is qualified and insured to do each role. This helps businesses avoid costly mistakes, and also keeps everyone safe on the job.
It helps you remain compliant as a business by validating that contractors have the correct and up to date insurance and licenses.
4. Improve the productivity of your team
Contractor management solutions help to save time and streamline the process of contractor management. Your facilities management team will have a lot more time on their hands once the basic paperwork is taken care of by automated systems, and they are able to use data and insights from their management system to pick the best contractors for each job.
With a solid database of compliant contractors on hand, your team will be a lot more productive.
Any dangerous incidents, fatalities, injuries or illnesses in the workplace can be of serious detriment to your business. The health and safety of workers needs to be protected as a priority, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the law. As a business owner it is important to know what to do if someone is injured.
Get familiar with OSHA and what constitutes a reportable injury in our handy article…
What is OSHA?
OSHA stands for Occupational Health Services Australia, a large regulatory agency that governs safety procedures in Australia. Employers in higher-risk industries and those with employees are obliged to abide by OSHA recordkeeping requirements. The OSH Act places certain duties on employers, employees and self-employed people in order to protect the health of safety of everyone.
There is often a level of confusion around these requirements, particularly when discussing OSHArecordable vs reportable events. This is partly due to the fact that not all recordable events are reportable.
What should and shouldn’t be reported as part of OSHA?
In order to clarify these murky waters, here’s a brief overview of OSHA record-keeping requirements, with regards to recordable vs reportable events.
Work related deaths and certain types of injuries must be reported to WorkSafe as a legal requirement. Reportable injuries need to be reported to SafeWork via an online form or phone call immediately following a major incident.
“OSHA record keeping requirements define a reportable injury or illness as any of the following:
a fracture of the skull, spine or pelvis;
a fracture of any bone in the arm (other than in the wrists or hand) or in the leg (other than a bone in the ankle or foot);
an amputation of an arm, a hand, finger, finger joint, leg, foot, toe or toe joint;
the loss of sight of an eye; and
any injury other than the above which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within 10 days of the day on which the injury occurred.”
“Types of diseases that must be reported are:
infectious diseases: tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, Legionnaires’ disease and HIV, where these diseases are contracted during work involving exposure to human blood products, body secretions, excretions or other material which may be a source of infection; and
occupational zoonoses: Q fever, anthrax, leptospirosis and brucellosis, where these diseases are contracted during work involving the handling of, or contact with, animals, animal hides, skins, wool, hair, carcasses or animal waste products”.
Written notification must be submitted within 48 hours if requested by the regulator.
The incident site is preserved until an inspector arrives or directs otherwise. However this doesn’t prevent any action to help an injured person or make the site safe”.
What Are Recordable Events?
Any incident in the workplace should be recorded, however not all incidents or injuries need to be reported to OSHA.
There is some overlap between recordable vs reportable events, as a company should keep a record of all injuries at work. If OSHA requirements define a work-related health incident as reportable, it is also recordable. However, recordable events can constitute any injury, even those only requiring first aid.
Whose responsibility is it?
Ultimately, it is the business owner who is responsible for record-keeping. But it is essential that the unit manager/authority on site knows what to do and how to report the incident upwards.
Employers must keep their incident records for a minimum of five years. Also, between February and April, they are required to post summaries of injuries from the previous year. Moreover, if requested to do so, an employer must provide copies of injury/illness summaries to current and former employees.
How can incidents be reported?
It can be difficult to comply with OSHA record-keeping requirements. Especially in the chaotic environment surrounding a serious injury or fatality, paperwork is often the last thing on your mind. All attention is given to the employees and their families. And with the less extreme cases, paperwork can easily be put off and forgotten, or left long enough for any accurate recording to be done.
Thankfully, Beakon’sIncident Management software can provide an essential solution. Developed in partnership with leading multinational organisations, Beakon’s system can be configured to report, investigate, analyse and proactively action issues across all work disciplines. These include fields in safety, environment, quality assurance, product quality and business management.
When it comes to occupational health and safety management, there can be no room for error. That’s why when you pick a safety management software it’s important that it’s the right fit for your business.
