By Michael Selinger
A lot has happened during the pandemic – businesses have been suspended, shut down, modified, ‘pivoted’, restarted and, in some cases, grown with acquisitions of other businesses.
But with all these necessary changes, there is a need for heightened awareness of the work health and safety challenges posed by entering into a new business, changing your current business operations or integrating an existing business with yours.
Some of the challenges you face in this area include:
- understanding the safety processes of the new business and operations;
- identifying the risks within the new business and operations; and
- assessing the adequacy of current controls of those risks.
If you are looking to integrate a business or set up a new operation, you should be aware that the introduction of any new workforce or different systems could pose several risks, which if not managed properly, may result in injury and potential investigations by safety regulators.
The common areas for these risks to occur include:
- new staff not being familiar with the operating procedures at your organisation;
- existing controls being inadequate;
- failing to properly communicate work processes to new employees; and
- mixing together the different safety cultures of two organisations.
Given practical limitations, it is important to try to prioritise and ensure that any high-risk activities are addressed first. This will require a level of planning before the commencement or integration of the business occurs.
Equally, these issues can arise if your business is entering into an agreement to operate a joint venture or a partnership with another organisation for a limited duration. In those situations, there can be times where your workforce acts in unison with the workforce from another organisation. The key aspects to focus on in that sort of arrangement are to:
- carefully plan for the joint venture;
- agree processes that will be followed by the combined workforce;
- audit and review the existing systems of both organisations to ensure the most effective approach is adopted; and
- carefully supervise the preliminary stages of the integration to ensure effective ongoing management.