Safety Representatives

Hi All,

Today I want to take you through a safety representatives roles and responsibilities. When ever I train the one consistant question that always comes up is, Am I going to get paid extra for being a safety rep? First things first the answer is no but some companies that have a lot of incidents tend to give performance bonuses if incidents are considerably reduced.

The responsibility of a safety representative does not differ from a general staff member. What the law states is that every person in the workplace has a responsibility to keep themselves and everyone else safe where reasonably practicable. Therefore everyone is expected to report unsafe conditions, addtional risks and unsafe acts.

Where the safety representative is different, is that they have been elected to represent the workforce when dealing with safety issues.

A safety representative shall be trained and once trained will have certain roles that need to be carried out. These roles include the following:

Carrying out safety checks – Area safety checks are to be done in order to ensure that the evacuation routes and doors are free from obstruction and are ready for use. The are checks are also done to try and identify any additional risks that may exist since the initial safety audit and risk assessment.

Carrying out safety equiupment checks – Equipment shall be checked to ensure that the equipment is still compliant and easily accessible.

Attending monthly safey meetings – Monthly safety meetings shall take place and the safety representatives need to be there. this will be the platform for them to voice safety concerns and to contribute to minimise the risk that exists.

reporting incidents and carrying out investigations – Once an incident occurs the incident needs to be reported in order for the correct process to take place. Once the incident has been reported the incident needs to be investigated. thie investigation will include all the details of the incident include all of the activities leading up to the incident

This report will assist in reducing this incident from occuring in the future.

If you have any questions regarding safety representatives or any other safety issues please feel free to contact me via this blog or my email address in the contact us section of this website.

All the best

Guy

Fire safety

Hi Everyone,

Today we look at fire safety once the fire extinguishing equipment is installed and compliant. This would include training and prevention of fire hazards.

To provide the correct training a lot ofthought needs to be put into what hazards exist in the workplace and what training would be best suited for your work environment. Depending on the liklihood of a fire occuring more staff are to be trained and the safety measures are to be intensified.

As prevention is better than cure, it would be hugely benificial to firstly train staff on early warning signs and hazard identification. When dealing with fire there are often warning signs before a desaster strikes. By knowing what the warning signs could be, could prevent a disaster from occuring and save property, equipment and lives.

Depending on the equipment and working environment that you work in the warning signs may vary. With any type of electrically powered equipment you shold always look out for damaged or exposed wires. These could cause sparks and a dangerous electric charge which could result in a fire.

Burnt plug points and light fittings are a sign that there is too much heat being produced and that something needs to be changed in order to prevent a fire from starting. It is recommended that every three months plugs are taken out of the socket to check for burns. I find it easier to do a third of the plug points each month to ensure that the time spent on safety is manageable.

Light fittings will flicker if there is a problem, this could just mean that the globe is ready to be changed but it also could be a sign of a fault. In this situation you should change the globe and see if the flickering continues, if so an electrician should be called to check out the electrics.

As heat is essential for a fire to exist, staff shall be aware of any unnecessary heat that is being created. Heat can cause a fire in a few different ways. If there is a build up of combustibles close to a heat source a fire can break out and spread throughout the workplace.

If there is excessive heat around any flammable liquids or gasses, fumes will be created and this can cause a fire or an explosion. The first form of defense is cooling, so be sure to hav cooling systems in storage areas and planned maintenance for the equipment to avoid heat build up due to equipment defects.

ousekeeoing is imperitive in keeping a fire hazard to a minimum. Try to avoid build up of combustibles, dust and incorrect storage. By being on top of these issues your fire risks are decreased byconsiderable amount.

Spills of fluid could cause a major fire, staff members shall check storage canisters regularly to ensure that know leaks exist. If any leaks are found they should be cleaned up immidiately and the storage container shall be fixed.

Staff members shall be trained on how a fire is created, how to investigate a potential fire and how to extinguish a fire. This will assist in a fire being prevented, but as fire can still occur when all of the precautions have been taken it is important to safeguard yourself for the event of a fire.

By training the staff on how to investigate a fire emergency they are able to assess the situation and see if it is possible and safe to eqtinguish the fire. If it is not safe to extinguish the fire then they are able to initiate the evacution process.

If the fire is at a stage where it is possible to extinguish, trained staff can put out the fire and save the company from a devastating fate and can prevent any fatalities from occuring.

