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| 5 min
How to build a culture of health and safety compliance
Recently, we covered all the key reasons to make health and safety a priority in your organisation, but how can you put this into practice? Today we’re sharing some actionable tips to help build...
| 5 min
Why you should care about health and safety compliance
Ah, workplace health and safety. Is it exciting? No. Is it important? Yes. Should every leader in your business care about it? Definitely. Maintaining a safe and compliant workplace is not just the responsibility...
| 5 min
5 Common compliance mistakes and how to avoid them
Even if you have great compliance policies in place, using the wrong tools to implement them can undermine your efforts. The good news is, compliance management doesn’t have to be hard or even time-consuming...

How to build a culture of health and safety compliance

Recently, we covered all the key reasons to make health and safety a priority in your organisation, but how can you put this into practice? Today we’re sharing some actionable tips to help build a culture of health and safety compliance and avoid the common traps we discussed previously.

 

Get visibility on your compliance coverage

Before starting with any of these tips, you want to ensure you have the tools in place to spot gaps on your health and safety compliance, and measure improvements. By having a compliance dashboard in place, you can see things like outstanding policy acceptances, or mandatory qualifications that are missing or expiring soon. You can even track CPD points and skills present in your team to see what professional development is required. Within intelliHR’s qualification tracking, we’ve recently added Mandatory Job Requirements, allowing you to monitor requirements across different areas of the business. For example, a medical centre with office staff, doctors and nurses could set up different licenses, certifications or training needed for each group, and easily track that everyone holds what they need for the business to stay compliant (and safe). 

 

Ensure managers lead by example

We know that workplace injuries are more likely to occur in teams where the manager does not value or prioritise safety procedures, so naturally, leaders need to act as an example to their direct reports and not only uphold all health and safety policies but also demonstrate positive attitudes towards them. Any negative or dismissive comments about them can influence team members to start taking these measures less seriously. 

So this is a great idea in theory, but how can we enforce it? One tool we’ve developed to help with this is the 3-Stage Safety Survey Feedback Process.

  1. If a team member spots a potential hazard, they can complete a survey that then alerts their manager and the safety manager, reporting the concern at both a team and global levels 
  2. Safety incidents can be recorded, with a follow up workflow to ensure next steps are taken. This stage also reports the issue at both a team and organisation-wide level.
  3. Managers can also write safety-related diary notes, capturing the details and potential costs involved. This can later be used to establish a performance improvement process if needed.

 

Set expectations in onboarding

Just as a new starter’s manager will set the tone for their safety habits, it’s crucial that the onboarding process supports this and communicates your safety culture from day one. Onboarding is the perfect opportunity to set all your people up for success and make sure they have the right knowledge of any health and safety expectations from day one – and we don’t just mean getting them to sign off on policies. Communicate why health and safety is important to your organisation and let them know it’s a priority for everyone in the business.

 

Make policy updates engaging and easy to understand

It’s no surprise that many policies can get put off, ignored or skim read because they are wordy and difficult or inconvenient to read. Now often this is necessary, but there are ways that policy updates or onboarding checks can be made more engaging. For example, a form design could be used to attach a video explainer or imagery to policy updates that can then be sent out and accepted by all relevant staff electronically. Not only does it make obtaining and tracking acceptance a breeze, but it’s much more engaging and digestible for staff too. Yes, they still need to read the full policy and sign off, but with the visual cues or video included, you can be more confident knowing they have actually engaged with and understood what’s expected of them.

 

Communicate the reasons behind safety measures

Another common reason for health and safety measures to get ignored is that people may pass them off as unimportant if they don’t understand the reason behind them. So as leaders in the business, it’s our job to communicate these reasons and position the importance of any safety measure where the reasoning may not always be obvious. For example, a worker on his first day at a mine site might not see the big deal in having three days of facial hair growth – but once he’s told about the health impacts this could cause when his face mask can’t seal effectively – he’ll be much more likely to stay clean shaven from now on!

 

Demonstrate zero tolerance for breaches

If you’re in an industry where the risk of injury is prevalent and safety is absolutely paramount – this can be a good way to set an example. If health and safety policies are blatantly disregarded you may want to consider progressing this into performance management and improvement process straight away, to send the message that this is taken seriously. This should be a formal process that the team member owns, and is in no way about “punishing” the person but empowering them to be safe at work and help you find out what happened. Perhaps they were just following instructions, or a certain rule made it impossible to complete an essential task. This way, you can ensure any missteps are stopped in their tracks but also help people improve on their own adherence to policies and gain vital learnings about potential gaps in your processes. Engaging a formal improvement process allows you to achieve this while still laying the foundations for further performance management measures if problems persist. 

 

So there you have our tips on building a culture of health and safety compliance in your organisation. We work with a lot of customers in industries where this is absolutely paramount to their people’s wellbeing, so we’re always getting feedback and looking for ways to make safety and compliance simple. If this is something you want to improve in your business, check out our latest features here or get in touch to see how intelliHR could help you. 

 


Why you should care about health and safety compliance

Ah, workplace health and safety. Is it exciting? No. Is it important? Yes. Should every leader in your business care about it? Definitely.

Maintaining a safe and compliant workplace is not just the responsibility of the OH&S Officer or the HR Manager alone. It needs to be prioritised by every leader in the business, so they can lead by example and pass these values onto their team members. In this way, everyone can cooperate on building a truly safe workplace, one where safety is top of mind, safety processes are shared and applied, and safety feedback from every team member is encouraged and used to support continuous improvement.

