“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice reduces the imperfection.”
Across the world, one uncomfortable but true fact is that in many firms, health and safety isn’t a top concern. This isn’t because they don’t care about their staff. They simply place such concerns low on the list of goals and targets. The general mindset is that as long as nothing goes wrong and with the ‘bare minimum’ in place, they’ll ‘get by’.
Turning a blind eye to hazards and risk assessment doesn’t mean they will go away.
On the contrary, the longer a hazard is avoided, the greater the chance of an accident occurring. One reason firms do this is to avoid, what they guesstimate to be the large bill associated with improving health and safety issues.
USING ALARP or SFAIRP.
To avoid firms using such claims as an excuse not to do anything, the HSE drew up a guide to help staff make sensible decisions. It uses the concept of ALARP, meaning “as low as reasonably practicable”, (or SFAIRP meaning “so far as is reasonably practicable”) to help assess/weigh up a risk against what it would cost to control it. By doing this, the protocol describes to what extent risks should be controlled.
As ALARP is fundamental to the safety of the whole organisation, it is important that everyone knows about it. Yet, it is from this point that managers and supervisors start to lose interest.
One way to get around this mindset is to make company safety standards one of the measures of business success. Rather than seeing implementation as a time-wasting exercise, if managers are trained to see it as a time, AND a cost-saving one, they are more likely to buy into it.
Treated like sales, health and safety trends will be monitored, the frequency of occurrence will be measured and targets will be set. But as long as firms put sales before safety standards, most workplaces will continue to set themselves up for accidents. Avoiding what needs to be done is only a recipe for accidents to occur and employees to get injured.
Managing safety is a function of a 3 step process: Find the hazard, asses the risk, and fix the problem. This may seem straightforward; at least by using ALARP, we can tell just how much effort must be done to mitigate risks, right?
Not all the time. The scale of the task becomes obvious when you realise that almost ANYTHING can become a hazard. For example:
- the power cable that runs across a doorway becomes a trip hazard.
- the oil spill in the corner of the warehouse that nobody cleaned up, is a potential slip hazard and chemical hazard.
- the racking that was bumped into and never reported is a potential collapse hazard.
- the gas canisters with leaking gauges that haven’t been replaced can become a fire hazard.
Up to 90% of all accidents can be prevented; after all that’s the amount of accidents attributed to human error of some kind. Someone saw it or caused it but nobody reported it. The fear of job loss or a reprimand shouldn’t deter employees from reporting any hazards they see or cause. The sooner the organisation is treated as a learning organisation, with staff learning from their mistakes, the better for everyone.
CREATING GENERAL & CUSTOM CHECKLISTS.
Initial training is mandatory for all staff – temporary or permanent. But over time, people get complacent. To counteract this, a custom checklist MUST be drawn up for all sections of the workplace. It should address potential hazards and how to handle risks in their sections. It’s main function is to serve as a constant reminder of what must be done to avoid accidents.
General items for all sections include knowledge of quick site evacuation procedure, accident and near-miss reporting, basic manual handling etc. These should form part of every employees initial induction.
For those that will be working with specific machinery, custom checklists must be handed out. In the case of a typical warehouse, the following are some of the items that must be checked off and signed by the employee working there:
- Are they trained, competent, and sober?
- Is there any active supervision of driver behaviour?
- Do external drivers know the safety rules at your depot?
Regarding Traffic Routes:
- Are there systems in place to keep vehicles & pedestrians separated?
- Are the warning signs located around traffic routes visible and clear?
- Are doors kept securely shut when not in use?
Around Work Equipment:
- Are there fixed guards around moving parts?
- Is the emergency stop button operative and easily accessible?
- Is the area around the machine unobstructed at all times?
These are basic rules governing forklift drivers, pickers, visitors etc. All businesses must draw up a checklist covering risks and hazards peculiar to its industry. Like the opening quote implies, checking these elements regularly, (and having staff sign off on them) can improve overall safety by acting as a constant reminder. But in the end, a checklist only represents a means to an end; the end being a zero occurrence of accidents in the workplace.
SRL Limited is a leading supplier of security, shop front grilles, bi fold patio doors and more. Security and safety are two things that we are passionate about. Contact us today and let’s discuss how we can help your business.