Tag Archives: ohs melbourne

What Nobody Told Me – Industrial Manslaughter

OHS, OHS Melbourne, Industrial Manslaughter, OHS Consultant, OHS Consultant Melbourne

In Victoria, from July 1 this year, the consequences of a workplace fatality will become far more serious for employers who are not providing a safe workplace. This date marks the passing of the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 – Workplace Manslaughter into law.

The Victorian Parliament has created Australia’s highest safety fine and made Victoria the third Australian jurisdiction to make industrial manslaughter a criminal offense.

Where are the new laws & Who so the laws apply to?

The new industrial manslaughter laws have been added to the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) (OHS Act) and will apply to employers, designers, manufacturers, self-employed persons as well as officers. The laws apply to all businesses irrespective of size.

The new laws will introduce maximum fines of approx. $16.5m for employers and jail terms of up to 20 years and fines of up to $1.65m for officers whose actions or omissions:

  • cause the death of a worker or member of the public;
  • involve a breach of an OHS duty;
  • were negligent

Where there are principle contractors and contractors involved in a workplace they will both have duties and they will be identified on a case by case basis.

The accused must be/or circumstances must involve:

  • A body corporate and not a person who is an employee or volunteer
  • Must owe a duty pursuant to sections 21-24 & sections 26-31 of the OHS Act 2004
  • Must have breached the duty with a criminal offence where there is a high risk of death or injury
  • The act causing the death must have been carried out consciously
  • There must be a death

How is negligence defined?

The negligence standard is the criminal negligence standard and applies where there is a great falling short of the care that would have been taken by a reasonable person in the circumstances in which the conduct was engaged in, and involves a high risk of death or serious injury or serious illness.

Who is an Officer?

An officer – Defined on a case by case basis. Typically a person who has the means to affect a safe work culture via day to day control over work processes and resources. An officer is typically somebody senior in the business must have a contribution to the significant company decisions.

What should businesses do now?

It is important to note that if you comply with the legislation now you will comply after July 1 the new laws are an increase in consequence change not a duty change and all existing laws pre 1st July 2020 will still apply post 1st July 2020.

However, it is important for businesses that they continued to ensure adequate OHS systems, instruction, training, supervision and also place a heavy focus on worker engagement and a strong safety culture within the organisation.

Now is a good time to review your organisations workplaces and processes. The steps you should look at taking include:

  • Reviewing all the potential hazards and risks in the workplace and ensuring that these risks are assessed and controls implemented.
  • Completing a formal review of all the safety systems and controls currently in place and ensure they are fully effective
  • Reviewing OHS leadership and culture to ensure that any alleged negligent conduct is not authorised or permitted by the company or culture;
  • Education and awareness for directors, senior officers and managers on the new legislation and offences;
  • Reviewing incident action plans and responses
  • Self-employed persons must consider how their business effects the safety people
  • Designers and manufacturers must design and make safe equipment

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

What Nobody Told Me – Working From Home

OHS, OHS Melbourne, Ergonomics, OHS Consultant

While working at home may be a new concept for some industries and job roles many employers have been adopting and implementing work from home employment agreements since cloud computing and high speed internet have become common place within industries.

With the recent uptrend in working from home even before the COVID-19 came about there have been some experience based learning’s that we can share with you. If adopted with the right attitude working from home does provide opportunities for business improvements and may result in some innovative new practices within businesses moving into the future.

Establishing a Routine

It is important that you keep yourself in a regular morning routine so that your in the right frame of mind for work. i.e. shower, get dressed for the day, eat breakfast just as if you were leaving the house to go to work.

Those lucky enough to have a spare room or enough space for a dedicated workstation should set up a workstation in these areas. As much as possible try and minimise distractions, ensure comfortable seating (more on this later) and have natural light. Try to avoid working in the same space as where you sleep.

Create a schedule just as you would at work and take regular breaks. Hand out the washing, walk around the block or just make a coffee or cup or tea, all of these things will refresh your mind. Also, it is important to ensure all persons living with you are aware that you work from home and some house rules or structure are set that all persons can respect.

Ergonomic considerations

It is important to ensure your workstation is set up safely in order to reduce aches and pain associated with working at a desk.

We assist companies manage this workplace safety issue and have developed a workstation self-assessment form to guide managers and persons undertaking work at desks to implement adequate controls to reduce risks. We are happy to share this resource with you: Workstation Self-Assessment

When working off a laptop of using a non-height adjustable chair you may need to be creative. Some of the ‘out side the box’ controls listed below may be of use to you.

