Follow these steps to identify simple ways to improve safety for your workers. They will help you make long-term, sustainable improvements to safety in your workplace.
1. Find the hazards in your workplace
The first thing you need to do is to find the hazards in your workplace. That is, find anything with the potential to cause harm. Some hazards will be obvious because they'll be common to your industry, but others won't be.
Start by talking. It's a legal requirement that safety is discussed in workplaces, and you gain great insights into safety issues and solutions from your workers. Regular meetings, such as tool box talks, production meetings, team meetings and face-to-face discussions, can be good opportunities to discuss health and safety.
Working closely with your workers, look at every task in your workplace to find potential hazards.
Not all injuries are immediately obvious. Some are only discovered over time, such as illnesses caused by long-term exposure to certain chemicals. Consider whether these are a hazard in your workplace.
Look at common hazards and risks in your industry and health and safety topic areas that affect your work. For example, hazardous manual handling, chemicals, bullying, occupational violence, stress, falls.
Go through any injury records you have. If you don't currently have a register of injuries, start one now - it's legally required that you keep one. You'll be able to see if any problem areas exist, or if any patterns are emerging.
2. Assess the risks
After you've made your list of possible hazards, you need to make a judgment about the seriousness of each hazard and decide which hazard requires the most urgent attention.
Take a close look at each item on your list. What could happen if things go wrong? Are we talking about scratches and bruises, or could someone be seriously injured or even killed?
Is it an everyday thing, or something that only comes up now and then, giving you more time to find a solution? Are there things you can do right now, as a short-term fix, while you work out a permanent solution?
Once you've worked out which issues have the greatest potential to cause injury or disease, or are a risk to public safety, mark them as your high priority issues. After that, rank them in order from highest to lowest priority.
Regularly review and update your list. You and your workers need to continually monitor every aspect of your workplace and make sure any potential new hazards are immediately identified.
3. Fix the problems
When you've worked out which safety issues are most urgent, you need to start immediately on the most important step of all - fixing the problems.
Your first aim should be to totally remove the problem. For example, if the issue is a hazardous chemical, try to find a safe alternative to the chemical. If there is a slipping or tripping hazard in your workplace, see if it can be removed. If a task is dangerous, look for different ways to complete the task.
If it's not possible to totally remove a hazard, you need to find ways to control it. You might have to change the way certain jobs are done, change work procedures, or perhaps give employees protective equipment.
You'll often find there are simple solutions to many of the risks in your workplace. Most of them will be low cost, and some will cost nothing at all. Of course, sometimes there are no simple solutions.
Check our publications, alerts and guidance notes for your industry or topic and see if there's a solution to the problem.
Get help from associations or groups that are related to your particular industry. They might have come across a similar problem before and found a way to fix it.
Talk to other people in your industry to see how they've handled similar problems.
Once you've put processes in place to manage risks, you need to check on them regularly to make sure they're working.