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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard Magazine

CrowdWise—Burning question

“I’ve just started a new H&S role in an organisation which appears to have a health and safety ‘system’ in place. How can I tell if the system is really alive and not just a pretty flowchart?”

As part of the induction process you will be meeting people from various areas. Use this contact to ask questions like: how do you report an incident? Who is your H&S rep? Things that every person on staff should know. This will at least show what penetration there is in the organisation. Of course people always have ideas when asked – capture them!

Annie Percy, Blenheim

Request a 15-minute meeting with the CEO to discuss health & safety. Ask:

  • • 
    What is your view of our current H&S status?
  • • 
    What are the H&S goals for business for the year?
  • • 
    What are the greatest H&S threats to the business in the next 24 months?

Then go talk to staff, asking:

  • • 
    What H&S issues have been raised in the last year?
  • • 
    How are they reported?
  • • 
    How do you know they are being dealt with?

If the answers are clear and immediate, there is a “system”. The answers will indicate the focus for future improvement.

Rowly Brown, Christchurch

We undertake an annual culture survey as part of the “Best Places to Work” survey with the following questions:

  • • 
    This organisation is committed to the health and safety of its people.
  • • 
    I believe that our health and safety systems are keeping us safe.
  • • 
    I believe that health and safety is important in our workplace.
  • • 
    People in my team never walk past something that’s not safe without taking action.
  • • 
    My manager makes sure the health and safety processes and procedures are completed.
  • • 
    My manager checks that our team undertakes our tasks safely.
  • • 
    Unsafe behaviour is dealt with in a timely manner.

Michael Wilson, Wellington

The only one way to be sure if a system is working properly is to check it, and here it means asking the workers. Do they know what hazards exist in their workplaces and what measures are in place to minimise their risks? Do they have an effective way of communicating their concerns to somebody with the authority to make changes? What is supposed to happen to keep people safe, does it happen, and is it always effective? How easy is it to find out about ideas and problems so they can be shared and discussed?

Derek Titman, Auckland

Ask people questions to identify the effectiveness of a health and safety system. An effective guidance tool is the “Focus group interview” checklist in ACC’s document Measuring your Capabilities in Workplace Safety Management. Also, get staff to discuss past incidents informally, then check if those incidents were reported, investigated, and if corrective actions were put in place. This triangulation method can work well.

Anna-Lisa Sviatko, Auckland

Know the system, know the owners, and undertake training if necessary. Once completed you will have an understanding of the system, an appreciation of how it works and how it doesn’t, including what the work-arounds are and what are the expectations. Now undertake a gap analysis: where are we in respect to where the system expects us to be? Don’t bring problems, bring solutions.

Campbell Hardy, Gore

A system is only alive when all officers and workers know how, when and why to use it, and it provides insights to keep people safe. Does your H&S system manage the three key areas of planning, managing and engaging on safety? Do workers and work groups participate and have access to the system and report easily in it? Ask them. If it doesn’t make sense they won’t use it. Systems actively support the safety of all and they need to find a balance between compliance and being used.

Lisa Bell, Auckland


“I’m a health & safety rep and really getting into it, so much so that I am considering it as a career move. What’s the best way to make that transition, and how have other people secured their first paid H&S role?”

If you have faced this issue and found a solution which works, tell us what you did in no more than 100 words. Responses to by 5 September please!

Thomson Reuters

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