Archive for category Health and Safety Dept

How to be Emergency Ready in a Construction Workplace

One of the riskiest professions is that of a construction worker. With every thinkable hazard lurking from every corner and aspect of work, construction sites are considered as a health and safety nightmare.

workplace-ready

Image from Pixabay

There are even some countries where construction workers are not even given social security benefits mainly because of the dangers involved in their everyday activities.

Responsible employees, however, are aware of their duties and obligations. Keeping up with different measures and compliance with the related laws, due care of workers and visitors alike are given top priority.

It is important to note that having all of these in place cannot guarantee a full protection against accidents. Should there be an emergency in a construction workplace, here is a first aid guide to help you during critical situations:

Assess the Situation

It is instinctive to immediately react to a situation, therefore, people tend to flock the victim which is highly unrecommended. This is what you should do:

  • Quickly neutralize hazards around the place of emergency.
  • Check for anything around the area that may cause further harm.
  • Evaluate the victim and check for consciousness and responsiveness.

Ask someone to make an emergency call as you look after the patient. In case you are alone with the victim, never leave his/her side. Reach out for your phone and make the necessary call.

Bear in mind the following in making an emergency call:

  1. Your phone number
  2. A concise but relevant description of what happened
  3. The status of the patient
  4. Your exact location.

As the help arrives, it is ideal to have someone meet the incoming emergency team.

Handling Burns

Burns are damage to one or multiple layers of the skin caused by exposure to heat or chemicals. It is important to make sure that the danger is under control before attempting to approach the victim.  

Burns range in severity from minor to major, the first aid for any degree is to wash the affected area with clean running water.

Remember that chemical burns are highly sensitive and can easily get contaminated. Remove any clothing exposed to the chemical. Make sure that you flush the area with running water that is cool and not cold. Exposing burns from chemicals with cold water may aggravate the injury.

After flushing with water, apply a non-adhesive, non-fluffy, wet dressing. This will help prevent infection without agitating the burnt area. Call for a medical assistance as soon as possible.

Taking Care of Bleeding

Cuts and bruises are common in any workplace, especially in a construction site. You must, however, take extra caution in handling bleeding patients no matter the severity of the wound.  As such, always wear a pair of gloves when treating them.  

Encourage the patient to relax and be seated properly, then check the wound for any foreign material. Do not remove any objects from the wound. This may cause further bleeding.

In some severe cases, bleeding can cause shock, call an ambulance immediately.

You can minimise bleeding by placing a dressing on the wound while applying firm, direct pressure. It will also help a lot to keep the affected area elevated and restrained.

Crush Injury First Aid

Crush injuries are those that occur because of pressure from a heavy object onto a body part. It is also caused by the squeezing of a body part between two objects.

Depending on severity, crush injuries can result in:

  • Broken bones
  • Severe bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Lacerations
  • Breakdown of muscles

Always neutralize any hazard before attending to the victim. Check for any response, if conscious, reassure the patient.

Assess the situation, remove the crushing weight ASAP as long as it is logically safe to proceed.

Evaluate the wound’s severity, for minor crush injuries, the medical attention needed are the same as treating cuts and bleeding.

Dealing with Fall Injuries

Victims who fell from height that is more than one meter can already be considered critical. The chances of incurring head or spinal injury are already high. The immediate course of action is to stabilise the victim and treat any possible concussion.

Make a thorough assessment of the victim. Signs of concussion that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Confusion
  • Vision impairment
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness

If the victim sustained any fracture, treat any incurred wound and immobilise the fractured part. Call an ambulance straight away.

Every emergency needs to be properly documented. The what, where, and how must be explained in as much detail as possible. The treatment provided must be properly noted, as well as the ambulance number and the hospital where the victim is taken too.

Having a first aid guide in your office wall can actually save lives.

als-fa-poster-construction-v3

For more first aid visual guides, posters and a free comprehensive ebook, check out this Beginners Guide to Workplace First Aid.

This post was created by the team at ALSCO as a business development initiative. many thanks to Katrina McKinnon and team.