Thank you for reading, please feel free to contact me if you require any assistance with safety compliance.

All the best

Guy

Fire extinguishing equipment

Hi Everyone, I hope that you are all doing well.

When looking at protecting your staff and your company from fire, your fire fighting equipment is your first point of compliance. You need to ensure that your equipment is correct for the type of fire emergencies that can occur in the workplace as well as ensuring that you have enaough fire equipment.To ensure compliance and maximum safeguarding of your company the following needs to be carried out.

A safety audit needs to be conducted, this will look at the types of fires that can occur in the workplace. By knowing this, you are able to equip yourself with the correct fire fighting equipment to suit your company.

The audit will also look at the size and layout of the building. With this information you will know the minimum amount of fire extinguishers and hose reels that are required on the premises to be compliant. Remember that the appropriate signage shall be installed along with the equipment. The signage shall point out the location of the fire fighting equipment to assist staff in the event of an emergency.

Once the correct equipment is installed there are continuous checks and services that need to be carried out to maintain the compliance of the equipment. Monthly checks shall be done to ensure that the equipment is still in the correct place, the pressure is correct, there are no visible damages and the service date has not been passed.

A service should be carried out once a year by a competent and qualified company. A compliance service sertificate and an equipment register shall be provided.

It is important to remember to keep the signs and equipment free from obstruction and visible at all times. By doing all of the above mentioned the equipment will be ready for use in the event of a fire emergency and the premises will be continuously compliant.

It is also legally expected and a good practice to train staff members in fire fighting and hazard identification. This will add an extra safety measure to your workplace.

Thanks for reading, Think safe

Guy

Safety in the workplace

Hi All, Compliments of the season and I hope that you had a safe and joyful festive season.

The start of 2013 has been an interesting one. I have found that businesses are keen to become compliant and minimize hazards in the workplace.

If any business owners or managers are interested in following the correct safety process to becoming compliant please follow the steps given below:

A safety audit and risk assessment needs to be carried out. the Safety audit will check the building structure such as evacuation routes, lighting and fire safety equipment. The audit will reveal if the structure and sites equipment are sufficient or if upgrading is necessary. A safety audit should be performed once a year and this can be done internally by a competent person.

The risk assessment looks at all of the activities in the work place and the risks associated with them. The risk assessment shall look at what safety measures should be in place to sufficiently protect the workforce.

Once the Safety audit and risk assessment is completed a safety file shall be created. The safety file will form the base of your safety system and will hold all of your written safety information. The safety file will consist of your safety appointments, the appontments would consist of your fire marshals, safety representatives etc. All of the relevent safety regulations and company SHE plans are to be kept in the file and access to this information shall be granted to anyone who is interested.

Evacuation plans and procedures are to be draw up and kept in the safety file. All of the safety checks, incident reports and master documents are to be kept in the safety file for when you need ot. Once the forms are used and filled out they shall be placed in the safety file as evidence of checks actually being done and of all findings.

Once the safety file is complete training shall be provided to the appointed safety staff. Training shall be provided in fire safety, evacuation procedures, safety representative duties and responsibilities, identifying safety hazards and first aid. Along with the training all of the findings of the risk assessment and the evacuation procedures shall be communicated to all staff.

Once all of the above is completed you and your staff are expected to carry out the following monthly and yearly practices in order to keep compliant. Your safety equipmen shall be checked monthly to ensure that it is still there and that it is unobstructed and compliant.

There should be area and safety checks done to ensure that the evacuations routes are clear, the housekeeping has been done correctrly and lighting and ventilation is still as it should be. A monthly safety meeting shall be held to discuss all findings, concerns and corrective measures.

The fire safety equipment shall be serviced every 12 months. there should be a service sticker on the equipment stating when the last servicee was carred out and when the next service shall be conducted.

A fire drill shall be done a minimum of once a year but in some industries it is recommended to be carried out every six months.

By following all of the above steps you are ensuring that your company is compliant, the risks in your workplace will be reduced and staff will be trained and prepared for the event of an emergency situation.

For any questions or further assistence please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact details supplied on our website.

All the best

Thinks safety

Guy

Safety Procedures and instructions

Hi Everyone,

My topic today is inspired by the last few training sessions I have given combined with the follow up fire and evacuation drill that we facilitated.

What I have found to be the difference between the good and great training sessions have been the the companies that have really put effort into their safe work instructions and procedures.

