Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 – Risk Analysis
In April 2016, the new Health and Safety at Work Act (HSAWA) became law.
The purpose of the new HSAWA was to fundamentally change the way Health and Safety moved away from tick boxes, pages of documentation and lack of focus to one of a cultural shift that ensured everyone in the workplace took responsibility.
The action desired was to enable practical, common-sense processes to help ensure a reduction in the excessive workplace injuries, deaths and work-related illness in New Zealand.
So, let’s look back at the progress on this aim. What are the risks, if any, in the current implementation strategies and processes?
In review the following outline of risks are apparent: – Continued complacency – Person(s) Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) and Workers – Old ways on Health and Safety still dominant and overtaking the intent of the new HSAWA –
Lack of clarity from regulators:
Risk migrators WorkSafe’s web site continues to provide valuable guidance for PCBUs, however, the uptake does not appear to be influencing small to medium-sized PCBUs.
This may reflect the confusion, through misinformation, that abounds within Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) which appears to be created by lack of understanding by PCBUs between the new and old Act.
Given that there is a plethora of information, what is driving the lack of taking up?
Are too many ‘experts’ ‘doing Health and Safety’ for the PCBU? (This is, in fact, at odds with the new act where the PCBU must ‘own’ Health and Safety)
In other words, is the PCBU owning the process, or are they just following ‘doctrine’? Is the PCBU actively engaging and understanding the process and therefore the benefits?
An example commonly seen is a chain across a doorway of a mechanics’ workshop.
When asked why the chain is there, the reply is ‘to stop people walking in, you know, as Health and Safety people say’.
Now, let’s do a brief risk analysis of chains across doorways.
How many people (public) have been seriously harmed or killed walking into a mechanics workshop? Research suggests that there is no evidence of anyone being killed.
In the past 24 months, how many members of the public fractured bones or got a concussion after tripping while stepping over a chain? Personally, I am aware of at least 4!
How many people have been killed after getting out of a car to move an object in the way, to then be run over and killed because they didn’t put a brake on or some other cause? Again, I am personally aware of two.
Without due thought, experts appear to support chains across doorways (even when owner suggests not a good idea due to vehicle movements).
While a chain looks good in place – and ticks a box – it instead creates a higher risk of injury and death.
So, what action is required to stop unsupervised people walking into/around the workshop? You could try: – A large simple sign ‘No Entry – Report to Reception’ for clarity – All staff engaged in telling/demanding people cannot enter for engagement – Reminders and permission by the PCBU that this is fully supported
We found that within weeks, the problem of members of the public entering a workshop unsupervised… Eliminated!
Engagement and clarity with all staff enable a cultural shift to ‘ownership of an action’.
Clarity: Signs that ‘invite’ people to walk in be removed. ‘Beware of Hazards’, ‘Hazards area’ are invites to come in, but also to keep a look out for hazards (presuming they know what to look for)
No one is confused by ‘No Entry’ and ‘Do Not Enter’ directions.
It can take a bit longer to successfully implement for people like sales staff and friends who have in the past been free to walk in. These people create major distractions, therefore a risk to a worker, and there is a cost in terms of non-chargeable time.
Our experience suggests that even these people ‘learn’ the new process required when visiting relatively quickly.
This is an example of PCBU ownership of a process. i.e.: – – Understand the real problem – Working through an outcome. – Implementing that solution. – Assessing the outcome.
A solution, driven by the PCBU and workers, it is more likely to: – Add value to the business – Reduced ‘down/non-chargeable time’ – Less distractions and more importantly… – People leave their place of work at the end of each day – Unharmed!