Safety comes first. And in the workplace, you can’t afford to be casual about it. Activities in the workplace involve machinery, tools, vehicles, the environment and most importantly, lives. That’s why you can’t take risks.
We hear a lot about workplace safety these days and for a good reason. As a business owner or contractor, it’s your responsibility to have adequate safety procedures in place.
Maybe you’ve heard of Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) and wondered what they are. Well, here’s a brief overview:
An SWMS is a document outlining the procedure that should be followed to safely perform a specific work-related task or operate a particular piece of machinery. Although they are predominantly used in high-risk construction industry situations, they are important for any workplace and should be an integral part of your workplace safety plan. They should outline all of the risks that are likely to be encountered when performing the procedure or task and detail measures that need to be put into place to control those risks.
In Australia, it is a law to have SWMSs for many high-risk construction activities. The statement is generally used as part of the company’s safety induction procedure.
Risk assessments are a critical part of any company’s safety plan. As the name suggests, a risk assessment is a methodical process of evaluating:
- hazards that have the potential to cause harm
- the scale of the risk associated with that hazard
- measures that can be put into place to control the hazard and limit the opportunity for harm
Essentially, it is a process through which managers can anticipate dangers and act ahead of time to prevent any accidents from occurring.
A risk assessment may be carried out by a physical walk-through of a factory or site, or by talking to employees or site managers.
Risk assessments are important because they help to create awareness of risks in the workplace and who may be affected by these risks, as well as clearly stating what preventative measures are to be taken to minimize these risks.
Regular physical checks with a simple checklist system will help you in maintaining a safe workplace environment. Of course, your checklist will be customized to suit your business activities. However, there are a few areas that should constantly be reviewed:
- Walkways/stairways - are they clear?
- Floor surfaces - are they free from water or other fluids?
- Lighting - are work areas well lit?
- goods storage - is it neat/tidy/organized/stored correctly?
- Equipment and tools - are they in good working order/all safety guards in place?
- Access to machines - is the area around the machines clear/easy access?
- Emergency procedures - are they clearly displayed?
- First aid station - is it well stocked, clean and easily accessible?
- Staff training - are all staff up to date with necessary safety training?
It is important that all safety checks and procedures are correctly documented. As well as fulfilling your moral obligation as a business owner, inattention to safety will cost you dearly if an accident in your workplace leads to a legal battle.
For more information about key metrics and insights into the warehousing industry. Read the 2018 report to discover how the industry is changing and the requirements for success in the upcoming years. WERC DC Measures 2018 Study.
Louise Procter is a writer for Preowned Forklifts Australia. Living on the sunny South Coast of NSW, Louise enjoys writing articles that have a strong emphasis on OH&S practices and loves sharing helpful tips on creating safe and effective workplaces.