How to better manage health and safety risks at work

How to better manage health and safety risks at work

The trades industry makes up nearly a third of Australia’s workforce, but there are massive risks in this line of work. Many tradies are expected to work in dangerous environments, use heavy machinery, and perform repetitive and physically demanding tasks. These conditions can lead to serious injuries that could have far-reaching consequences for your tradies’ lives. It’s precisely this reason why 58% of workers compensation claims come from tradies.

Injuries or illnesses that occur due to hazardous working conditions cause significant disruption to your business, too. It has adverse effects on employee morale, productivity, turnover, and your company’s reputation.

It’s therefore crucial to effectively manage work health and safety risks to protect the lives of your tradies. Here’s how you can do just that:

Identify potential hazards

Hazard identification is a critical element of managing work health and safety risks. This involves thoroughly inspecting job sites and work procedures for anything that can cause potential harm. Common hazards to watch out for include:

  • Slip, trip, and fall hazards
  • Fire, electrical, toxic, and flooding hazards
  • Unsafe work practices such as poor lifting technique
  • Poor equipment conditions and lack of regular maintenance
  • Potential exposure to infectious diseases, mould, and dangerous substances
  • Physical hazards like excessive noise, high temperatures, and radiation
  • Mental health hazards such as stress and anxiety

The best way to perform inspections and stay compliant is with job management apps like WorkBuddy. These come with the facility to configure and deliver workplace safety compliance forms that align with Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations. These can reinterpret Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) into electronic forms which can link back to a task the tradie is completing. The tradie will be prompted to complete the necessary checks and complete any required paperwork electronically prior to completing a job. This can be customised by the employer or contracting organisation via a powerful rules engine. For example, electricians won’t need to fill out an asbestos form since it’s not applicable to the job they’re doing. Instead, they only have to complete electrical safety and compliance forms like those associated with checking the insulation of equipment and wiring. This saves everyone time and money when it comes to identifying potential hazards.

Evaluate risks

It’s important to analyse the hazards you’ve identified and what incidents may occur if tradies are exposed to them. To accomplish this, you must evaluate the severity of harm that could result from each hazard. The severity of trip and fall hazards, for instance, can range from minor injuries to long-term damage or death.

Another thing to consider is the likelihood that harm will occur due to a particular hazard. If tradies are constantly working outside, the chances of dehydration, heat stroke, and even skin cancer are much higher. Even carrying heavy loads for long periods increases the rate of muscular strains, back problems, and other chronic injuries.

Once you understand the severity and likelihood of each hazard, you can develop the appropriate control measures. It also helps you prioritise which hazards to address first.

Implement health and safety controls 

The most important step in managing risks is employing control measures to minimise or eliminate them. Some problems like slipping and tripping hazards can be fixed right away with cord management, cleared-off surfaces, and warning signs. However, issues like falls, unsafe work practices, fires, chemical contamination, disease outbreaks, and natural disasters will require more planning to resolve.

In these cases, you’ll need to develop new work procedures and document how tasks should be performed to minimise risks. WorkBuddy allows you to upload safe work method statements and work health and safety manuals to guide tradespeople on the job.

To minimise the spread of infectious diseases in a job site, WorkBuddy’s compliance features can instruct staff to respect social distancing, wear masks, and wash their hands frequently. If heavy machinery and loads pose a problem, you can use the app to establish procedures on operating equipment safely, performing regular maintenance, and practising proper lifting techniques. WorkBuddy can even provide guidelines on the appropriate safety gear workers should wear before setting out to do a job.

Train workers 

It’s not enough to create procedures and assume everyone will follow it; you need to train workers on new procedures. Tradies must know how to work safely and avoid creating hazards that could endanger people’s lives. This could be as simple as teaching the importance of proper lifting techniques, applying sunscreen, and taking care of their mental and physical well-being.

Keep in mind that worker safety training should be an ongoing process. Constant supervision is especially vital when tradies are expected to follow new safety procedures and carry out high-risk tasks.

Make sure controls remain effective

Ensure the control measures’ efficacy by constantly reviewing them once they’ve been implemented. You need to regularly inspect job sites, work procedures, insurance, licenses, and certificates so everyone is adequately protected from risks.

WorkBuddy job management software can ensure your controls remain effective with streamlined compliance features. Everything from safety inspections to work procedures can be compiled in a simple to-do list your tradies can follow before starting a job. This way, everyone in the company knows how to do their part to minimise work health and safety risks.

Another useful feature of WorkBuddy is that it checks whether tradies’ licenses and insurance forms are valid and updated before they can begin work. This enables tradies to always be compliant with industry regulations and meet workplace standards. This feature also makes it easy for contractors who manage many different subcontractors. It lets them access and verify worker licences without having to physically meet the tradies or manage a ton of paperwork.

Book a demo to find out how WorkBuddy can help your trades business better manage risks. Our solution is intuitive, chock-full of features, and designed for a wide variety of tradies — including plumbers, construction workers, sparkies, and more.

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