The first 100 days of HSWA

5th July, 2016

We’re now 100 days into a new law that impacts how we should be doing safety at work.

Despite all the scaremongering, doomsday prophets and dodgy Health and Safety consultants trying to make a quick buck, no-one’s been locked up, business is still running, and we face the reality that everyday people are still getting seriously hurt at work.

Most prosecutions that we’re seeing are being taken under the old legislation, which is an interesting trend. (See recent press releases from WorkSafe for more on this.) In general, fines are larger than in the past. What this shows when you read the details is that many businesses have got a pretty sub-standard approach to looking after their staff.

Time to shift your safety thinking?

We’ve noticed a real shift in small businesses awareness around doing more to look after their staff, but most are still pretty slow to change.

There are three areas that we see people getting stuck:

  1. Where do I start? It all seems like too big a job.
  2. How can I get my staff to care? Getting buried under a pile of H&S paperwork is a real concern.
  3. Realising that H&S is a journey and not an event.

1. Where do I start?

With all the talk about health and safety, many business owner are still unclear on where to start.

A simple place to start is to talk with your staff about the risks of the work openly and honestly. It allows some great conversations to happen, and you could be surprised at the results.

For those that need some help to start the conversation, WorkSafe has developed some cheesy, but very effective, “icebreakers” below that are fantastic discussion starters for your team:

  • Managing Risk
  • What is Reasonably Practicable
  • Primary Duty of Care
  • Worker Duties
  • Worker Participation
  • Upstream Businesses
  • Overlapping Duties

2. How to get staff to care

Engaging staff is not only a good idea, you’re breaking the law if you don’t!

Gone are the days when you could tell someone to take a concrete pill and harden up.  In fact, it’s precisely that attitude that has been bred in many Kiwi organisations, and if it’s been your approach it takes time to change.

We’ve found that getting staff to tell you when things seem a little too risky or when they hurt themselves goes a long way to helping them know that you care about their safety.

When you respond to their risky stories by changing a process, getting some safety gear, or simply making the rules clear to everyone, staff will begin to understand that you care, and with any luck, they might as well.

3. It’s a journey, not an event 

Keeping healthy and safe isn’t an event – it’s a journey.

Each day we all face risks where we must choose how we will deal with the risk. Millions of dollars are spent each year on campaigns about drink driving, distracted driving and reducing our speed while driving. All aimed at making our roads safer, we also must also continually look at ways we can keep working safely and keeping healthy front of mind.

Accept that things aren’t going to be perfect. Don’t let people get away with wielding the Health and Safety stick. Make sure that when things go wrong, or people aren’t quite getting it right, you encourage them to get it right next time. It’s also important that as leaders you follow the safe way, too!

If you think you’ve got health and safety sorted, but haven’t learned something new recently you’ve probably got blinkers on. Abraham Lincoln put it wisely when he said:  “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

The ‘C’ Word

At PeopleSafe we talk a lot about the C word: culture. Building culture that involves people so they want to be part of the journey of making work safer.  If you take the three tips above and just get started, you’ll be amazed at the difference you can make.

Download our free guide on 5 Core Safety Habits to help keep your workers safe