With the right safety management software your business will be able to safely manage risk, remain compliant and have time to focus on the other important elements of running your business.
To help you decide which safety management software to choose, here’s the things to look for in OHS software:
What Does OHS Software Need To Have?
Ensure that your OHS software can be customised
Every business is different, and therefore each safety management solution should be slightly different. Ensure that you can customise the software, as well as checking that the following essentials will be covered on the platform:
Job safety assessments
Training and inductions
Look for a data checking function
An effective OHS system will be able to sift through your data and ensure its accuracy. Doing this manually can be very time consuming and not entirely accurate, so working with software that can check your data and automatically validate your records is essential.
This kind of data management aspect of safety management software also ensures that you remain compliant and are working in line with GDPR. Holding outdated records, or those records that have not been consented to can have serious consequences.
The benefits of investing in mobile software over desktop or paper-based systems are vast, but in general mobile software is safer, it allows open communication and real-time insights, and also allows remote working, which in the current climate is more important than ever.
Look for occupational health and safety management software that has been recommended and has customer success stories attached to it.
Some of the important things to look for are:
Do you know anyone who has used it or recommends it?
Does the company have experience of working with businesses of all sizes across a wide range of industries?
Do you trust the customer service? What do reviews say about it?
Has the company received any industry awards for its customer service or products?
Being cost-effective is one of the most important aspects of choosing an OHS software system. You have to ensure that you are spending on a platform that can give you all that you need, at a cost that is reasonable. However, that doesn’t always mean you should opt for the cheapest option, it is about value for money over the cheapest solution.
You may also like to think about the cost savings you could make vs the outgoing cost. Remember also that not having an effective OHS system in place will cost reputation damage as well as financial.
Look for the option of scalability within your OHS software system as the requirements of your business might change over a period of time. Many businesses are now choosing cloud-based safety management software solutions so that their software can grow and evolve as the business does. Cloud-based software is highly scalable and can keep up with your business needs as you grow.
Are You Looking For A Safety Management Solution?
Beakon’s fully customisable Safety Management software offers a digital solution to safety management.
Are you thinking about investing in safety and compliance software, but you’re worried that you’re too small to invest heavily in your operations? If that’s your thought process, think again.
There’s no perfect company size when it comes to when you should invest in safety and compliance software, since investing early will make it easier for you to scale up in a compliant manner when the time is right. That being said, you also need to ensure that you’re in the right position to utilise the software to its full capacity, which is what we’re running through in this article.
We’re taking a look at the best size a business should be to utilise safety and compliance software, to help you figure out if it’s time to take the leap and invest in compliance software.
Should your company be thinking about safety and compliance?
Short answer, yes. Every company is required to engage lawfully when it comes to health and safety, so whether you’re a massive multi-million dollar company, or a small enterprise, you need to think about the health and safety or your people and your products.
That said, if you’re a smaller company with fewer employees and smaller business operations, often managing health and safety can be easier. This is where the debate around how big your business needs to be to invest in compliance software comes in.
What is compliance software?
Compliance software can cover everything from risk management to incident management and many other software services in between. Compliance software is there to help you abide by the law and keep your people and your company safe as you operate day to day.
Compliance software helps you stay on top of your duties as a business, as well as keep a record of events. Compliance software helps you create ‘repeatable and reliable’ documents that can be used throughout the business and streamlined onto one singular easy-to-use platform.
Instead of using paper-based systems that can cause all kinds of problems, safety and compliance software manages the complex administration of compliance in order to embed your health and safety framework and rules with legislative requirements to ensure that your business is protected.
How big does your business need to be to use compliance software?
We work with huge businesses from Coca-Cola Amatil to DHL, all the way down to smaller businesses who run construction sites and need assistance with remaining safe and compliant.
You don’t have to be a big business to start reaping the rewards of safety and compliance software. In fact, starting the process when you have less going on and less paperwork to manage can sometimes be better.
Getting into good habits and forming a data record that stretches back and is all located in one place, means that as your business grows you needn’t worry about the boring (but crucial!) aspects of business like safety and compliance.
