• Why so gloomy?
    To frustrate , I view the majority of the causes on politics! Sorry for the long post too, I see the gloom across all sectors though

    The gloomy outlook revealed in this year's State of the Nation survey is similar across most industries and communities, signaling a perfect storm of factors both within and beyond the workplace. I see the main factors as a mix of poor governmental policies, a weakening global economy, and rapid societal changes through COVID.
    • Infrastructure and Governance: Over the past four decades, a lack of investment in essential infrastructure, combined with political parties prioritizing short-term, high-visibility projects, has led to a fragile infrastructure in dire need of overhaul.
    • Global Instability: Increasing global conflicts and the retreat of major powers from stabilizing roles have disrupted resource supply chains, creating significant economic imbalances.
    • Social and Cultural Shifts: The pandemic-induced shifts to remote working and learning have fostered a culture with minimal consequences for personal actions. This includes paid time off for "possible" sickness, extended breaks during work-from-home setups, and a lack of daily discipline in education, contributing to a generation with minimal personal discipline and respect.

    Proposed Solutions:
    • Policy Focus: Reorient government and council efforts towards core responsibilities, including the maintenance and upgrade of essential infrastructure, to ensure new developments are necessary and sustainable.
    • Economic Stability: Work towards economic stability and manage inflation by reducing spending across all sectors, ensuring that essential services and infrastructure are not compromised.
    • Education and Workforce Development: Increase emphasis on instilling discipline and respectfulness in educational settings, not through punishment but by building routine and personal accountability. This approach aims to bridge the social learning gaps and prepare a resilient workforce.

    In the context of Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS), the challenges are particularly pronounced during economic downturns. EHS teams are often not perceived as profit centers within companies; instead, their contributions are seen as merely cost-neutral at best. However, the real and substantial financial benefits of EHS initiatives are largely hidden. These benefits are realized indirectly through the prevention of costs related to ACC claims, Worksafe penalties, and a broad spectrum of health issues impacting employees both mentally and physically. Additionally, effective EHS practices contribute to reduced staff turnover, increasing employee experience and competence, increasing productivity and efficiency.

    Nevertheless, economic hardships complicate this scenario. As company revenues decline, there tends to be a reduction in Worksafe fines because of companies' decreased ability to pay. Simultaneously, as the job market floods with available workers, the readiness to replace staff who become sick or injured increases. This situation puts higher pressure on Health and Safety to justify their roles and demonstrate their value—not only in maintaining safety standards with reduced resources but also in the company's short-term financial situation.
  • Requirements for contractors

    For every project, the project engineer specifies the standards to be met, however, we commonly require the project engineer to state these specifics to meet the company standards. On projects where these have not been stated, such as small jobs or sites that engaged a local contractor, clauses are often missed as the contractor decides they are not needed because they normally don't do it.

    For the mechanical points, we want to set the minimum standard for our company, regardless of what the risk assessment states. They are all above what is required by the standards, which we specify must be met in the contract too. They are also relevant to incidents and near-misses that we recognized could have been prevented by implementing these controls.

    For the electrical, again, they are all above what is required by the standards. They are more workmanship-related than standards-related.

    For the safety electrical, the specific standards are stated in the contract, however, we have had instances where they have completed the work, provided the wiring diagram, and sent through the safety documentation about a week later, which doesn't meet the required Performance Level and Safety Cat Rating. We are trying to get that sorted before they start so we can reduce the machines being down for multiple fixes.

    The EHS team have their change management documents that cover off the completion side, this is to tackle the common engineering faults and issues before they occur.
  • SOP Reviews

    It's difficult to make suggestions without knowing more details of the sites and processes.

    A few general ideas to reduce the number of SOPs or the size/details are:
    1) Are there any identical or near-identical machines and/or processes? They could be lumped into one common SOP with a site-specific section for any unique differences
    2) As Robb mentioned, Safe vs Standard Operating Procedures. If there is common material handling across sites/processes (e.g. chemicals or tools or metal) a SOP for the material could be used with machine or task-specific SOP referencing the material SOP.
  • Falling Object Prevention
    I didn't find that one, I'll check it out.

    I agree 100% that strapping and wrapping the pallets would be the best solution however it's difficult to change the site culture on a dime. I'm arranging a pallet wrapper/strapper for the site to use and working with the supervisors to change the team process. I expect it to take ~12 months before we see a culture change.
  • Falling Object Prevention
    That's a concern also, we have impact barriers on the areas where it's likely the forklift will hit (corners, opposite aisles, vehicle doors, etc). The site space and layout limitations mean it's difficult to separate without a significant layout change which is unlikely to happen at this stage.
  • Restraint of Building Contents
    Hi Sandra,

    Just to clarify, do you mean the restraint of objects on the shelves or the restraint of the shelves themselves?

    The restraint of objects is likely unreasonable unless they are heavy, high, or inherently unsafe (chemicals, box of knives, etc).

    The restraint of the shelves themselves would be reasonable as they are likely of considerable weight and likely to crush someone of the were to fall.

    I'd be interested to know others views on this too.
  • Working at Height
    Bit late to the party but I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in anyway.

    The intent behind the rules and regulations around working at height is to prevent a person from falling a distance which will cause significant injury or death.

    Looking at what guidance there is for what is deemed a height where, if you were to fall, is likely to cause significant injury or death is 1000mm (based on the building code).

    At any height greater than 1000mm, some form of controls are required. Based on the hierarchy of controls, Eliminate is generally impossible, substituting is likely difficult to achieve, engineered controls like fixed barriers are the most common control, then it turns to PPE and administrative controls (harnesses, scaffolding, mobile work platform, PTW, JSEA,etc)

    While it is a broad coverall statement, if the level is greater than 1000mm, a means to prevent falling is required.
  • Should risk registers be signed off by workers?

    Funnily enough, that is a nice way of saying Safety 1 vs Safety 2. (Personally, I think neither is the best way to address safety. Some situations required firm direction for compliance; others required guidance to achieve conformity).
  • Should risk registers be signed off by workers?
    Most are unlikely to know what they're signing off so it's likely a tick box exercise. I find it's more important to include them in the discussion around what risks have been identified and controls developed. I normally record the names of staff I have talked to for the review.

    If there are residual risks that could be reduced further by engineering controls but for whatever reason the site doesn't want to, I ensure those risks and the additional soft controls are in the SOP. The operators read a simple half page on each risk, if there are any, then sign off they are aware and accepting the residual risk. I have have one instance where the operator didn't believe it was acceptable so he doesn't work on that machine.