Tag Archives: occupational health and safety

How Good Does it Feel to Give?

health and safety, OHS, WHS, occupational health and safety

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service are running a campaign aimed at small businesses and company’s to help meet the constant demand for blood donations.

The campaign is called RED25 and Custodian Safety Services have proudly registered to become one of the many Australian businesses encouraging clients, friends and family to donate blood and share in the feel good emotions that saving lives through blood donation gives.

Donating blood is obviously at the discretion of the individual donor but take it from my own personal experience that it feels good to give back to the very community that has helped Custodian Safety Service become a vibrant and growing OHS Consultancy. Maybe you may feel the same?

For information on how to register in Custodian Safety Services RED25 group or on how to become a blood donor contact Cathal on the details listed in this website or visit https://www.donateblood.com.au/red25/join-group and follow the on screen instructions.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au


What Nobody Told Me – Hiring an OHS Consultant

5 things to Consider

Placing your company’s OHS management into the wrong hands can lead to accident’s resulting in injury and/or property damage, inconvenient and avoidable work stoppages and contract delays where clients expect a high level of compliance from contractors. It pays to do your due diligence when choosing an OHS consultancy. Within this article we discuss 4 critical components in choosing the right OHS consultant for your business.

1.      Reputation & Quality of Work

Outsourcing your OHS management may have a lot of benefits, but it can also be a significant risk if not put into the right hands. You want an OHS consultancy whom can deliver what’s required with a high level of quality and whom you can trust and establish a long term relationship with. The types of questions you may want to ask include:

  • Do they have any solid client references from other similar sized clients like you?
  • What success stories can they share?
  • What industries do they get majority of their business from?
  • What areas do they specialise in?

2.      Customer Service & Support

Customer service during the purchase phase is paramount and all good professional service providers will assist in the planning, development, training, trouble shooting, maintenance and upgrading of a service. You should expect to receive a detailed proposal in writing for large jobs or a quotation in writing for smaller jobs. The types of questions that should be answered in the proposal/quotation prior to project completion include:

  • Job Delivery Time frame
  • Fixed Fee Guarantee
  • Professional Indemnity & Insurance
  • Confidentiality
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Exclusions
  • Availability

 3.      Pricing & Fee Structures

In the OHS consulting services industry it is common place for OHS service providers to charge ‘day rates’ without giving an accurate assessment of how long (or short) a job might be. This ‘open cheque book’ type of fee structure has turned many businesses away from using OHS consultants in the past as they experienced job over runs and often pay far in excess that what was originally forecast. The types of questions you may want to ask include:

  • Do you provide a fixed all inclusive job proposal/quotation?
  • Can you set and guarantee a job completion date?
  • Do you take on jobs under $500 in value?

4.      Responsiveness & Dependability

Business moves fast. With that you need to have professional service providers such as accountants, IT and finance brokers to be both responsive and dependable. OHS consulting is no different and you need a provider that can solve your issue or assist your efforts when the time arises in the quality expected from a professional service provider.

Posted by: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

Dogman Required?

ohs, dogman, rigging, ohs melbourne

The debate over whether a dogman is required to sling and lift loads in Australian workplaces has raged on and on countrywide for quite some time now.

Every week you can rest assured that a workplace manager and a client/contractor or employees are at odds about the requirement of a dogman to sling and lift loads.

Unfortunately if we are to consider the issue of dogman requirements across all Australian workplaces and in all Australian states there is no definite yes/no answer to the issue.

If a dogman is needed in ‘every instance of lifting a load’ then every nurse in every hospital and aged care facility should have dogman training which is currently not the case. However, in many construction sites and steel foundry’s dogman training is a pre requisite prior to performing any load slinging/lifting.

Is a bundle of steel being lifted and the persons below any more critical that a patient and a nearby nurse?

rigging, dogman, ohs melbourne, ohs

To help with this commonly encountered workplace dilemma here are a few notes on Dogman requirements we always use to provide direction:

  • If there needs to be an assessment made as to the weight of the load, a dogman is required.
  • If there is a need to make a selection of the lifting equipment (sling/chain) needed to lift the object a dogman is required.
  • If there is a need to work out where and how the lifting chain/sling is to be attached to the load a dogman is required.
  • If the load leaves the sight of the person operating the crane/hoist and whistles or radio signals are used a dogman is required.

The exact requirements on whether a dogman is required or not will continue to vary from state to state based on legislation and industry to industry based on expectations but hopefully you might find these short notes useful.

Posted by Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

Safety Culture – Where to Next?