Plus, investing in quality software isn’t just about abiding by the law. There is a good chance that your business could benefit financially from reduced risk and increased revenue that using compliance software often brings. In streamlining your processes you open up employee time and incentivise good practice – all habits that will be very helpful as you grow.
Want to learn more about compliance and safety software?
Is your business ready to try safety and compliance software? The Beakon solution is an interconnected software system that has over 50 compliance, risk and safety modules.
Get in touch today to learn more about how we operate, and how we could help your business with safety and compliance!
Safety management in the workplace is an important part of running a business, from both a compliance standpoint and a general business operation point of view. Without safety in the workplace, it can be impossible to run your business smoothly and can cost time and money.
Workplace incidents can be disastrous for the safety of your people, your business reputation and your bottom line. Ultimately, having safety under control is an essential part of business and should be a priority for your organisation, no matter what industry you work in.
We’re running through the main questions that you might have about safety management, so that you can have the best chance of success when it comes to safety in the workplace.
What is safety management?
Workplace safety is the collective responsibility of your team members and your managers, and effective safety management helps to keep everything under control. However, without this management to create a plan of attack and delegation of responsibility, your business will struggle to handle workplace safety properly.
Your safety plan might cover anything from hazards, to injury reporting, risk assessments and action management. Essentially, it is putting the procedures and guidelines in place to manage any business risk when it strikes.
Why is health and safety so important?
Effective health and safety is in place to ensure that your people and processes are up to scratch in order to keep business activities safe. Putting a framework in place to ensure that risks are minimised is essential to ensure that safety remains a priority.
Evolving legal policies mean that businesses are being forced to take action to remain compliant, and safety management is a key way that businesses can demonstrate that they are making a concentrated effort.
Why is a safety management system so important?
A safety system offers a structure and format to help businesses manage their accountabilities, policies and procedures to keep safety at the forefront of your business processes, no matter what size your business is.
From a compliance point of view, safety management systems are able to alert your team to any risks or dangers and ensure that your business is acting in accordance with the law. Safety management systems might include management of things like safety policies, safety accountabilities, emergency response planning, hazard identification, risk assessment and much more.
Safety management software should feature a clear, simple, and user-friendly interface that allows you to open workflows and keep up to date with what is going on within your business. With automated reminders and dashboard reports that help you stay on top of workplace safety, safety management systems often become the backbone of any workplace safety initiative.
What are the benefits of the Beakon Software?
Our safety management software helps you understand the cause of incidents, associated costs, and gives you the tools to reduce the chance of a repeat incident.
Our management system enables employees and contractors alike to take charge of their incident reporting and classify any incidents across the whole business, reducing stress and increasing accuracy of reporting.
Without an effective safety plan, your business could be risking reputation and staff welfare. Contact Beakon today and find out how Safety Management software can help protect your business.
Are you unsure where to start with yourwork health and safety (WHS) obligations? If so, you’ve come to the perfect place!
In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to measure and evaluate any Work Health and Safety Management system. We’ll walk you through the exact steps you need to take in order to measure the effectiveness of your current work health and safety provisions. We’ll then explain exactly what you need to do to evaluate them and plan your next steps.
Our 3-step Work Health and Safety (WHS) compliance check is suitable for all Australian businesses regardless of their organizational structure, size or industry.
So if you’re looking to measure evaluate your organisation’s WHS management system, clear your schedule, grab a coffee and let’s get going!
Step 1: General evaluation
The first step of measuring and evaluating your existing WHS management system is conduction a general evaluation. This step will help you get a general feel for your existing WHS provision and give you some indication about the improvements and changes you may like to make in the future.
This initial step is best thought of as a safety self-audit. It won’t give you a full picture of the actual state of your organization’s WHS compliance but it will offer a preliminary indication of where your organization stands. For a complete picture, we recommend you conduct a full WHS compliance audit.
Why take a safety self-audit?
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to measuring and evaluating a WHS management system, the logical first step is taking a safety self-audit. This gives you a snapshot of where your organization is, where potential weaknesses lie and some suggestions for what you can do to improve your WHS provisions.
