Walking the Walk: Keeping “Our Most Valuable Asset” Safe

October 9, 2017
FCB HR

Man-walking-on-slackline

Association for Talent Development

Was Mark Allen onto something here?  We’re not saying most businesses don’t believe people are their most valuable asset.  But can businesses say with confidence that the decisions they make place people as their most valuable and important asset?  And can those same businesses say that they do everything they can to ensure their most important asset is kept healthy and safe?

It’s definitely a balancing act.  A culture of safety at work is vital, and businesses accept it requires a significant investment in resources.  The challenge for small and medium businesses is that the expectations placed on them are not identifiably lower than those placed on large businesses.  But the ability to meet the cost and administrative resource requirements of ensuring all safety obligations are met, and the important asset kept safe, can seem prohibitive.

Effective safety management is complex

Managing health and safety can be complex and challenging.  It requires technical knowledge and support, robust processes and a meticulous approach to administration, as well as a culture which promotes an open dialogue across multiple stakeholders, the most important of which is the workforce.

There are non-negotiable requirements to meet a variety of WHS obligations, including:

  • ensuring officers exercise due diligence to ensure the business meets its work health and safety obligations
  • ensuring workers have proper information, instruction, training and supervision;
  • providing safe plant and systems of work;
  • maintaining the workplace in a safe condition;
  • identifying and eliminating hazards
  • complying with incident reporting requirements
  • consulting with workers on safety
  • consulting with other Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) on safety

In addition to meeting those obligations in practice you need to be able to demonstrate, to the regulator at first instance, and then potentially to a Court, that you have met them.  This requires meticulous record-keeping and administration processes, and an ability to access and report on those records.

Simplicity through structure

Out of the process of harmonisation of Australia’s health and safety laws (although harmonisation might be a stretch given a couple of vocalists are singing their own song) FCB developed, and has continued to refine, a simple to use, structured WHS management solution through our enableHR platform.

The platform breaks WHS management into the three manageable and functional areas into which WHS obligations can be grouped, being:

  • Lead Safety
  • Manage Safety
  • Engage on Safety

Leading Safety

Leading safety focuses on the establishment of a culture within the business which will place safety at front of mind for everyone within the business.

Leading safety involves fundamentals such as the establishment of a WHS policy and the safety management system.  More importantly it drives the officer due diligence process.  Embedding a culture of safety, and meeting safety obligations requires an understanding from the business’ decision makers of the safety risks associated with its operations and an understanding of what steps the business has taken and needs to take to deal with those risks.  The enableHR solution establishes and tracks the steps taken to ensure officers have met their due diligence obligations in relation to safety.

One of the frustrations we experience as trusted advisers to our clients is when we know they have done all that can reasonably be expected of them to meet their WHS obligations, but they can’t readily deliver the evidence to support this.  With the enableHR solution allows you to report every single engagement each of your officers has in relation to safety.  So if a regulator or Court questions whether your officers have met their due diligence obligations it is a simple matter of running a report through the system to provide evidence.

Managing Safety

Managing safety in the enableHR context focuses on a number of proactive and reactive measures to ensure a safe workplace, and that the business meets its compliance obligations.  These include hazard identification and incident management.

Hazard identification and management represents a great example of the proactive and reactive elements of the enableHR WHS system.  Utilizing the workflows within the system you are able to proactively identify, then assess and record hazards.  It also takes the user through the process of putting in place (and recording) measures implemented to eliminate the hazard, with the capability to establish future milestones and reminders for assessing the effectiveness of those measures.

The management reporting capability of the system means the business can run reports on what hazards exist and how, and how effectively, they have been dealt with.

Engaging on Safety

Engaging on safety is about each person coming into the business having the opportunity to contribute to the safety culture, and to influence the way the business deals with safety matters.

In the enableHR WHS system context, engaging on safety provides workflows and structure on the key issues of WHS consultation and induction of employees and contractors.  By stepping through the consultation workflow in the system, the user ensures they are properly preparing for and conducting a safety consultation, including ensuring that all relevant stakeholders (including other PCBUs) are involved, as well as ensuring they are capturing the contribution of workers and other stakeholders.

And once again, we can demonstrate.  The management reporting capability means the business can, at the touch of a button present to a regulator, Court or other person clear evidence that the business has complied with its obligations with respect to consultation.  It also means the business can, again at the touch of a button, demonstrate that its workers (employees and contractors) have undergone a robust induction process.

Levelling the playing field

We firmly believe that the enableHR WHS solution provides our small and medium business clients with a solution which means they are able to embed a safety culture, and demonstrate compliance with safety obligations, just as effectively as Australia’s largest businesses.

Our WHS laws hold small and medium businesses to the same standard as large businesses in circumstances where large businesses have the capacity to dedicate greater resources to meeting those standards.  We think this effectively creates an uneven playing field.  enableHR can help small and medium businesses to remove that feeling that they are pushing uphill and into the wind.