Safety Culture

In 1993 the UK Health and Safety Commission defined safety culture as:

“The safety culture of an organisation is the product of individual and group values, attitudes,Perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behaviour that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organisation’s health and safety management. Organisations with a positive safety culture are characterised by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.”

This definition of Safety Culture has been widely accepted in Australia ever since and was recently cited in the SIA’s Core Body of Knowledge publication in October 2014.

However, the effectiveness of ‘safety culture’ within organisations with regards to the reduction of workplace accidents and injuries has continued to come under the spotlight in recent times.

At an event focusing on OHS I attended recently a university professor at RMIT stated that ‘safety culture is not something that exists or is something that prevents accidents, organisations must work on fixing organisational and management procedures – if they act on this they will fix the problem.’

Another professor, Patrick Hudson has a more positive view on safety culture and in a recent virtual seminar for Safe Work Australia he likens organisational culture to a game of snakes and ladders—we can climb up but also slide down.

He outlines the key components in distinguishing if an organisation has a healthy safety culture is whether it is proactive or reactive with regards to its OHS management and its senior leadership.

He also states that ‘climbing the ladder’ is harder that company’s think but the good news is that his never encountered a companies that wants to go down the ladder and if companies do get up to the top everybody benefits.

Peter’s full virtual seminar can be viewed here on the Safe Work Australia website: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/australian-strategy/vss/pages/patrick-hudson-culture-ladder

My own opinion as an OHS consultant working day in day out with businesses to improve their OHS Management across all levels is that the development of a safety culture is not a quick fix and is certainly a difficult area to focus our efforts on while still offering justifiable value for money for any business within any industry.

Whatever you opinions are on safety culture and its effectiveness within organisations at the moment this is an area where I will be watching with keen interest in the coming year as the debates surrounding the topic continue.

Posted by: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

SIA’s OHS Body of Knowledge Project

BOK Image

The Safety Institute of Australia has been busy developing a book they call The OHS Body of Knowledge (BOK) in recent years. In early 2015 the final chapters of the book were released.

What is the ‘BOK’

The OHS Body of Knowledge is the collective knowledge that should be shared by Australian generalist OHS professionals to provide a sound basis for understanding the causation and control of work related fatality, injury, disease and ill health (FIDI). This knowledge can be described in terms of its key concepts and language, its core theories and related empirical evidence, and the application of these to facilitate a safe and healthy workplace.


A defined body of knowledge is required as a basis for professional certification and for accreditation of education programs giving entry to a profession. The lack of such a body of knowledge for OHS professionals was identified in reviews of OHS legislation and OHS education in Australia. After a 2009 scoping study, WorkSafe Victoria provided funding to support a national project to develop and implement a core body of knowledge for generalist OHS professionals in Australia.


The OHS Body of Knowledge provides a basis for accreditation of OHS professional education programs and certification of individual OHS professionals. It provides guidance for OHS educators in course development, and for OHS professionals and professional bodies in developing continuing professional development activities. Also, OHS regulators, employers and recruiters may find it useful for benchmarking OHS professional practice.


Importantly, the OHS Body of Knowledge is neither a textbook nor a curriculum; rather it describes the key concepts, core theories and related evidence that should be shared by Australian generalist OHS professionals. This knowledge will be gained through a combination of education and experience.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

This article was taken directly from the OHSBOK website www.ohsbok.org.au

Responsibility of Principal Contractors


Should or shouldn’t principal contractors take responsibility of their sub-contractors?

I have worked professionally in Ireland, USA, UK and Australia and the debate over whether or not principal contractors should take responsibility for their chosen sub-contractors has raged on wherever I went.

I attended a Safety Institute of Australia forum at RMIT university campus in Melbourne at the end of last year where the topic of principal contractor responsibility was on the discussion agenda.

Barry Sherriff, OHS lawyer and partner at Norton Rose Fulbright spoke briefly with regards to principal contractors perceived onus that they must supervise sub-contractors “just because you can supervise doesn’t mean you have too….., you are allowed to rely on that contractor to work safely according to recent court decisions in WA and VIC”

It was apparent to me when listening to Barry and the other guest speakers on the day that the interpretation around whether or not principal contractors are responsible for supervising their sub-contractors has shifted to the side of the principals being allowed to rely on their sub-contractors.

So how do you rely on a sub-contractor? A principal contractor can start by ensuring their chosen sub-contractor can provide:

  • Detailed, specific and accurate Safe Work Method Statements for high risk work tasks.
  • Ensuring the SWMS are reviewed when substantial changes to work practices occur.

