By Andrew Hobbs
Engaging your supervisors to lead the way in workplace safety is key to ensuring new safety programs are widely accepted and taken up across your business, according to the winner of a recent national safety award.
Comdain Infrastructure, an engineering and asset management services company with operations in Victoria, Queensland and NSW, won Safe Work Australia’s (SWA) 2017 Workplace Reward as part of the organisation’s National Safe Work Month initiative.
SWA CEO Michelle Baxter said Comdain’s education program, designed specifically to address work health and safety concerns in its business, deserved particular commendation.
“Comdain’s leadership campaign was inclusive, engaged all levels of staff, empowered them to make good safety choices, and maximised knowledge retention across the organisation,” she said.
“[The] safety initiative demonstrates a strong long-term commitment to WHS and places a particular emphasis on the safety of their workers.”
Speaking with Health & Safety Bulletin, Comdain Infrastructure National Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Manager Kevin Morrison said the company had identified 10 high-risk areas that it wanted to address after reassessing its risk profile.
“Each week we would take the opportunity to review of our policies and procedures, and whether we need to update them,” he said.
The review considered feedback from working groups across the company before any changes were announced – with suggested improvements incorporated into any updates made.
The second phase, Mr Morrison said, was to develop the training packages – one for supervisors and another for field staff.
“The intention is to equip the supervisors with more knowledge and skills so they are well informed and armed on how to manage the various hazards,” he said.
Training for field staff was focussed on identification of the hazard and some understanding of any applicable controls.
“What we really want them to do is stop when they recognise an issue, say: ‘I am not sure about this’ and go and check with their supervisor, who has been armed with the knowledge to assess the risk and introduce the appropriate control strategies,” he said.
Testing their knowledge
Mr Morrison told Health & Safety Bulletin that Comdain now tested its supervisors to ensure that the training they received was being implemented accurately across the company.
He said that once supervisors had trained the field staff, the company would conduct a more formal inspection of how a certain activity was being managed, in accordance with the new procedures or their expectations.
“The advantage of that was we were getting feedback very quickly around where we might have had some gaps in imparting that knowledge to field staff, so that got fixed very quickly and it also gave us an indication of how successful that whole program has been.”
Mr Morrison said this helped to ensure the company demonstrated that feedback was taken on board, allowing the program to go through a continuous improvement cycle as it moved forward.
What types of training are needed?
All employers or people conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) are required to provide their workers with training in how to carry out their tasks, and an induction to the health and safety procedures specific to your workplace.