How to conduct a general evaluation
If you’re ready to conduct a general evaluation, the first question to ask yourself is, “Do I already have a WHS management system in place?”
Your answer may be ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Maybe.
If you’re unsure, do you have any system in place that helps you manage your organisation’s WHS compliance? It could be a paper Safety Statement or any type of document that helps you measure risk and safeguard your staff.
The second question to ask yourself is, “What type of system is my organisation using?”
The possible answers you may come up with are ‘Paper-based’, ‘Software-based’ or a ‘Combination/Hybrid solution of both paper-based and software-based solutions’.
If your organization is predominantly working from a safety statement and uses paper forms such as incident reports and risk management forms, then you’re likely using a paper-based system. If you have a mixture of physical forms and electronic files, you’re likely in the third category. If you are entirely software-based, you’ll likely have a dedicated WHS management program in place that helps your organisation manage risks and plan ahead.
That’s it! Step 1 is complete. You should now have some understanding of where your company is at in terms of its WHS management provisions. Let’s move to the second step…
Step 2 – Documentation evaluation
In this second step, you’ll be looking at what documentation your company or organisation has in place. While this won’t give you a full or complete picture like a full WHS management audit would, it will indicate where potential deficiencies are and offer clues about how you can address them.
In this second step of the process, the first question you’ll ask yourself is, ‘Does your company have a signed, up to date Work Health and Safety Management Plan?
The possible answers are ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘Unsure’.
If you’re unsure, consider whether you have an Occupational Health and Safety management plan (OHS) instead. There is some overlap between WHS and OHS plans so it may be that you are covering some of your bases but just labelling the document differently.
The second question to ask in this self-audit is, ‘Does your staff have access to safety documentation at work?’ By safety documentation, we are including policies, procedures, SWMS and other WHS-related documents.
The possible answers to this question include:
Access to paper copies
Access to digital copies
No access, or unsure
It’s common for smaller businesses to give their staff physical paper copies of their WHS documents. This helps them understand how to perform basic duties such as completing a risk management form, filing a safety audit and reporting risks.
Larger companies will commonly share these documents digitally as they are dealing with larger numbers of staff and possibly have their workers split across various physical locations, possibly even across different countries.
If you answered “no access”, or “unsure”, this is one possible area where you may like to make improvements.
The third documentation evaluation question to ask is, ‘How are records of staff, inductions and training managed?’ As with the previous questions, your answers will be limited to paper-based, software-based or having no records. However, you’ll also have the possibility of the records being spreadsheet-based. This is quite common for smaller businesses that take a largely paper-based approach but then record the results electronically on a spreadsheet.
The next question to ask yourself is, ‘How are risk assessments performed?’
The options will be:
This gives you an understanding of how efficiently your organisation is dealing with risks and how attuned your workers are to noticing and attending to these risks.
To get a sense of how well your organisation’s WHS management system is functioning, you should carefully consider this question: “How are incidents reported to management?” Your options will be either verbally, paper-based (i.e. completing incident reports), spreadsheets (using data from written records), software-based, or (hopefully not) not reported.
The answers to these questions will help you understand where you stand as a company and how effectively you are empowering your employees to report and respond to incidents.
The same goes for the last question in this step: “How are worksite inspections performed and recorded?” The options will be the same as above – either paper-based, spreadsheets, software-based, or not done.
That’s it’s! The second stage is now complete and hopefully, you’re building a clearer picture of how your WHS management system is performing and where potential improvements can be made.
How to analyse your answers
To help you interpret and measure the results you’ve been getting, here’s a brief guide:
If you’ve been answering mostly “Not done” or “unsure”, this indicates that your organization’s WHS management system is deficient in key areas. To ensure legal compliance, you’ll want to investigate ways that you can help your business meet it’s WHS obligations.
If you’ve been answering mostly “Paper-based” or “Spreadsheets” to the above questions, you’ll have to evaluate whether you want to ditch the paper and move towards a more modern software-based approach to WHS management systems. Starting to use a program or WHS app could help your organization improve its current provisions and streamline their processes.