Also, honestly consider questions like:

  • Are they up to it?
  • Can they develop safe systems of work?
  • Can they implement the safe systems of work?

If not the responsibility must be removed from them as if the principal contractor dives in to take charge mid-way through contracts the principle contractor must wear it in the event of things going south.

One thing that can be established is that sub-contractors are going to need to get on board the OHS management train if they want to be considered as serious contenders for standalone work packages in the coming future.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

129 Workplace Fatlities – Stop it Rising!

Worker Fatality

As of mid-September, 129 workers have been killed in Australian workplaces in 2014. While this number is down 11% on 2012 it is up 3.2% on 2013.

28% of 2014 workplace fatalities have came in transport, postal & warehousing, 24% in Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing and 14% in Construction.

In light of these statistics a number of industries have been identified as a priority for health and safety by Safe Work Australia.

The areas identified are:

  • Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing
  • Construction
  • Health and Community services
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport & Storage

If we are to create safer workplaces for Australian workers it is vitally important that business owners. Directors and managers take responsibility for taking steps to improve the health and safety of employees at their workplaces.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

The Liability Bomb


The question of liability is passed between developers, principle builders, managers, contractors and employees like a bomb with a rapidly burning fuse.

Merely ‘passing the buck’ won’t carry much weight in the event of an investigation by the workplace safety watchdog in any Australian state.

Persons in Control of Businesses or Undertakings (PCBU’s can include developers, principle builders, businesses responsible for work premises and others) must be aware that it is not as simple as pointing a finger or ‘passing the buck’ if an accident resulting in injury that occurs at their undertaking is investigated by the workplace safety watchdog. PCBU’s should be aware that they can never completely hold themselves harmless in the eyes of the watchdog.

However, with an effective and well managed Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management system that clearly identifies the responsibilities of principle builders, senior managers, contractors and employees and requests contractor’s commitments towards OHS in the form of OHS management plans, OHS policies and Safe Work Method Statements.

PCBU’s while never holding themselves harmless can certainly go a long way to sharing the liability of adverse events during sub-contracted parts of their undertaking (project/production cycle) by justifiably obtaining the sub-contractors written commitment to conducting their works safely.

Also, it has been proven that clearly identifying roles, responsibilities and sub-contractor OHS requirements prior to the commencement of any physical works on site notably increases the awareness of OHS requirements and commitments to safe work practices on all levels.

Therefore the liability bomb may never even go off leaving all parties from developer to worker unharmed.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

Moving Goalposts Mid Game Frustrates All


The Construction Industry is a competitive one. A large project can be a lot like a game of footy with teams consisting of managers, tradesmen and labourers competing and working together to achieve a common goal.

All games need rules and in games rules are monitored and enforced by umpires. In the construction Industry workplace law and standards outline the rules and it is the turn of the safety professional to play the role of umpires in monitoring and enforcing the laws and standards.

However, safety professionals have a different challenge to that of footy umpires as time and time again due to lack of effective communication at the commencement of the game (project) not every team (contractor) is aware of the rules (laws and standards) expected of them until the game has kicked off.

As a result time and time again, safety professionals are seen by contractors as nuisances that move the goalposts (change the rules) after the game (project) has started.

The culture in the construction industry must change so all teams (contractors) know where the goalposts (rules) are before the game (project) starts so safety professionals are not continually seen by contractors as unfair rule changers after the game has already started.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au

perth, ohs, safety, swms

Recent Presentation Blitz

In Action! Cathal Uniacke, Founder of Custodian Safety Services speaking at a free information seminar on why smart businesses invest in Occupational Health and Safety Services in Northbridge, Perth.

Custodian Safety Services have recently done a number of presentations on why smart businesses invest in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), the type of OHS consulting services we have provided to date and how we can make life easier for small to medium enterprises with regards to their OHS management and obligations.

In April Cathal Uniacke, founder of Custodian Safety Services presented to a full house at the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast in Café De Tuscany in Melbourne’s Central Business District.

In May we presented to a full house at the Business Network International (BNI) networking session in the Keysborough Golf Club, Keysborough and in June we completed our recent blitz of presentations when we held a free OHS information seminar in Rosie O’Grady’s, Northbridge, Perth.

“The presentations went really well and a number of solid leads have been generated so hopefully we can start to assist more and more SME’s with OHS management difficulties they may be experiencing.” Said Cathal, commenting on the recent presentations.

Posted By: Cathal Uniacke – cathal@custodiansafety.com.au