best workplace safety articles

In this the first of our two final articles for 2019, we provide a summary of our best workplace safety articles. We have written a quick overview of each and provided a link back to the original article that also has the research article links. In this way, you will have all the popular themed posts for 2019 accessible from this one article.

Understand and Comply with WHS Laws

Are Australia’s WHS laws so confusing that we are causing more injuries? Many would argue that the increased rate of a casualised workforce is to blame’ some would say it’s all about leadership, and others would suggest that safety training is missing its mark. But is it because our WHS Laws are confusing and compliance is difficult?

For this article, we look at the Review of the Model Work Health and Safety Laws – Final Report published by Safe Work Australia in December 2018 for some guidance. The report sets out seven areas of discussion with some key recommendations. See one of our best workplace safety articles, Confusing WHS Laws See Fatalities Increasing.

Employer and Employee Workplace Safety Obligations

Managing your workplace health and safety obligations is a complicated job. You are required to assess, mitigate and control risks that may impact the health, safety or welfare of those working in and visiting with your workplace. Work health and safety systems, procedures, job safety analyses, risk assessments and training all have a role. For this article, What Are Your Workplace Health and Safety Obligations, we take a look at the responsibility of both employers and employees, managing hazards, and the critical role of training.

Can Employees Recognise, Recall and Report Workplace Hazards?

Hazard perception is fundamental to safety, and employee skills to recognise, recall and report workplace hazards are critical. Little research has been conducted to determine their ability to detect and report a hazard. If your employees don’t see the hazard or believe the hazard is a risk; reporting will not occur. Hazards can be obvious (oil spill on the floor), emerging (cracks in infrastructure) and hidden (noise levels leading to a long-term hearing loss).

Our best workplace safety article, Can Employees Recognise, Recall and Report Workplace Hazards? details an experiment designed to assess the capacity to recall, recognise and report hazards of the participants by means of an exit survey. The results showed that although the participants were better at recognising the hazards then recalling them, they failed to report or record the hazards in the survey. It sheds critical light on employee skills.

WHS Laws

The Important Role of the Safety Manager

Safety managers organise and engage in numerous safety programmes and activities including preparing safe operating procedures, safe work method statements, job safety analyses, risk assessments, audits, observations, toolbox talks, safety moments, HAZOP analyses, Take-5 and other pre-task risk assessments, etc, etc, etc. This year a paper was published, that questions whether the activities by safety managers contribute to keeping people safe or simply gets in the way of safe operational work.

The authors argue that very few safety activities have a proven capability to measure or reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents and that these activities have become routine and ritualised to make organisations feel safe or appear safe. The paper is a complex read and introduces the concept of ‘safety work’ as opposed to the safety of work, and this may be significantly confronting for safety managers. For this article, Are Safety Managers Simply Performing Busy Work, we provide the key concepts in the paper that underpin the authors’ development of a new conceptual model of organisational safety.

Best Practice for Safe Manual Handling

Earlier this year we reviewed a recent publication that provides a summary of lessons learned from companies who implement ergonomics programs to reduce musculoskeletal injuries, as a result of manual handling activities. Companies spend countless hours training and implementing participatory ergonomics programs. However, the research questions if this effort is making a positive impact on manual handling injuries. See one of our best workplace safety articles, Safe Manual Handling: Have We Got It Wrong?

working at height

Do Working at Height Safety Myths Still Exist?

Every year in Australia, an average of 29 people die from work-related falls. Half of the fatal falls involve distances of three metres or less – 31% from a height of two metres or less, and a further 19% involve falls from between two and three metres.

Safe Work Australia’s working at height statistics show that:

  • The highest number of fatalities involve falling from roofs, ladders, vehicles and horses.
  • Workers aged 45 years and over make up 65% of those who died.
  • The construction industry accounts for 37% of falls-related fatalities.

For this article, 8 Working At Height Safety Myths, we look at eight working at height safety myths to improve safer practice.