When looking at an effective safety system each step needs to link correctly with one another and then communicated and trained to the correct number of staff members. With this in mind one of the last steps before training is creating your safe work procedures and safe working instructions.

Being done correctly the procedures and instructions take into account all of the information you have collected, your risk assessments, your safety audits and the activities that are undertaken every day.

The safe work procedures and the safe work instructions are then created with one goal in mind and it is:

Carrying out an activity in the same way every time you do the activity ensuring the same outcome. The outcome is a safe and correct one.

when I have carried out the training on great procedures and instructions the follow up emergency fire drills have been effective and fluent, with the staff confident in the steps they were taking.

Thanks for your time

 

All the best

 

Guy

 

Safety files

Hi Everyone,

A few of my customers have had a lot more hazard prevention material in place than they had realised but did not have it formally together. Therfore they were not able to utilize the information correctly.

As an example quite a few customers have safe work procedures in place if they are working with machinery and chemicals. The information will be there on site but as a result of not having a safety file you are unable to locate the information and inturn educate the staff on the hazards.

So I am talking about creating a safety file, I have already gone through above why a safety file is necessary and helps you to locate safety procedures and other safety documents. Now I am going to breakdown how you could go about starting a safety file and what you should look to put in the safety file. Please be aware that some of the documents will need to be drawn up specifically for the site and what the requirements are while other documents may be standard for any work environment.

When creating a safety file I like to put in in the order below:

1) I usually have an index breaking down the sections and a list of what could be found in this section. This is important as the law states that the system shall be easy to follow and find information that is required by yourselves, staff and the authorities.

2) In the first section I normally have the necessary acts OSH act and COID act along with the labour laws. This is done as it is necessary for you to have the laws displayed or kept somewhere accessible to anyone entering the premises.

3) The companies Safety objectives and policies need to be drawn up and filed. This is important as it shows thout into what you require and actions you are looking to take to safeguard your employees and the company assets.

4) I generally put the roles and responsibilities next. This shall stipulate who does what in different situations as well as giving each individual the correct knowledge of their responsibility.

5) The risk assessments and safety audits should generally follow. This is the basis to all the information that follows. The safety audit shall give you answers as to how many extinguishers you need and safety signage, where should the equipment go and what are the hazards created by the work environment and structure. The risk assessment shall answer what risks and hazards are associated with the activities in the office and will offer safeguarding options for each. An initial external assessment of each is necessary and you may be ably to continue developement within the company.

6) From the findings of the risk assessment you shall have written work procedures and safe work instructions. the purpose of these is to ensure once staff are trained that they carry out dangerous tasks following the same steps and as a result limiting incidents.

7) Emergency procedures are drawn up after doing the safety audit. This looks at effective evacuation routes to follow and procedures to follow to allow a safe and effective evacuation. This will also include procedures of investigationa dna mitigating a fire.

8) Master appointment letters. In any safety system certain safety appointments need to be done. be sure to keep a master copy of all appointment you may need on site.

9) Master documents of inspection sheets and checklists. This is to be copied and used monthly to maintain your compliance.

10) Masters of the incident investigation, assessment and action forms. These shall be filled out for any incident even the incidents that do not end up causing an injury.

11) Compliance certificates and service level agreements. By keeping these on record and filed it is easier to keep ontop of maintenance and servicing. This also can be used and forcing a contractor to stick to their agreements.

12) All of the appointment letters and training records are to be kept. Each one of these forms shall have an end date to the appointment or validity of the training.

13) The final section will have all of the filled in monthly safety forms and checklists along with the minutes of any meetings. I generally like to split the final section into JAN-DEC. This makes it easy to track something by date as well as track an incident or process fro, start to finish.

Thank you for reading and once again I hope that you have found the article most helpful. Please feel free to give me feedback on any of the topics I have addressed as I am looking to benifit you as the reader and your imput can assist in making that possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information or assistance.

Thank Safely

All the best

Guy

When are you Safety compliant

Hi Everyone,

In the last few weeks I have had a lot of contact with current and potential customers. During this time I have shaken my head in frustration and been dissappointed with certain safety reactions.

The frustration and dissappointment came in as I was surprised that the various people I had been dealing with did not see the validity and necessity of increasing safety awareness in the workplaces that they are apart of.