Assessing your Workplace for First Aid Compliance

There is an imminent need for assessing workplace safety among many establishments in Australia. Accidents are inevitable, and as such, a proactive approach is needed to minimise if not eradicate work-related injuries and diseases. The greater question is if an employer is ready to respond to them.Assessing-your-Workplace-for-First-Aid-ComplianceHaving a practical outlook on your first aid measures and procedures is a major requirement to keeping your workplace compliant with the WHS Act. An emergency action plan does not only protect your employees but also ensures continuity of operations after a disaster or emergency.

How Important Is First Aid in the Workplace?

Research shows that well over 630 000 workers suffered a work-related injury in Australia between 2009 and 2010. This figure accounts for all types of jobs from all industries and emergency categories.

The Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act articulates an outline that covers the scope of first aid – all personnel, including visitors and customers. WHSA compliance is mandatory, encompassing all aspects of the business workplace whether remote, mobile, or outdoors.

Legal requirements call for a strict observation as stipulated under Section 274 of the WHS Act. Furthermore, it compels every company to have a comprehensive action plan for any emergency situation.

These efforts are all in place to ensure the safety and productivity of all personnel. From a business perspective, it directly correlates to brand building and employability.

How To Comply with WHS Compliance

It is important to get acquainted with the most important points of the WHS guidelines on how to become first aid compliant in your workplace.

These are all vital pieces of information that will churn out ideas for an efficient action plan. Keep this record updated as it is crucial for the actions to follow.

Create an Action Plan

  1. Closely assess your work area, you now have a basis for your course of action.
  2. Determine all possible scenarios and their corresponding strategies.
  3. Ensure that these are all aligned with the WHS requirements.
  4. Consider integrating your crucial evacuation details to the set standards and take account of broader emergency settings.

Your action plan will be valid only if you update it in accordance with the changes that happen in your company.

Some work requires transferring from one place to another. It should be clearly stated that there is a specific plan for each location. Change of staff must be also taken into account and this should be followed by proper adjustments in your emergency plan.

Regularly evaluate your own work. An emergency can strike at any point in time so it’s best to be proactive than to be forced to deal with the consequences.

Designate a Point Person

During an emergency, the lack of communication can exponentially aggravate the situation.

Assigning a point person who will act as a leader in these cases will help convey messages faster and more efficiently. They will act like beacons during disasters and orchestrate order.

Training is not obligatory for this position. But it can help, Supervisors and Managers are your primary options for these roles. There are some instances, however, that some special know-how is required for carrying out an appropriate response. Set the roles strategically among your work populace.

Conduct Drills and Practices

They say that perfect practice makes perfect. Emergency situations are not an exception. When a clear-cut emergency/evacuation plan has been formulated, it is necessary to test it through simulation.

Conduct a drill for every given situation, from an earthquake drill to an employee who had a simple wound.

Make a keen observation of everything that happens during the drills. It will allow you to check for leaks within your plan and give you an opportunity to improve and innovate.

The point person/s should act accordingly and take the lead. Their response to these drills will help measure the effectivity of your emergency plan.

Have A WHS Compliant First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is not just a mere tool to aid in an emergency, it contents can decide the outcomes of life and death situations.  

Therefore, these kits must be placed in obvious places  throughout the work area. The level and category of work orientation determine what should be inside a first aid kit.

 

Create A List of Your Emergency Contact Numbers

Emergency contact lists should contain all the local numbers of every phone in the workplace. Part of the objective of the WHS Act is to ensure continuity of business after any given emergency.

It is, therefore, imperative that the list includes the phone numbers of any other key people, stakeholders, and companies like suppliers, employees.

The most important emergency numbers must be highlighted: the police, fire station, local state emergency units, and ambulance services.

First Aid Training and Amenities

Every company or business is obliged to abide by the rules set forth by the WHS Act. It has to always safeguard all personnel in the workplace with full diligence, including other persons that may be affected by its operations.