Lastly, if most of your answers have been “Software-based”, you may want to look around at the latest range of WHS management systems offerings. Is there room for improvement? Could you save money and improve your WHS provisions by moving from a software-based approach to a system that uses the cloud? This would help keep your employees aware of their WHS obligations and help everyone stay more connected with the cloud as everything is updated in real-time.
Step 3: Worksite evaluation
We’re finally on to the third and final stage of your WHS management system self-audit. Here, you’re going to be looking at conditions on your worksite and asking whether you can maintain or improve your current situation and if so, with what.
The first question you’ll want to as is, looking around your worksite, “Are each of the following conditions suitable?” The conditions are lighting, noise levels, humidity, temperature, and ventilation. This is a simple check-box assessment – if an area seems suitable, tick it and move on. Any boxes left without a check mark clearly invite further attention. You can ask yourself why these areas aren’t suitable and what can be done to improve them.
The next question to consider is this: “Is there adequate space for members of staff to perform their required tasks?” This is a simple yes or no question. If you’re unsure, ask your staff! A simple questionnaire or informal meeting will give you all the answers you need! If your staff members are generally satisfied with space, move on. If they aren’t, get more details. What’s wrong? How much space do they require? Is it feasible?
Okay – three more questions, but they’re all pretty serious! The next question is about electrical equipment. Ask yourself, “Is all electrical equipment tested and tagged within the required intervals?” This is a simple Yes/No question but the answers are critically important. If yes, that’s all good and well, but if no, why not? This shows a serious lack of attention to detail in your business’ WHS management system – how are such glaring errors going unchecked or unnoticed? This indicates a CLEAR area for improvement!
Next, look at vehicles and machinery on your worksite. (If you don’t have any, move on to the final question) Ask yourself, “How are pre-start checklists/inspections performed?” Is it paper-based, software-based, spreadsheets? Or a hybrid solution?
If they are mostly spreadsheet-based, you’ll want to look at the main ways that you can improve. Would moving to a software-based solution give your staff greater access to data and a higher compliance rate?
Lastly, if hazardous chemicals are used on your worksite, here’s the final question to ask: “Does your chemical register have all of the following in place?”
Registers that include product names, manufacturer and stored quantities.
A cursory glance down this checklist will tell you whether your WHS management system is fit for purpose in terms of storing hazardous chemicals. If there are worrying gaps in your management of chemicals, this indicates that your WHS management system could be improved to help you meet your legal obligations.
How to analyse your answers
Bear in mind that we always recommend that a full WHS compliance audit is carried out to give you a complete picture of your WHS management system. However, this limited self-audit can offer some revealing answers. You can see whether gaps exist in your current provisions and this can help you decide on your next course of action.
If you are answering several of the step-3 questions with “Unsure” or “No” – this shows that a more comprehensive approach to WHS management may be required. If you are completing your requirements but with a paper-based approach, you may like to consider how the latest WHS management software options could help you streamline your business’ WHS requirements and policies.
Lastly, if you are already using a software-based approach, you may like to think about how moving your WHS work to the cloud results in a more streamlined and efficient setup.
WHS management doesn’t need to be complex but hopefully, this brief 3-step process for self-auditing your WHS compliance has given you a preliminary indication of the possible state of your organization’s WHS compliance. While this indication lacks the depth of a full WHS compliance audit (as it doesn’t involve a physical audit) it can help you build a picture of where you’re at, which areas you’re lack and what steps you can take to improve your WHS management provisions today.
If you’re still unsure where to start with your WHS management, give us a call!
Are you considering whether your organization needs an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system? If so, you’ll likely know that there are many different options available to you. In this article, we’ll look at what OHS management systems are, and offer examples and key elements of various systems to help you understand more about your options.
In this article, we’ll be discussing things like:
What is an OHS management system?
Examples of OHS management systems
Examples of OHS management systems for small businesses
Examples of OHS management systems for medium and large businesses
Key elements of OHS management systems
Key elements of software OHS management systems
1. What is an OHS management system?
OHS is an acronym for Occupational Health and Safety. An OHS management system is part of an organization’s management system and covers the following areas:
The occupational health and safety organization in a company
The health and safety policy in a company
The planning process for accident and illness prevention
The line management responsibilities for health and safety procedures
The practices, resources, and procedures for developing and implementing the occupational health and safety policy
The ongoing practices for maintaining and reviewing the health and safety policy
The system should cover an organization’s occupational health and safety organization in its entirety. This includes everything from planning OHS-related tasks, to developing strategies and procedures, as well as analysing data and keeping abreast of any changes and updates.