Silica Dust the Silent Killer

Exposure to silica dust is highly hazardous and can result in injury, illness and disease. We typically associate Black Lung Disease with coal mining and much has been researched and written about this disease. However, exposure to silica dust and asbestos can result in silicosis. The symptoms are very similar. Silica is silicon dioxide that you can find in many rocks and soils, for example, quartz.

In Australia, we are developing large tracts of land, building major infrastructure road projects, mining, and have a love for stone benchtops in our homes. All of these activities expose workers to silica dust hazards. For this article, we take a look at Safe Work Australia’s National Guidance Material to outline silica dust hazards and provide some mitigation strategies. See one of our most read and best workplace safety articles for 2019, What You Can Do to Manage Silica Dust Hazards.

Critical Workplace Hazards That Can Kill

As a Safety or Training Manager, you do your best to train employees on hazard mitigation. You do what you can to make the work environment safe. Work areas are designed with safe workflows to segregate workers on foot from moving plant and equipment. There are posters and signs everywhere to remind workers about workplace hazards that can result in fatal injuries.

The safety hierarchy of controls has you working from the top to only rely on employees wearing PPE as a last resort. But when all is said and done, there are still workplace hazards that are missed. For this article, 8 Workplace Hazards That Can Kill, we discuss the eight most common workplace hazards that can kill or have the potential to result in a serious injury. We look at complacency and how to reinvigorate employee focus on workplace hazards. We also provide critical control measures for each of the eight hazards to guide in safe work practice.

personal protective equipment

Keep Your Employees Engaged and Interested in Safety Training

Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’ve been an employee for decades, you would have sat through safety training at some point in your career. When it comes to workplace safety two things are true for any business:

  1. all workplaces have hazards, and
  2. all staff need regular safety training.

There are a large number of ways that safety training can be delivered, some more interesting than others. providing the same ‘stock standard’ safety training will quickly lead to staff boredom, disengagement and complacency. Delivering a more meaningful and impactful training schedule is imperative to workplace safety. To help you keep your employees engaged in safety training, see our article, How to Engage Your Employees in Safety Training.

The level of interaction and engagement affects learner buy-in and changes to safety behaviour after the training. Good safety training is not just competency development; it encourages an emotional connection with the subject.

This is where Tap into Safety can help. The workplace safety training on the Tap into Safety Platform is highly engaging and is underpinned by sound adult learning principles. The training uses realistic panoramic scenes where employees engage and respond to hazards in the scenes to learn about effective safe behaviour.

Because the training requires decision-making from the employee, there is an emotional connection with the content. The training modules provide concise and relevant information, using simple text and concepts that are immediate and ‘to-the-point’.

Tap into Safety takes training seriously. We provide engaging methods to train how to manage workplace hazards using critical control measures. We understand that relevant and engaging safety training is crucial for the transfer of knowledge into practice. Contact Us for more information.

safe and productive

How Do You Keep Your Toolbox Talks Engaging?

Regular toolbox talks are an opportunity to bring together the team of workers to discuss safety requirements. Familiarisation of site safety is particularly crucial for less-experienced workers. When delivering safety toolbox talks, it is vital to consider the training delivery because it has a direct influence on its effectiveness.

For this article, we review research that compares the impact of delivering toolbox talks with and without questions and answers from the group. The study tests changes in the levels of safety knowledge and workplace safety climate. The results show that safety knowledge retention increases when we include narratives, discussion and questions in toolbox talks. For less-experienced workers, they are particularly impactful. However, the results also show that there is no significant change in workplace safety climate when we train using toolbox talks. See our article, Making Toolbox Talks Effective Safety Training.

Get Your Training Records in Order for Safety Compliance

Most organisations spend both time and money on ensuring their employees are sufficiently trained to meet safety compliance. But does your organisation keep accurate and useful training records that track ongoing evidence of competence?

In the case of a serious workplace incident or fatality, training records are imperative for a business to show it has met its compliance requirements. Earlier this year, we took a look at some information provided by the MyBusiness forum around employers legal responsibilities for safety compliance. In this article, we investigate how to protect your business in the event of a serious workplace incident or accident. We also look at the importance of training records to prove safety compliance. See one of our best workplace safety articles, How Critical Are Training Records in Proving Safety Compliance?

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