I’m delighted to come on board today as the new editor of the Health & Safety Bulletin.
I’d like to begin by briefly telling you a little about myself – and then, I’d like to say something about you.
I come from a dual background of law and journalism – which means that while I’m interested in how health and safety law is practised and implemented, and I’m also aware that how it’s communicated is essential. This is an area of law that’s hands-on, with very real consequences. It should be made simple and accessible.
I also come from a family background of small business – heavy machinery, vehicle and equipment hire, to be specific. In that sector, health and safety was a daily reality.
Employees had to be trained and protected. Machinery had to be maintained and tested. Effective work plans needed to be put into place for hazardous sites, and inspections had to be anticipated and complied with.
These are all ongoing, demanding requirements. But by mastering your health and safety rights and obligations, you can cross one big source of risk off your list.
That’s where you come in – if you’re already reading this, you’re one of the good ones.
It means that you take an active interest in meeting your health and safety obligations seriously. You want to see your workforce come home safely to their families, and be at their best on the job.
What’s more, you continue to do this in an environment where many businesses see health and safety as an expense they can somehow shave off to undercut their competitors.
You won’t be making any headlines any time soon. But you also won’t become the health and safety case study where one tragic incident reveals a shocking lack of care and commitment to worker safety and wellbeing, and you won’t be the business reeling from fines, prosecutions, and months in court.
But remember – health and safety law is a huge, dynamic area. There are many areas of compliance, many processes that have to be adapted to a particular work environment, and a lot of responsibility falling on those in charge. There’s always plenty more to learn – and as always, the Health & Safety Bulletin will set out to make these challenging concepts simpler for you and your business.
Michael Selinger will continue to update you each week from his perspective as Editor-in-Chief of the Health & Safety Handbook. Since this is my first Bulletin, I thought it might be appropriate to look at some of the key principles of the induction of new workers
Who gets inducted?
Induction is the process of introducing new workers to the business, their work, their supervisors and their fellow workers.
From the perspective of running your organisation well, it should be a no-brainer. You ensure that new workers receive accurate and consistent information about how to carry out their work. This means they carry out that work efficiently.
But it’s also essential from a health and safety perspective, because it ensures that from the outset your workers are operating consistently with safe work practice.
Employers in all jurisdictions need to be able to say that they have processes in place to ensure workers are sufficiently competent in safety practices to comply with their positive duty of due diligence.
Inducting employees properly
You should begin the induction process by:
- introducing the worker to the role (review the job description, and your expectations);
- introducing the worker to the business (introduce the worker to their co-workers and the area of business operations they will be working in);
- introducing the worker to the workplace (take the worker through the physical layout of the workplace, including amenities and facilities;
- provide an orientation for use of phone and computer systems;
- explain your workplace policies and procedures, including your code of conduct, harassment policies, and your accident and emergency procedures;
- detail the safe work practices that are relevant to the worker’s role (e.g. the safe use of machinery, substances, or security systems); and
- explain how health and safety is managed in the workplace (who is in charge, and how hazards should be reported).
Employee induction is not a “once over lightly” process. It’s not enough to treat an employee signing a copy of a safe operating procedure as proof they are competent, and the overall induction process should be ongoing and documented until you can prove that your workers are competent in carrying out their work.Inducting contractors properlyAn induction into the work site and its general hazards should take place for all contractors you engage to work for you.
This should cover:
– site entry (the safe and appropriate way to enter and leave the site);
– access and amenities (where things are kept and where/how to use the facilities);
– how work will be managed and supervised;
– any relevant safe work procedures;
– emergency response procedures; and
– relevant business policies, e.g. sexual harassment policy, drugs and alcohol policy.
Induction processes are essential and should be most detailed for those health and safety procedures relevant to the process, tools, or equipment the contractor will be undertaking.
Remember: it’s not enough just to give the contractor a stack of documents. You need to be assured that the contractor understands the relevant policies and procedures. Again, remember to keep records of each stage of this process.
Editor, Health & Safety Handbook