This got me thinking about when being compliant on paper is not enough. What I mean by this is that you have complied to the OHS laws and created procedures, appointed safety reps and have all of the correct serviced safety equipment. By having all of this you may be considered to be compliant but without applying all of the procedures in the safety system and communicating to and training your staff the system is a failure.

The only systems that I have seen work effectively and protect the company as it was intended to, is the systems that the management are active in the system and passionate about results. This means educating and involving as many employees as possible in safety, Encouraging all of the workers to look out for each other and explaining all of the risks they will face in their job.

Communication along with action is the key to a safe work environment.
Continue to improve and assess your safety situation as employees change, new buildings get older and remodelling takes place.

Improving and assessing your current situation can be done within the company as long as the ground work was done correctly. I always try and set up a safety system and leave having given the correct tools to the staff to maintain a compliant premises themselves but letting them know I am available to problem solve any issues.

Hold workshops, toolbox talks, and fire drills to keep the staff thinking of safety and the procedures to follow.

Please contact me if you require any assistance with improving or creating a safety system.

Thanks for reading and please think safely

All the best

Guy

The safety questions

Hi Everyone,

I have been asked the basic questions of safety many times. Let me take you through my Why’s, What’s, When’s, Where’s, Who’s and How’s of safety.

Why – is safety so important? Because we are dealing with people and their lives safety should be our number one priority.

Why are there safety lawa that we must comply to? There are safety laws to guide us through the correct practices to minimize risk and injuries. These laws have been written and followed all over the world and are continuously adapted as technology and hazards develope.

Why do I need a safety system if I have the correct equipment? A safety system done correctly ensures that staff know how to use the equipment. The system also aids in early detection of hazards highlighting warning signs, missing equipment and bad housekeeping. By being ontop of safety in the workplace you are well equipped to handle an emergency with minimal problems.

What – diffirence is it being prepared? It is the notion of most people that when an emergency like a fire shall occur that most people will naturally just run outside and be safe from the fire. Unfortunitely it is not that simple when simulating an emergency to facilitate a fire drill, this is in a calm controlled setting a lot of people still anic and are unsure what to do. That is where being prepared is priceless, trained staff take charge of the situation and guide their peers away from the danger and towards the safe exit.

What is needed to evacuate effectively? Well each set up is different so different means shall be used but the principal of what is needed remains the same. You will need safety equipment – fire extinguishers, safety signage, first aid kits, this is to aid in assisting with the pathway, protecting staff from fires and assisting with injuries on site. Trained staff to investigate the emergency and assist with the evacuation and floor sweeps. An alarm to alert all staff members an evacuation is taking place. communication devices so all of the marshals can be in contact with each other to ensure efficient sweeps and evacuations are being done.

What paperwork is needed to stay compliant? All the peperwork you need shall be placed in your safety file as part of your safety system. You will need a copy of all of the relevant acts, Appointed safety reps-fire marshals-first aiders and evacuation marshals, a fire register, area and equipment checklists, incident investigation forms and hot work permits. You will also need to stipulate the companies OSH principals and objectives, undertake a safety audit and a risk assessment. You also need to have a site specific emergency evacuation plan and procedures in place.

When – Do you need to consider safety? As soon as you are in a new work environment, moving into a new office or on a new construction site. You need to look at the situation for how many extinguishers you need, how many employees you have and check the safety signage.

When do you do a fire drill? A fire drill shall be done twice a year. When doing a fire drill you should look at the time it takes for the staff to evacuate, how the general staff react and how the trained staff are able to assist.

Where – Should signs and equipment be placed? As a general rule of thumb you should be able to see a safety sign pointing out an evacuation and safety equipment from any standing position in the office. equipment shall be placed in most central areas eg open plan offices, receprion areas and shall also be found close to the evacuation doors and along the evacuation routes.

Where can you set up an assembly point? An assembly point should be identified at any workplace. The assembly point shall be big enought to accomodate all of the employees comfortably and allow roll call to be taken as well as having necessary space to work on any possible injuries that had occured. The space shall also be seperate from the building and outside this eliminating having to re-evacuate.

Who – is responsible for safety? The CEO is always the person who has the obligation to the employees and the company to ensure that all practicable safety measures are taken. In saying that every employee has an obligation and resposibility by law to comply to safety rules and look after the well being of themselves and other staff members.