  • Access an external wireless keyboard and mouse to increase posture flexibility
  • Raise your screen to eye level
  • Introduce a sit stand desk or duel screen
  • Use pillows or a rolled up towel to provide lumbar support
  • Increase your chair height
  • Placing a stool on the ground so your feel have a surface to rest on

 Mental Health

One of the most underestimated challenges when working from home is mental health and the often unexpected sense of isolation people can feel. We humans are a social species and need to feel connected.

While you wont have the coffee machine or water cooler for 5 minute chats when working from home there are other ways of staying connected. Here are a few ideas:

  • Scheduled work team conference calls with video where possible
  • Sychronised coffee or lunch breaks with work colleagues
  • Work group Whats app, Facebook Messenger or just plain old group texts

Our Working From Home Support Services Include:

  • Remote workstation assessments including interviews or video call sessions.
  • Working from home policies and procedures
  • Setting up your workstation procedure

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

What Nobody Told Me – SWMS Vs JSA

SWMS, JSA OHS Consultant

When working with clients time and time again we are asked to clarify when a task requires a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) or a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and what is the difference between a SWMS and a JSA.

With that in mind I have prepared the below comparison table which helps to identify when each type of document should be used and what the differences between the documents are.

SWMS

JSA

Must be in place for tasks involving high risk work as per the OHS Regulations Should be in place for tasks that do not involve high risk work
Should include legislation, codes of practice and Australian standards referencing Does not need to include legislation, codes of practice and Australian standards referencing
Should include the address and ABN of the company submitting the SWMS Does not need to include the address and ABN of the company submitting the JSA
Should include a risk matrix where no two risk scores repeat themselves. (5×5 matrix – 1-25 risk scores recommended) A basic risk matrix is required (3×3 – H,M,L matrix is acceptable)
Should include required training, equipment, hazardous substances, PPE and permits required to complete the task in specific requirement identification sections. Should include required training, equipment, hazardous substances, PPE and permits required to complete the task in the risk control measures sections.
Job step, task process, possible hazards, initial risk score, risk control measures, residual risk score and control responsibility should be detailed. Task process, possible hazards, risk control measures, control responsibility and risk score should be detailed.
Additional blank sections should be included in the rear of the document in the event that the task changes and additional safety control measures are required. Additional blank sections should be included in the rear of the document in the event that the task changes and additional safety control measures are required.
Must be communicated to and signed by all persons undertaking the listed tasks. Must be communicated to and signed by all persons undertaking the listed tasks.

 

I expect the workplace debates on whether a task requires a SWMS or a JSA to rage on into the future but I hope readers of this basic comparison can identify what type of risk control tool they should be using and what the document should include.

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

 

What Nobody Told Me – OHS Do’s

OHS Consultant, OHS Melbourne

Conduct Company Inductions

The OHS/WHS Acts of all states require that employees are provided with information with regards to the job they will be undertaken. The best time to do an induction is the time directly before the employee start work. It’s also a good idea to do other pre-start tasks like tax and payment details collection and the issue of any specialised work equipment.

Prepare & Communicate Written Work Instructions

The OHS/WHS Acts of all states require that employees are provided with instruction with regards to the job they will be undertaking. When taking into account the what both the employer and the employee needs to get out of work instructions the most appropriate way to manage the process is through the preparation and communication of written work instructions.

Have an Accident Reporting System

Employers have a duty to record & report accidents under workplace laws or alternatively face legal action. Employers also have a duty under agreements with insurers to record and report accidents or face there insurance cover being declared null and void by the insurer. It is important that an accident reporting system is in place and properly implemented.

Have a Risk Management Procedure

Employers are required under the OHS/WHS to provide employees with a safe place of work. Arguments between builders, contractors and employees occur every day in Australian workplaces as to what exactly a safe place of work is? In order to manage the process of managing risks and to help provide a safe place of work a risk management procedure should be in place and properly implemented.

Have a Competent Person Regularly Inspect Work Areas

Workplaces change. No matter how well managed work processes are or how well the procedures are implemented the fact is materials are brought out/in, rearranged or redeveloped. Having a competent person available to regularly inspect the work area for risks can greatly reduce the likelihood and consequences of an accident/incident occurring.