It is always advisable to remind your employees about the importance of first aid in a workplace. Some of the simple procedures can be put on the walls in the form of first aid visual guides. The best place for these posters is near the first aid kit.

Regards

Katrina McKinnon
Community Outreach
www.alsco.com.au
www.alscofirstaid.com.au

The Open Plan Office Failure

Open plan offices offer a lot if your team communicates openly with each other share conversations with customers and offering information or advice between a small group of staff. The challenge comes when you expect the team to work without distractions (planning – on the phone with customers etc.)

Ok so what was the big deal with going for open plan in the first place? Cost? Having the chance to break down barriers? More open communication? Other…

Let’s go the other way, what’s the deal with a ‘closed’ office? Greater privacy – Easier to concentrate – Cut down on noise – More wall space (for planning charts and so on…) – Your computer can be oriented so only you see what’s on the screen (ok not the best reason but surely quiet important!)

Perhaps the best way is to go halfway (is that possible?) creating spaces which offer users the ability to have privacy, a sense of security, still have some degree of communication openness, not have the cost of a full office, and provide the user with that sense of ownership or personalisation without having everyone look at your personal items etc

Maybe we could go for the cocoon, or pod, I seem to recollect back in the 70’s the Illustrator Roger Dean (Did lots of futuristic and fantasy album covers) created a whole bunch of futuristic spacey spaces and one of them included a ‘Learning Pod’ and individual cocoon shaped like a giant seed pod. Is that a way to go…

I believe the answer probably lies in clearly looking at what the business, your business, is all about and exploring the ideal way to make what needs to happen, happen, in the most effective way possible.

If your team really work as a team, then maybe a team space is required with separate areas to compile info for the team.

If your team are working directly with customers, then perhaps they just need a space where they can do that with minimal fuss.

If your team are a bunch of slackers and serve no real purpose to your amazingly big conglomerate then perhaps a bunch of hotel rooms with Wi Fi connectivity might be the go…

I guess what I am really saying is to ‘go deep’ and look at the specific reasons your team need the space they need and how they will interact (or not). I guess I am also thinking make the space adaptable so things can be altered when the need arises.

Oh and let’s not forget the concept of status, where the ‘boss’ gets the ‘closed office and privacy’ and the others get ‘open space and prying eyes’ surely we can think beyond that and come up with spaces which cause people to believe they are highly valued contributors without any loss of status.

Perhaps open plan failure is just a starting point to creating office space success.

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Do you have staff? STOP NOW!

Pay attention people, all hell could break loose with your staff and you may not even know it! Ok I may be exaggerating a little but the thing is you could have a potential problem so stop now and read on…

Here’s the issue, you figure the people you employed will have some common sense and do the right thing in your business, know their skills, apply them well and be a productive part of your business community. But wait, what if you learned they may not have so much common sense after all, don’t feel bad (just yet) many people seem to fall into this category…

The specific issue this time is OHS, lets set a scene to explain why. You explain the OHS system when you employed a person and figure they will remember to let you know if an incident happens, even if it is a minor one or even if it has the possibility of happening. But over time they forget.

Lets go a step further, the staff member in question,  twists quickly in the course of  doing their job, no lifting of an object… just a twist, lets say to change direction while walking… In an instant they feel some pain in their back, a strain or sprain of some kind.

They think to themselves, “I wasn’t doing anything at the time, and even though I am at work there is nothing to report.” well not true, they have an injury which took place at work, not due to work but AT WORK. Therefore it should be reported. In this case however it wasn’t.

The issue becomes greater as the person decides the next day to take time out to se a Doctor as the pain is worse and needs to be seen to. Their Doctor is busy so they go to another, see a long waiting list and decide to give it a miss, they have missed a day of work and will see if they can sleep it off. The next day they return to work still a little sore from the ordeal.

Chances are it may never turn out to be an issue for the person or the organisation, but what if it did.

