Employee safety is a constant concern for Australian trades businesses. Due to the physically demanding nature of a tradie’s job, they face a heightened risk of injuries and fatal accidents. Falls and trips, traumatic joint injury, and long-term physical stress are the most common health risks in the industry.
When these health-related incidents occur, your business pays in time lost and workers’ compensation claims. According to Safe Work Australia, a serious injury can mean up to six working weeks of recovery and $13,000 in compensation. This is a hefty cost for businesses, which is why it’s important to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. Here are six useful tips to ensure your tradies are safe on-site.
Conduct thorough risk assessments
The first step to keeping workers safe is to evaluate the safety risk of job sites. This requires comprehensive inspections in which tradies identify hazardous conditions that increase the risk of injuries. The most common hazards tradies must check for include slip, trip, and fall hazards, fire and electrical risks, and exposure to dangerous chemical substances.
Job management software like WorkBuddy streamlines the risk assessment process with electronic compliance forms modelled after Australian Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). These forms can be customised and forwarded to tradies so they can make the necessary checks. Tradies dealing with steel erection work, for example, will be prompted to fill out compliance forms assessing the likelihood of falling from heights, accidents from falling objects, and electric shocks.
By knowing the particular hazards in your workplace, you’ll be able to take appropriate steps to reduce work-related incidents.
Implement employee safety work procedures
Reducing on-site risks means you’ll need to establish work procedures that uphold Australian safety standards. Generally, tradies must proactively clean workspaces, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and practise proper lifting form to avoid serious injuries. However, extra safety procedures will be required depending on the job. HVAC repair work, for instance, will naturally have different safety priorities compared to bricklaying.
The WorkBuddy app allows you to send custom SWMS forms and precautions that tradies must follow during a job. In the case of bricklaying, you can instruct employees to clear work surfaces, wear protective gloves, and avoid carrying heavy loads. Meanwhile, HVAC technicians should receive specific recommendations on managing electronics and containing potential chemical leaks.
Provide health and safety training
No matter what trade you’re in, you must provide adequate training to ensure tradies can carry out their jobs safely. Training should cover the fundamentals like workplace orientation, proper lifting technique, basic first aid, and safe use of tools. Coordinate emergency evacuation drills to prepare your tradies for fires, chemical spills, and other disasters.
The type of training tradies requires may even be different based on the nature of their job. If job sites are often near roads, it’s worth having employees take traffic management and control courses. Plus, newer tradies who work closely with plastics and other building materials will certainly need asbestos awareness and removal training. WorkBuddy offers a more systematic way to manage your workers’ safety training. It allows you to set training goals for all technicians and dispatch the most qualified to the right jobs.
Once you’ve cemented training plans, it’s crucial to conduct regular refresher training and safety meetings. This ensures your workers don’t get complacent with safety procedures and make dangerous mistakes.
Perform regular equipment maintenance
Faulty equipment could potentially contribute to hazardous situations, so it’s in your best interest to conduct routine maintenance and repairs. To do this efficiently, take an inventory of all tools and equipment and note when they were last maintained.
Then, remind your tradies to check their equipment during every job to make sure they’re suitable for the task. You can use job management software to send these reminders and provide an intuitive platform to report faulty equipment.
As for heavy machinery, make sure those carrying out maintenance have the right skills and experience to do so. Trained construction workers must regularly clean equipment, check lubrication and fluid levels, and replace old parts. Also, when carrying out maintenance for heavy-duty equipment, don’t forget to secure the area. You should attach warning cards to machinery or lock them off so people don’t use them as they’re undergoing maintenance. With WorkBuddy, you can create customised to-do lists that tradies must complete on the job to ensure these maintenance procedures are followed.
Create clear lines of communication
Having clear communications enables you to keep tradies up to date on safety protocols and workflows. At the same time, it makes it easy for tradies to coordinate activities and report workplace risks to headquarters. However, to promote open dialogue, you’ll need the right tools and applications.
For starters, equip tradies with company-authorised tablets or smartphones so they can contact managers for emergencies and receive safety updates. Installing digital signage can be incredibly helpful for delivering daily advisories and warnings, especially in areas where there’s no reception. Finally, WorkBuddy’s mobile app comes with subcontractor portals that bridge the gap between contractors and tradies. It provides tradies with a platform to voice their concerns and for managers to set expectations on workplace safety practices.
Practice accountability and recognise positive behaviour
Employee engagement is another important aspect of establishing a safe working environment. If you have workers who are up to date on their training, wear protective equipment, and proactively report health hazards, reward them accordingly. This can be as simple as making a company-wide announcement acknowledging their efforts to set an example to other workers.
More importantly, make sure to provide feedback to those who ignore critical safety practices. WorkBuddy has built-in operational dashboards that allow you to monitor everyone’s compliance with safety practices. This way, you can identify poor performing tradies and correct their behaviour regarding workplace safety with additional training seminars.
Maintaining a safe workplace for tradies poses many challenges for trades businesses, but it’s much simpler to achieve, thanks to advanced job management software. With WorkBuddy, you can deploy a multitude of strategies that keep your employees safe and productive. Request a free demo today to learn more about our wide range of safety and compliance features.