Who should carry out safety inspections? Inspections should be done externally every two years. Internal inspections shall be carried out every month and should be done by a safety rep trained in fire safety and hazards.

Who shall take charge of an evacuation? 5% of your staff shall be trained in fire and evacuation. between the trained staff there should be a head of fire and a head of evacuation identified. These roles should be taken in the fire drills that are conducted in order for the team to get used to procedures. The head of fire shall instruct what shall be done eg attempt to put the fire out, close all doors – switch off all plugs and start evacuating. Once the head of fire has done that the head of evacuation takes control and starts the evacuating procedures and coordenating the staff.

Who should serve as part of the OHS committee? The OHS committee is formed up of the appointed safety reps who should be voted and agreed upon by their peers. The committee shall also have committee members that are not safety reps, they shall be elected by the company. The committee members are usually head of department or managers. This assists with the representatives and the members working together and communicating effectively.

How – can we ensure that you are compliant? Ensuring compliance is a process and each process has to start somewhere. The safety process for me starts with the safety audit and the risk assessment. This will give you a report of what equipment you are lacking, what procedures you need to create and what precautions need to be taken to avoid the potential hazards of your workplace. Once you have the reports as a guide you should start putting together a safety file with all of the necessary master documents and checklists. The final steps are putting the safety plan into action, this means training and appointing staff, doing monthly safety checks, holding monthly safety meetings, reporting and investigating all incidents and carrying out fire drills.

Thank you for reading and I hope that this has helped answer some of the questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any other safety questions I am able to assist with.

Think Safe

Guy

Fall protection plans

Hi Everyone,

I was reading an article this morning on the statistics of fatal and serious injuries in American construction sites. America takes safety very seriously yet many injuries occur.

10 000 serious injuries occured last year from falls alone and it got me thinking about South african construction sites.

Many companies that I work with that are trying to conform to safety regulations are merely happy to tick the boxes to be regarded as compliant.

If you take the fall protection plan as an example it is quite easy to download or copy a fall protection plan and put it in your safety file, and on some sights you may get away with this from the site safety supervisor. More often than not a good safety officer will pick up that the plan does not go further than being on paper and is not site specific.

An effective fall protection plan should be written for the specific site and the challenges you may face. These could be working on scaffolds in an ongoing developement, refurbishing an existing building and being at heights in doors or outdoors.

A fall protection plan also needs to take into account the specific team that is working on the site and as the site will continuously change the plan needs to adapt and get reviewed.

A fall protection plan needs to be communicated and trained with the staff on site and the correct safety harnesses and equipment need to be utilized. Even once the staff have been trained a supervisor shall check on a daily basis that the plan is being followed.

By doing this you shall minimize the risk of an incident, save lives and save yourself from being fined.

As a safety professional I have assisted and observed many contractors on construction sites and I realise the challanges companies face. Companies are pressed for time with deadlines causing more pressure and a faster work pace and by rushing anything mistakes and injuries are going to occur.

The large amount of construction contractors out there means that more often than not price may get you the job. This means lower profits and to pay a proffessional or to spend extra money on safety seems like a waste.

I urge you to take safety very seriously, rather spend the extra money on covering yourself and protecting your staff than answering a call about a death in your workplace.

Thank you for your time. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me and I will gladly assist you.

Think safe

Guy

FIRE RISKS

Hi everyone,

Winter nearing ever so close, bringing the cold and power cuts brings a lot more dangers into our homes and businesses.

As our buildings are not built to withstand cold conditions like Europe and the Americas we are forced to use powered heat sources to bridge the gap and to create a comfortable climate indoors.

Elecrical aids like heaters are used and electric blankets, as this unnatural heat fills the room the body naturally relaxes and you get tired. This results in people not concentrating or falling a sleep. In the 8 years I have been in the fire safety industry I have heard of countless deaths of people leaving heaters too close to curtains and electric blankets on and then falling a sleep.

Please think about where you place your heat sources as this is the final piece of the starting a fire puzzle in your home or worlplace. I also urge you to vigilantly switch off all of your heat sources before going to bed.

Everything about winter lends itself to laziness and desperation for heat and this is a deadly combination.

With the power cuts, gas and candles are often used to create warmth and light. With a pet or children all it takes is being interested in the light and bumping something over so please always consider your environment before settling down and relaxing.

Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me on email or phone or alternatively you can respond to this blog.

Think safe

Guy