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.