There is a phrase used in the Health and Safety at Work Act that is sometimes misunderstood;
“So far as reasonably practicable”
It applies to many duties under the Act, but what does it mean?
Practicable : means if it is possible or able to be carried out.
Reasonably: doesn’t mean doing everything humanly possible to manage a risk. It means doing what other businesses would reasonably do, in the same situation.
E.g. It would be reasonable to expect a business, where their workers use a disc grinder, to have the guard in place and operators to wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.
It may not be reasonable to expect workers on a construction site to assemble all framing at ground level, before fitting the framing in place, at height. (Obviously working at ground level, reduces the possibility of a fall)
Although all businesses have different risks, what every business needs to understand is;
1. What its work-related HS risks are (especially those that have the potential to cause serious injury)
2. The likelihood of the risk occurring (e.g. falling from height)
3. The degree of harm that could result (e.g. extremely serious)
4. The options to eliminate the risk or if not practicable to eliminate the risk, to minimise the risk (e.g. Carry out as much of the task as practicable at ground level, then use appropriate edge protection while working at height)
5. The associated cost
Note: Consideration of cost should only take precedence over safety when the cost is grossly out of proportion to the risk.
The basis for the above is a WorkSafe document, available through this link;
Don’t hesitate to be in touch to discuss further.
In the course of my health and safety work, I’m asked from time to time, “What sort of injury or event should be reported to WorkSafe?”
Meaning - how bad does it need to be, to report?!
To go back a step. Work related injuries or near misses (or health issues) need to be recorded, internally. It’s not just for the purposes of recording (or more paperwork!)
1) It’s to formally analyse what happened and why it happened and perhaps more importantly, “What we plan to do to prevent reoccurrence”.
This sort of investigation should be carried out impartially and without “blame”. In a small firm it would usually be the business owner or manager that carries it out.
2) It’s important to review incident and accident records on a regular basis. Is there a pattern emerging? E.g. Is the same event repeating? If so, it’s important to sort it.
So, at what level do I report it to WorkSafe?
There are some guidelines outlined on the WorkSafe website here. It outlines specific injuries, events, and health concerns.
This helps sum it up (from WorkSafe);
"All injuries or illnesses that require (or would usually require) a person to be admitted to hospital for immediate treatment are notifiable.
Admitted to a hospital means being admitted to hospital as an inpatient for any length of time – it doesn’t include being taken to the hospital for out-patient treatment by a hospital’s Emergency Department, or for corrective surgery at a later time, such as straightening a broken nose."
However, it’s important to read the webpage above (scroll down the page). There are circumstances where a person may not be admitted to hospital, that need to be reported.
Bottom line, if in doubt, report it. You can go online here and answer a few simple questions that will clarify if it needs to be reported, or not.
If you have a minute, go online now, and check it out. You will get a better idea.
The above is provided as a guide only. It’s not designed or intended to be specific advice. Please don’t hesitate to come back to us for specific advice
In the current climate, stress seems to be running high and with covid-related protocols, absences and mandates, some workplaces are running at beyond maximum capacity.
The topic of staff well-being can easily be put on the back burner with more pressing issues needing to be addressed. However, like any good health and safety controls, I’ve found this is a topic that is better addressed as a preventative measure rather than a reaction to an incident. It can save time and money and ultimately result in happier, healthier staff that remain loyal and give their best at work – doesn’t this sound like a dream?!
Check this out….
18 days annual sick leave
Self-rated performance of 3.7 out of 10
49 effective hours worked (full time) per month
2 days annual sick leave
Self-rated performance of 8.5 out of 10
143 effective hours worked (full time) per month
(taken from “A GUIDE TO PROMOTING HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN THE WORKPLACE” by Regional Public Health Wellington)
Did you get that last bit – that’s the difference of 94 effective hours worked in a month, that’s 1,128 a year!
Ok, so I’ve convinced you but now you’re thinking “how do I put this into place in my workplace?”
This quote is taken from the same resource;
“The level of control an employee feels over their work situation, the stress experienced and whether or not the employee feels valued in the workplace can affect work performance, absenteeism, workplace safety and staff turnover” (Department of Sport and Recreation et al., 2007).