Lets say the person does have an issue, and on advice they get legal advice, the solicitor tries to pin down what took place and the OHS records at the business show nothing reported, then they close the book and say “Sorry it’s doubtful there is any case for the company to answer as there are no records of an incident taking place, was there a witness? No, oh well then there is nothing to make your story stick…”

Interesting story, but in real life such a situation can be tragic for the employee if they can not pursue any action, tragic for the company if they lose an employee or end up with one who may be able to only do some of their original duties, which could be tough all round. Or imagine they just spread the word your organisation is lousy for not looking after people, more mud, and some will stick.

The moral here is to keep training and reminding your staff to be highly aware of safety issues, making it a number one priority always, and reporting the simplest thing, actual or potential, which could be a risk to the organisation or a person. Lets hope the subject of our story has no further issues and the sprain gets better soon!

Workplace Bullying Policy

Don’t turn off and stop reading because you are a small business, Don’t stop reading because you believe you have all the bases covered on this one, and just because your people in the HR department say there is no need for such a thing due to no cases of it at this point be wary of that.

Imagine you employ a bright eyed graduate or fresh faced school leaver brimming with interest and potential, then after a few weeks you see them with less of a smile, less of a pep in their step. For most people watching this person they might say, yep the realities of being in a job have kicked in, he he!

That can be the case, but what if they have found their supervisor or a co-worker has given them some grief, a few terse words, a few statements which have impacted on their esteem. This might seem like petty stuff, but the impact of this sort of situation can get out of hand very quickly, the worker may feel powerless, in a bind, awkward, berated, useless and so on. Some wil bottle it in and be ready to leave the minute another opportunity arises.

Your business has a duty of care,  you have a duty of care and this needs to be stated up front that everyone in the organisation also has a duty of care to each other and your general customers. That being the case, guidelines need to be in place to clearly out line what actions are taken in situations like this and to spell out some basics as to what might constitute bullying, harassment and other situations which might impact on a persons esteem.

Okay so now a bunch of  you are saying “Hey, what the hell, do I have to care about a persons esteem? Heck I pay them to do a job, they should do it and put up with the situation, they should harden up, the world is a tough place…”

My view on that is, how can you not care about a person you employ… If you are not into caring, avoid being in business. If you don’t care, your customers won’t either and then your staff will soon disappear. Yes it’s that basic, and you need to ensure you have the situation covered or you could be caught out VERY QUICKLY.

So do the right thing and have one ready to implement now, I suggest at the very least you do a search on google and see what comes up, grab one that suits and use it. for a rock solid start try the public service in your country and see what they have you can edit to make it your own. one I looked at recently had a 44 page doc you could download easily enough and it had various examples as well. http://www.apsc.gov.au/ethics/respect.pdf

To finish, imagine this, you are interviewing people for a job, on telling them about the organisation you are able to show them a copy of your bullying policy. It shows you care, it shows you will not tolerate people who don’t care, it shows you want to have happy people enjoying being part of the team, together everyone feels safe and in a organisation which values people, enough said…

Regards

Steve Gray

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The Franchisor has a duty of care…

In business we all have a duty of care to some degree, we also have to make a profit at some stage by providing a product and or service that’s what makes us a business and not a charity.

In franchising I see it that the duty of care is still there, its perhaps very different to working directly with an employee but it still exists. In some areas Franchisors have been criticised for some of their practices and over time regulators have put in a lot of work to ensure unscrupulous operators are out of the system or not supported, by putting into place some devices to make their business be seen as one that cares at a deeper level will only assist them in sales and their longevity in the market place. If the duty of care is lacking there can be issues arise that cause more friction and pain than good will and esteem.

So what sorts of things can they do to bolster their duty of care?

1. Stop the churn – Churning is a term used to describe a person giving up their territory and the main company reselling it at a future time, so they get a number of start up fees from the one territory. This great for them but not for the person trying to sell their territory. it causes a sour feeling for the seller and perhaps some tension from the franchisors side, over time the wound may well heal but the stigma remains. if they had worked with the initial owner to create a business that was glowing, and perhaps create a ‘passive income’ then they would not have to sell, in fact they would have created an asset of greater value.

