workplace safety themes

As 2020 draws to a close we look at the workplace safety themes that are of most interest to our readership. This article provides a brief summary of each article and a link back to the original. Some are articles we published this year, and others in previous years. This list of workplace safety themes is useful in providing a well-rounded discussion to help you to keep your people safe.

1. Top Workplace Hazards in the Construction Industry

Managing workplace hazards in the construction industry is a top priority every day because the working environment constantly changes.  There are often many different contractors working alongside each other and injuries remain high.

There are three main causes of fatalities due to workplace hazards in the construction industry. They are working at height, the interaction between people and moving mobile plant, and working and coming into contact with electricity. There are three leading causes of injuries due to workplace hazards in the construction industry. They are manual handling injuries, falls, slips and trips, and being hit by moving objects.

The workplace safety theme of hazards in the construction industry is discussed in our article, along with statistics from Safe Work Australia.

2. Understanding the Hierarchy of Controls

The hierarchy of controls is a risk management tool used around the world to manage workplace hazards. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) use the following flow:

  • Elimination – Physically remove the hazard
  • Substitution – Replace the hazard
  • Engineering controls – Isolate people from the hazard
  • Administrative controls – Change the way people work
  • Personal protective equipment– Protect the worker with PPE

In Australia, Safe Work Australia includes an additional high-level action of:

  • Isolation – whereby we isolate the hazard from people

The Isolation control follows after Elimination and Substitution control measures have been exhausted or ruled out as impractical.

And Engineering Controls are defined as a physical control measure, including a mechanical device or process.

The control methods at the top of the pyramid are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. For this article, we examine the hierarchy of controls as a critical workplace safety theme to discuss how you can use it to control workplace hazards and prevent injury in your business.

Take a look at the Tap into Safety training on the Hierarchy of Controls. The course unpicks the levels of the hierarchy pyramid and provides practical examples of each stage.

3. Your WHS Frequently Asked Questions Answered

This article details who is responsible for work health and safety in your workplace. This workplace safety theme is important to help you understand your health and safety obligations and duty of care. Using the SafeWork Australia guidelines, we have put together some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive to help you better understand your responsibilities and some strategies you can use.

We discuss your responsibilities for workplace health and safety and how you can continue to prove safety compliance. The article also provides a great definition for both a risk and a hazard, that we invite you to use.

4. Making your WHS Reporting Relevant to Different Audiences

One of the key deliverables for safety professionals is providing accurate and useful reporting on monthly safety performance to employees, managers, boards and outside of your organisation. But what should you include in these reports?

Safe Work Australia has a detailed publication that provides some example templates. For this article, we distil down to the key points. For this workplace safety theme, we provide a summary of the WHS reporting you need to send to your employees, management, your board of directors and to others outside of your organisation.

5. Providing Training Records to Meet Compliance

Organisations spend time and money training employees to meet safety compliance requirements, but how many keep accurate training records? The answer to this question is very important if a serious incident or workplace fatality occurs. Especially if that event leads to a court case or a hearing in the coroner’s court.

This article discusses the workplace safety theme of keeping accurate and up-to-date training records. Employers must ensure that they’ve taken all reasonably practicable steps to provide a safe workplace.

The issue of proof of continued competence and that your employees understand critical risks and how to control them comes to the fore in the event that you have a serious workplace injury or fatality. If an employee actively flouts established procedures and an incident or other possible breach occurs, then the employer may have a defensible position if it provided and maintained safe plant and systems of work. The employer must also have provided the relevant employees with the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to enable those employees to perform their work safely, and without risks to health.

The importance of training records to demonstrate the information, instruction and training provided to the relevant employees, cannot be understated.

6. Preventing Fall From Height Risks

Our final most popular workplace safety theme was preventing fall from height risks. Working at heights comes with it considerable risks where a fall from height is very possible.

Industries such as construction, mining, oil and gas and manufacturing all have the need for workers to conduct work at height. Many tasks at height are unavoidable and workplace design is paramount to providing a safe work environment. Relying on fall protection should be the last line in preventing a fall from height.

For this article, we take a look at fall from height from a risk management perspective: hazards, control measures and residual risk. We review the Australian Code of Practice: Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces to help understand the risks and provide strategies to mitigate or reduce the risk of a fall from height.

The Tap into Safety Training Platform has 70 online and mobile-friendly training courses and many cover working at height risks. We specialise in blue-collar training. The Platform is supported by granular reports that identify gaps in employee understanding of critical risks and the control measures that they need to use to keep themselves and others safe.

This article is also available as a podcast on the Tap into Safety Podcast, along with 15 other topics that might interest you.

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