Similar to the quote above, Worksafe NZ website breaks it down into three key concepts;
If you would like to look further at developing a plan around workplace well-being, feel free to get in touch or check out these resources below
(The Mentemia app is very good, it’s a free downloadable app to support wellbeing, could be recommended to staff or there is a paid option for businesses).
As a business owner you may need to complete a risk assessment regarding the spread of Covid19 and work completed by vaccinated or non-vaccinated employees.
The government will introduce a new risk assessment process under public health legislation later this year. In the interim, WorkSafe has provided a guideline to follow.
When reading the following, think about the various main tasks that your staff carry out. You may want to identify each main area. For example;
1) Workshop floor.
2) Front of house (serving customers)
3) Delivery or picking up of goods etc.
Of course these areas will be different for each business.
Guidelines from WorkSafe :
· How many people does the employee carrying out that work, come into contact with? (very few = lower risk; many = higher risk)
· How easy will it be to identify the people who the employee comes into contact with? (easy to identify, such as co-workers = lower risk; difficult to identify, such as unknown members of public = higher risk)
· How close is the employee carrying out the tasks in proximity to other people? (2 metres or more in an outdoor space = lower risk; close physical contact in an indoor environment = higher risk)
· How long does the work require the employee to be in that proximity to other people? (brief contact = lower risk; lengthy contact = higher risk)
· Does the work involve regular interaction with people considered at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as people with underlying health conditions? (little to none = lower risk; whole time = higher risk)
· What is the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission in the work environment when compared to the risk outside work? (equal to outside work = lower risk; higher than outside work = higher risk)
· Will the work continue to involve regular interaction with unknown people if the region is at a higher alert level? (no = lower risk; yes = higher risk).
Don't forget to record your results.
This needs to be completed in discussion with your employees and there may be other questions that need to be asked specific to your industry as well.
Some work is required to only be done by a vaccinated employee, more on this here
Further notes from WorkSafe :
· Employers can require work to be done by a vaccinated employee, if a risk assessment identifies this is necessary for work health and safety purposes.
· Your focus in the risk assessment must be on the role – the work being done – rather than the individual performing the role. If you want your employees to be vaccinated for reasons other than work health and safety that is an employment matter.
· Think about what the work tasks look like for a typical day or week. Identify the risk rating indicated alongside each risk factor. Where a situation is not black and white, a judgement call will need to be made. Advice from a health and safety professional may help you do that.
· If your risk ratings tend toward higher risk and you are not able to reduce that risk by implementing more controls, you and your employees should consider whether the work should be performed by a vaccinated employee.
Please read the full article here
If you need assistance in implementing this in your workplace, don't hesitate to contact me today!
You may be asking yourself should I be carrying out a Workplace Risk Assessment, due to Covid 19.
Simply, when any risk presents, an assessment should be carried out, including the possibility of Corona Virus in the workplace. We have a couple of templates that maybe useful to you. Flick me an email and I am more than happy to provide them for you.
Another question you maybe considering : “Should I carry out an assessment when non vaccinated employee’s may be working with vaccinated employees?”
Again we have information that you may find useful, let me know if this is a concern for you.
Finally, are you aware that the Resurgence Scheme is still open?
Extract from IRD website :A business or organisation must have experienced at least a 30% drop in revenue or a 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a 7-day period, due to the increased COVID-19 alert level.
Once activated, any business in New Zealand that has experienced a 30% drop in revenue over a 7 day period at the increased alert levels as a result of the alert level increase may be eligible (subject to all other criteria being met).
Full details here : https://www.ird.govt.nz/covid-19/business-and-organisations/resurgence-support-payment
Warm Regards for a safe month, bob
Risk ID is basic to effective safety in the workplace.
UNSURE ABOUT HOW TO APPROACH RISK ASSESSMENT?
The HAZARD is the threat to safety, Say a rotating gear, roller etc on a piece of equipment
The RISK is likely hood of an injury to a worker, (including the seriousness of the injury) if the worker comes in contact with the gear or roller while its turning
If there are no controls, most likely pretty high risk of serious injury.
The CONTROL is what I do to either eliminate or minimise risk
Risk ID can be carried out asking “What if” questions
What if someone tripped over that or fell off there?