2. Make the start up better – Sure new franchisees get training and before the training is the sales process. What if before the sales process came a due diligence checklist? Or a guide to what makes a successful franchisee in their business… It would be great to have info that showed a scenario of how to make the business work rather than a risky stab in the dark. It could also be a model of how to operate the business if they get into it. It serves two purposes, to inform as to how the business might run, and as a qualifying device to pick the right franchisee and not just any franchisee. Take it further and insist they spend at least a week or two helping out another franchisee, then ask if they really want to do it, find out the whys and why nots and build on that to make the business stronger. Even go so far as to provide them with a simple financial checklist or spreadsheet, that shows the average costs of running the business and then do some financial from there, it could be an excel preadsheet they use ont he computer to punch in various figures to see what they could make, not trying to figure out roughly what’s possible.

3. Train better – It’s one thing to learn about a product or service but another to learn about business skills, even if you have some already. Business is such a diverse device that one type of business may not mean the skills are transferable. Role plays, scenarios and various practical examples can be useful as well as the mechanics of leadership, finances, marketing, HR and so on. The more info you get to work with the better. Then add to the training later on, seminars, franchise group meetings and conventions go some way to doing this so make it a feature.

4. Communicate more – So you have a new franchisee, a contact at head office and over time they get disgruntled and you wonder why… make the effort to have the team keep in contact, when you contact them they say, “We would be more productive if you head office people did not keep calling us!! Ha ha! but hey keep it up the support is great!” An email occasionally is nice, a newsletter okay, but the real McCoy of face to face or over the phone contact regularly makes a real difference. Be there for the franchisee, not just pay lip service to it so they can really sense you care.

5. Use your FAC – The franchise advisory council or whatever you choose to call it, should be a vital link to the inner workings of your organisation. It should be the guide to improvement, the quality development device that you call on to get momentum happening. Lets face it the franchisees are the customers to the franchisor so the FAC becomes the focus group to learn from. Well trained FAC’s can become mentors, and get feedback from the people at the coal face.

6. OHS – In most cases where a duty of care is mentioned, Occupational Health and Safety is the area where it gets mentioned. The same here, all the above points are about caring for the franchisee physically and mentally. So consider using some form of OHS plan to find ways pf helping the franchisees. It may even be as obvious as showing them ways to boost their own OHS in the workplace and becoming “safety watch its” that may make a difference.

7. Minister and discipleship – Not totally in the religious sense, but in the setting of standards, the leadership of teams, the passing on of the “good word”. Be the way, the truth and the light… Be the person they respect as a leader, be the one who is the font of knowledge and is there with the right sort of advice and helping hand they need when they need it. It’s more of a holistic approach to caring and your role in the organisation as the leader. Consider it as mentoring, coaching, leading, ministering, discipleship and or anything else you care to call it, be their right hand and be it brilliantly!

8. Do the internal stuff – It’s one thing to work with the franchisees, but how often do you focus on your staff? How are they awarded and rewarded for their contribution above and beyond the $$ they earn. If the franchisees and prospective franchisees are doing their job they will notice the turnover of staff, any annoyances in the background etc. Your job No: 1. is to build the esteem of the internal team so that they glow with enthusiasm and delight at being part of your team and the things it achieves. Tey in turn will look out more for the franchisees and any issues they have more readily.

None of the above points are meant to be easy, in fact they might just add to your workload a little, However if you want your franchise business to be exceptional in all it does, these are a guide to finding the way forward and the franchisees will love the care and attention you show.

Your magic business…

Today you are doing what SPECIFICALLY…

– to make your business more profitable?

– to cause the staff to LOVE you?

– to cause the customers to LOVE you and your team?

– to cause your suppliers to jump through hoops to give you great deals (and LOVE you)?

– to ensure your workplace is the best place to work, form both a safety and aesthetic perspective?

– to cut down on red tape?

– to create more elegant systems?

– to ensure your business is growing well?

The list can be as long as you like, with out this kind of input your business can stagnate and fade, in short it can shrivel up and die… So do something today to make it thrive.

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