2. Examples of OHS management systems
OHS management systems come in all shapes and sizes and can take a variety of formats. The most common options include:
Paper-based OHS management systems
Traditional OHS management systems use handwritten or printed documents that are filed and stored. Some documents may be typed on MS Word or Excel and then printed for safekeeping. For example many small businesses create a written document called a Safety Statement. This specifies how the business will manage OHS issues and stipulates the risk assessments and control measures needed to minimize risk in the workplace.
Electronic OHS management systems
Electronic OHS management systems can be developed in-house or purchased from third-parties. They are used to store and manage files electronically and provide a user interface for staff members to find, navigate and manage the files. Many smaller organizations purchase software from a third-party while larger businesses develop their own software in-house to better develop, store and manage their OHS system.
Cloud-based OHS management system
Cloud-based OHS management systems are provided by a third party and involve storing OHS-related documents on off-site servers belonging to the provider.
Hybrid OHS management system
Many organizations use a combination of one or more of the above approaches and incorporate paper-based, online, offline, and cloud-based solutions to satisfy their OHS management needs.
3. Examples of OHS management systems for small businesses
Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in Australia and many of the challenges they face are also faced by medium and large organisations. Primarily, they are legally required to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their staff and are compelled to comply with health and safety legislation.
The majority of low-risk small businesses draw up a Safety Statement. This written document specifies how OHS will be managed by the business. It also outlines the risk assessments and control measures needed to minimize risk in the workplace.
Some small businesses, especially those in high-risk sectors, may benefit from having access to more resources that traditional safety statements provide. They may find value in buying a cloud-based OHS management system.
4. Examples of OHS management systems for medium and large businesses
Medium and large businesses have many challenges in common with small businesses in that they must provide a safe and healthy working environment for their staff and are compelled to comply with all health and safety legislation. However, they also face specific challenges, such as being spread across several sites nationwide or even internationally.
Medium-sized businesses must have a Safety Statement that outlines how OHS requirements will be managed and show how the company will comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
Large business must also have Safety Statement but face a greater financial cost of non-compliance. Dedicated OHS management software, whether developed in-house or brought in, can help streamline safety processes throughout a large organization. It can help develop consistent rules across multiple sites and ensure that processes are uniform across different locations. Most OHS management systems can help facilitate better communication between departments in large businesses.
5. Key elements of OHS management systems
Regardless of type, all OHS management systems have the following key elements:
Policy and commitment
Implementation and operation
Auditing and reviewing performance
We’ll discuss each of these five areas in greater detail.
Policy and commitment
First and foremost, OHS management systems must help organizations prepare an occupational safety and health policy program that is fit for purpose. This program must set a clear direction for the organization to follow and must demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement. It must also meet the expectations of all stakeholders, whether they are shareholders, employees, customers or society.
The second element of an OHS management system is that it helps an organization create a plan that sets out how it will fulfil its health and safety policy. This includes any arrangements and management structures required for an organization to meet its health and safety objectives and targets.
Implementation and operation
Thirdly, OHS management software should outline how an organization plans to implement its health and safety policy and meet its objectives and targets. This includes how it will motivate employees to work safely, avoid accidents and protect their long term health. In terms of operation, the OHS management system should help an organization in the following areas:
How to encourage staff to participate in the OHS process, via safety committees and a safety representation system.
How staff members are empowered to make responsible and informed contributions to the health and safety program.
How assessment methods are used to eliminate risks, through the selection and design of equipment, facilities, and processes. If risks cannot be eliminated, there should be ways of minimizing risk through safe systems and physical controls.
Fourthly, the OHS management system should outline how the organisation plans to measure, monitor and evaluate safety and health performance. It will state the standards against which performance will be measured and state whether active self-monitors or reactive monitoring will be used to guard against or respond to accidents, ill health, and incidents.