What if that fell or burst or Leaked?
What if the hydraulics failed while someone was walking underneath?
What if a customers child wandered into the work area by themselves?
You can complete the exercise with your workers, as they need to be involved
Now enter your findings into your firm’s risk register (This register documents : hazards, risks controls) Make your findings part of your firms everyday safe operation
When deciding on controls use what’s called the hierarchy of controls
Go here for more information on the hierarchy of controls and how to use :
(This link is in relation to Hazardous Substances, but the same principles are used for any risk in the workplace
The above is general information only. Need help? Get the advice of a Qualified, Experienced Health and Safety Adviser here to edit.
I’m asked from time to time, “What sort of injury or event should be reported to WorkSafe.” Meaning : How bad does it need to be, to report.
To go back a step. Work related injuries or near misses (or health issues) need to be recorded, internally. Its not just for the purposes of recording. (More paperwork!)
1)It’s to formally analyse what happened and why it happened and perhaps more importantly, “What we plan to do to prevent reoccurrence”. This sort of investigation should be carried out impartially and without “blame”. In a small firm it would usually be the business owner or manager that carries it out.
2)It’s important to review incident and accident records on a regular basis. Is there a pattern emerging? eg Is the same event repeating? If so, it’s important to sort it.
So, at what level do I report it to WorkSafe? There are some guidelines outlined on the WorkSafe website here. It outlines specific injuries, events, and health concerns.
This helps sum it up (From WorkSafe)
All injuries or illnesses that require (or would usually require) a person to be admitted to hospital for immediate treatment are notifiable.
Admitted to a hospital means being admitted to hospital as an inpatient for any length of time – it doesn’t include being taken to the hospital for out-patient treatment by a hospital’s Emergency Department, or for corrective surgery at a later time, such as straightening a broken nose.
However, it’s important to read the webpage above. (Scroll down the page) There are circumstances where a person may not be admitted to hospital, that need to be reported.
Bottom line, if in doubt, report it. You can go online and answer a few simple questions that will clarify if it needs to be reported, or not. Here
If you have a minute, go online now, and check it out. You will get a better idea.
Health and Safety is not something you are thinking about constantly. There are so many pressures you face in a day, around staff, productivity, customer expectations, financial concerns, the list goes on.
However it is important to assess whether the safety (and health) controls you have in place are effective and being used by your staff.
1)ACT : Take action on lessons learnt
2)PLAN : Assess the risk and identify suitable control measure (Talk with staff about this. )
3)CHECK : Monitor the performance of the control measure. (This includes workers reporting incidents and accidents. These may well show an ineffective control)
4)DO : (implement control measures that effectively eliminate or minimise the risk)
WorkSafe point out that PPE should not be the first or only control. In other words, the risk needs to be reduced or eliminated by other means first.
Here’s the recognised method as outlined in the HS Regulations:
1)Eliminate the risk altogether. If not possible :
2)Substituting a safer method or piece of equipment for the job. (a simple example is using battery operated tools instead of 240v tools. There’s no chance of being electrocuted!)
3)Isolating the risk. This might be fencing off the area being worked on, or putting a noisy piece of kit away from the work area
4)Engineering controls. Eg redesigning the tool to include guards. Or even making sure guards are always used!
5)Administrative controls. Eg Safe methods of work. Rotating jobs to reduce boredom etc
6)PPE. Earplugs, Gloves, Safety glasses etc
Start at the top. Get as many controls as you can in the first five areas. Then “mop up” the residual risk with PPE
It’s important to check and test, on a regular basis, all equipment that’s being used to ensure safe operation.
I recommend an Equipment and PPE schedule. Go over your gear on a regular basis. Sign off the fact that you have checked it and the date this was carried out. Make a note of any maintenance that needs to be carried out and when you did that. Make a note of any PPE that needs to be replaced and when this was done.
It might just seem like extra paperwork, but a written record is not just proof of maintenance, it helps provide you with a routine around PPE and Servicing your Gear. It might be weekly, monthly or for some gear 3 monthly. It just becomes part of your routine.
If you haven’t a template that you can use and would like one, let me know. No charge.
Bob is passionate about good workplace Health and Safety. Hes experienced , qualified, easy to talk to and always available.