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

How OHS Consultants Help Companies Manage OHS

  • All employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees have safe access to work, safe equipment to work with and a safe system of work.
  • Where a builder or contractor is also a person in control of a business and undertaking (PCBU) they may have the responsibility for the safety of other company employees
  • While these issues are placed at the forefront of importance at contract commencement they often become less of a priority as the project progresses, schedules get busy and resources are stretched.
  • having a competent person available to regularly check and inspect that safe access to work, safe equipment to work with and a safe system of work are in place becomes even more of a challenge.
  • Custodian Safety Services have the technical capability to regularly check and inspect that safe access to work, safe equipment to work with and a safe system of work are in place.
  • Our clients have found the reports beneficial and value a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ and have found that they can manage OHS across a larger area.
  • We will continue to pitch and develop this service offering in the future based on feedback received and our own experiences.

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

Moving Goalposts Mid Game Frustrates All

Goalposts1

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

Importance of Trust in OHS Consulting

Trust

As Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management continues to diversify and evolve it is difficult for OHS consultants/consultancies to constantly remain up to date and current across all industries. I believe it is vitally important for the image of OHS consulting as a whole that when a consultant/consultancy is presented with consulting opportunities that do not fall within their current capabilities that the consultant/consultancy refers the client to a more suited service provider.

This referral has a number of benefits; firstly the client receives a better service with regards to their initial issue, secondly the consultant/consultancy that made the initial contact does not risk damaging their image by working outside of their capabilities and delivering poor service and finally a positive image of consultants/consultancy is maintained or even improved.

Our consultancy recently faced a scenario where a client approached us about the provision of a service outside of our current capabilities. We referred another consultancy within our network whose capabilities matched the client’s needs. This referral resulted in the three benefits listed above. The direct benefit we received was that the OHS consultancy we referred repeated the process and directed a client to us whose needs were within our capabilities. The aforementioned scenario was a win for both clients and consultancy.

Referring clients to other OHS consultancies may not appear too appealing to the consultancy at first, however, with the underlying benefits of doing so apparent, I believe it is important to trust that the referred consultant/consultancy will do the same and create an ongoing win for client and consultancy and reinforce the value of having OHS consultants across all industries.

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

OHS Management Plan

Mnagement System

What is an OHS management Plan and what should it include?

An OHS management Plan is a combination of commitments from company management in the form of policies, organisation arrangement, assigning of responsibilities to internal company management and specific details and methods in the form of procedures and administrative documentation on how these commitments will be realised.

A typical contents page from an OHS Safety Management Plan can be seen below:

·         Document Control

·         Organisational Structure

·         Project Details and Introduction

·         Sub-Contractor Management

·         Company Policies

Health & Safety Policy

Environmental Policy

Industrial Relations Policy

Harassment Policy

Anti-Discrimination Policy

Rehabilitation Policy

Alcohol & Drugs Policy

·                                Roles & Responsibilities

            Managing Director

            Works Supervisor

·                                Risk Management

            Risk Rating

            Safe Work Method Statements

                         Hazard Reporting

·                               Safe Work Procedures

            Company Induction

            Incident & Accident

            First Aid

            Emergency Procedure

            Hazardous Substances

            Electrical Equipment

            Manual Handling

            Permits to Work

            Personal Protective Equipment

            Environmental Impacts

            Worker Health Issues

            Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

            Young Workers

·                               OHS Training

           Training & Toolbox Talks

           Employee Consultation

           Health and Safety Representatives

·                               Performance Monitoring

           Statistics

                        Performance Evaluation     

·                              Corrective & Preventive Actions

           Corrective action

                        Preventive Action

·                              Forms & Registers

           SWMS01 Template

           FOR-01 Worksite Accident/Incident Report Form

           REG-01 Incident/Accident Register of Injuries

           REG-02 Chemicals Register

           REG-03 Plant Register

           REG-04 Electrical Test & Tag Register

           REG-05 PPE Register

                       FOR-02 Toolbox Talk

 

An effectively implemented OHS management Plan will:

·         Identify and minimize hazards associated with your organisation’s business

·         Reducing incidents, accidents and injuries in the workplace

·         Reducing risks of legal action for worker’s compensation and liability claims

·         Providing due diligence evidence should an incident or accident occur

·         Boost Staff Morale

·         Allow staff to concentrate on basic business activities

·         Improve performance and productivity

We hope you found this blog enlightening. If so, please don’t be afraid to comment below. Thanks for reading.

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