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

Simplifying the OHS Act

Hi All,

Most people I speak to and consult for, find the OHS Act to be confusing and daunting to try and understand. For business owners there are a few simple rules that you need to follow to aid in keeping your company safety compliant.

The first thing is to remember and understand the roles and responsibilities you have as a business owner. As far as health and safety goes your first and foremost duty is to keep your staff safe by using all practicable means.

What this means is that you shall provide a safe working environment by using effective, yet affordable means. The OHS Act provides us with guidelines of the minimum requirements in all different the working scenarios.

This is where most clients start getting confused and unsure if they are taking the right steps towards safety compliance. I have provided a list and description of basic steps that you need to follow in all working environments to ensure you are compliant as well as effectively minimising incidents in the workplace.

  • A system needs to be created and accessible – this system is for record keeping of all safety issues, findings and achievements. You always want and need to have some form of evidence to hand over to any authorities that may request it this includes insurance companies and safety inspectors.
  • The system needs to have a few basic requirements in place – you will need to have either in the file or displayed in the workplace a copy of the OHS act, COID act, and labour laws. Appointed safety reps, fire marshals and evacuation marshals. Master documents for appointments,¬†safety checklists and incident investigations.
  • The above is your starting point, once you have the generic information in place the site specific information shall be collected – This includes drawing up safe work instructons and procedures which instructs safe ways in which to carry out activities in the workplace.
  • A risk assessment and safety audit which should be done externally to begin the safety system and then internal assessments done yearly and external assesments recomended every twu years. This allows you two know how to correctly safeguard your employees and assets from any incidents.
  • emergency procedures need to be drawn up – This will include evacuation plans to show where to evauate if the building is big and confusing as well as written procedures. The written procedures are to point out roles and responsibilities, where to go and how as well as where everyone should meet and what needs to be taken to the assembly point.
  • Training is an integral part of a safety system -¬†5% of your staff shall be trained in fire safety and evacuation strategies while 0ne in every fifty employees needs to be trained in first aid.

Once all of the above is in order and filed in the safety system you should be compliant but you would still need to maintain compliance on a monthly basis. For example Рyou are required to check all of your safety equipment every month, documenting your findings and any deviations. A general premises check shall be done every month looking at plug points, lighting, housekeeping, evacuation routes and signage. Lastly a monthly safety meeting needs to be carried out assessing your current safety situation and discussing any incidents that may have occured within the previous month.

The main reoson for having a correct complete safety system is that you are aware and prepared for any imidiate dangers and by doing the monthly safety checks correctly you could be able to early detect a warning sign that could be deadly.

Looking at everything you need to achieve to be safety compliant looks like too much to handle if you do not have anything, as you do not know where to start. I assure you that getting proffessionals to assist you in the initial assessments and set up of the safety system. They will be able to leave you compliant and compitent to maintain compliance in-house.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further assistance. I am able to tailor make a system for you according to your needs and requirements.

Thanks for reading

Think safe

Guy