Auditing and reviewing performance
The fifth element of OHS management systems is to state how an organization plans to review and improve its health and safety management system. This covers legal responsibilities, reference to key performance indicators, external comparison with the performance of business competitors and best practice in the organisation’s employment sector. This helps companies report on how well they have performed on worker safety and health in their annual reports and how they have fulfilled their responsibilities with regard to preparing and implementing their Safety Statements.
6. Key elements of software OHS management systems
Software OHS management systems have the same basic elements as paper-based systems. However, they also have a number of unique elements that are not found in paper-based OHS management systems. These elements are:
We will outline each of these elements below and show how they relate to software OHS management systems.
Most software OHS management systems offer a range of mobile capabilities. They allow employees and/or contractors to access and edit safety documents and procedures via mobile devices. This works using a special app, developed especially for OHS management system.
Using the app, staff can make observations and report hazard no matter their location. This helps to engage your workforce with health and safety rules and procedures, and helps you meet your OHS goals.
Easy-to-use mobile capabilities such as apps can help employees feel part of the safety process. Mobile apps can make it easier for everyone to participate in the process and feel part of the team. This also eliminates tedious paper-based reporting and helps improve efficiency by reducing the time it takes for staff to comply with OHS procedures.
Many OHS management systems are cloud-based and make it easier for organizations to manage and meet their OHS goals. Cloud-based systems make it far simpler for businesses of all sizes to share actions, tasks and compliance data throughout an entire organization. As everything is run online, employees can quickly access data on any internet-enabled device, no matter where they are. This helps managers create and assign duties, share reports and updates, from any location.
Cloud-based OHS management systems will let senior management see whether activities and duties are being completed. This helps improve regulatory compliance and improve the efficiency of data collection and reporting by putting all OHS data in a single, centralized location. Any incident logs can be quickly accessed, tracked, managed and analysed to help avoid them in the future.
Most software OHS management systems adopt a ‘connected processes’ approach that makes health and safety management far simpler. A connected OHS management system is one where all the processes are integrated and a change to one process is automatically saved and made available to everyone using the system. This can make your work life far simpler by greatly simplifying the OHS management processes.
For example, a connected OHS management system can offer the following tasks:
Automatically log incident reports
Use data to generate reports
Conduct analysis of OHS incidents and reports
Make suggestions about future tasks and improvements
The fourth key element of software OHS management systems is that they are far more user-friendly than paper-based systems. The software interface is fully customizable and offers functionality that far surpasses what can be accomplished with paper-based approaches. For example, the software interface is clear, simple and intuitive and lets employees accomplish the following tasks:
Report incidents, injuries, hazards, and risks.
Conduct risk assessments
Receive automated reminders.
Work within simple ‘open’ workflows
Generate dashboard reports
As you can see, software OHS management systems offer a range of unique benefits that aren’t available to paper-based systems. The software helps employees understand the cause of accidents and gives them the tools to reduce the chances of a repeat accident. The software also helps organizations understand associated costs and confidently management risks.
Benefits of software OHS management systems
Software OHS management systems have many unbeatable advantages of traditional paper-based OHS systems. These include:
Improving incident reporting rates
Reducing risks and incidents
Improve employee efficiency by reducing the time taken to complete paperwork
Enhance a company’s compliance with OHS legislation
Protect a company’s reputation by reducing risk.
Identify and develop cost-effective strategies, thus minimizing lost time.
Improve competitiveness by reducing time spent on staffing costs.
Develop communication, especially with large organisations spread across several locations
Overall, software OHS management systems let businesses manage their OHS strategies across their entire organization, helping to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while protecting themselves against non-compliance legislation.
With a wide variety of OHS management systems available, there’s never been a better time to consider whether your organization in on the right track. Our outline of the types and examples of OHS management systems show that many businesses would benefit from reviewing their OHS provisions on a regular basis.
If you’re still taking unnecessary risks with the safety of your staff and your reputation as an employer, don’t. Contact Beakon today and find out how our OHS management system can help protect your business. Our unique software will help your organisation achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace.