SAI Global says failure to address workplace safety regularly is one of a few common oversights.
A workplace safety system that directs, regularly reviews and updates appropriate procedures is the best way to avoid incidents on an ongoing basis, says SAI Global workplace safety expert Saeid Nikdel. “Most organisations have set workplace health and safety procedures that may be supported by an OHS (occupational health and safety) Policy. However, a policy is simply a statement that can be the framework for the company’s OHS commitments,” says Nikdel.
“The management system is a set of business processes and documentation – including policies, objectives, procedures and governance, which control the conditions and factors that affect the health and safety of all interested parties in the workplace and facilitate organisations to avoid their injuries and illnesses.”
SAI Global has identified the key mistakes, shortcomings and areas for improvement for organisations in their workplace health and safety management systems. These include:
- Failure to address workplace safety at regular intervals – safety is an ongoing conversation, and workers should be trained and engaged throughout their careers, not just when joining the team.
- Making OHS the responsibility of one person – what happens if that person is on leave when an incident occurs or when staff require training? A team that is well-versed on the management system and procedures must be prepared and available to step in.
- Prolonged monotonous work or high-intensity work – these can cause fatigue, a major contributor to accidents. Improve OHS performance by not having staff do intensive or laborious work for long stretches; ensure sufficient breaks are taken.
Nikdel is a proponent of the international ISO 45001 OHS standard. “[It is] the most effective standard for minimising risk and hazards to deliver a safe and healthy workplace for employees, contractors, visitors and any other people in the workplace,” he says.
“It also reduces an organisation’s risk of liability should it be faced with a workers’ compensation claim.”
Control measures of ISO 45001 include ensuring only those with a permit can work in, and have access to, certain areas, regular assessment of ergonomic and injury prevention initiatives, using new technology to improve workplace health and safety, encouraging workers to report incidents in a timely manner and improving the visibility of senior management’s support for the OHS management system.
According to Safe Work Australia figures, there are an average of 183 workplace fatalities in Australia each year.