So why is it so vital for the whole organisation to get on board? Today we’re exploring what can happen when a safety culture isn’t created and supported and safety compliance is not a priority – and the far reaching impacts that this can have upon your team and organisation.

 

A poor safety culture can curtail your compliance efforts

When you work so hard to put important policies in place, you want everyone in the business to not just accept, but actually follow them. Otherwise, your efforts could be rendered futile. Maintaining a culture where safety is taken seriously and prioritised by everyone in the business helps ensure safety policies are actually adhered to. 

This starts with all leaders in the business leading by example, helping their team to follow suit. Studies examining the relationship between safety culture and staff injuries found the biggest predictor of workplace incidents was the attitudes of managers towards safety.

We also know that organisations are more likely to see workplace incidents occur when process compliance across the business is poor. So making policy delivery and acceptance as straightforward and convenient as possible is key.

If you’re the one reading this, chances are you already know the importance of prioritising workplace health and safety, but if you need some pointers to help others in the business take it just as seriously as you do, read on.

 

A poor safety culture can jeopardise your people’s wellbeing and morale

Okay, so this may be obvious, but the safety risks go much further than just the individual affected.

Before we even consider the financial and legal ramifications of not prioritising WHS compliance in your organisation, the main concern here is looking after your people and ensuring they get home safe from work each day.

A serious workplace injury (or worse) obviously takes a huge toll on not just the individual affected and their family, but the ripple effect continues beyond this, spreading low morale and inciting safety concerns across their peers too. 

Naturally, this can lead to absenteeism, losses in performance and efficiency, and ultimately, to attrition as people seek safer jobs elsewhere.

 

A poor safety culture will expose your business to risk

Beyond this, leaving gaps in your compliance can obviously have serious legal or regulatory ramifications. 

But just how bad can it be?

Multiple states in Australia now have industrial manslaughter laws in place, holding businesses liable if it’s found their gross negligence led to death. In Queensland, for example, the offence carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment for senior officers and $10 million for body corporates. 

Earlier this month, industrial manslaughter charges were handed down to a company and its directors under section 34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld). The auto recycling business was found to have negligently caused death after one of their forklifts reversed into a pedestrian. 

By keeping health and safety compliance at the top of organisational priorities, the opportunity for events like these to occur can be diminished.

 

A poor safety culture can impact your bottom line 

Further to the examples above, not only can lapses in compliance lead to an array of fines and penalties, but an array of indirect costs too.

According to Safe Work Australia, employees who claim for a serious injury are absent from work, for 12 weeks, on average, and around one quarter of serious claims in Australia require more than 12 weeks off work. 

The productivity losses and increased sick leave costs in this time are huge, especially when you consider the flow on impact to other staff picking up extra work and reducing their usual capacity.

Poor WHS was also found to impact on a company’s ability to compete in their market, attract greater public scrutiny and decrease shareholder value. The latest figures from Safe Work Australia show work-related injuries cost employers $1.6 billion a year. 

WHS interventions are commonly seen by managers as an expense required to avoid financial penalties, but to the contrary, these measures act as a proactive investment in building a productive and profitable workplace.

 

So how can you make workplace health and safety a priority and get everyone on the same page? In the next blog, we’ll be looking at how to build a culture of compliance in your organisation.


5 Common compliance mistakes and how to avoid them

Even if you have great compliance policies in place, using the wrong tools to implement them can undermine your efforts. The good news is, compliance management doesn’t have to be hard or even time-consuming if you have the right tools on hand. Today we will explore five potential compliance mistakes that could happen to any organisation, and most importantly, the ‘best practice’ tips to avoid them in yours.

 

1. Employing a staff member with an expired license or qualification

Ensuring employees have the right licenses or other qualifications to do their job is usually top of mind when a new employee starts in the business, but over time, keeping track of hundreds of expiry dates is a significant and challenging task. Sometime expiries slip through the cracks exposing your organisation and team to unnecessary risk.

 

Consider this scenario:

Your children’s charity based in Queensland, Australia requires all staff to hold a valid Blue Card. Recently your CEO’s Blue Card expired and now your organisation and the CEO herself are facing penalties. If this information is revealed to the public, it could cause huge damage to your charity’s reputation and cause your donors to withdraw funding.

 

The solution: A Qualifications Dashboard

The Qualifications Dashboard allows you to have visibility over every staff member’s Blue Card or any other mandatory qualifications required to do their job safely and legally. You will be notified when these qualifications are close to expiring, allowing time to ensure renewals are organised before it’s too late.  

One intelliHR customer went from managing 900 staff members’ Blue Cards on a spreadsheet to a fully automated online process that allowed staff to take ownership of keeping their own qualifications up to date with appropriate system oversight. This helped everyone in the organisation gain greater visibility over any compliance gaps and in turn, drastically reduced risk across the business by ensuring no expiry date goes unnoticed.

 

2. Losing grounds to terminate an employee

While we must all adhere to Fair Work Laws, adherence can be rendered meaningless without sufficient records. No one wants to be forced to retain an employee who is causing deliberate damage to the organisation or the people around them, but this can happen if there is no evidence to support your grounds for their termination.

 

Consider this scenario:

An employee has been caught bullying a team member on three separate occasions. Your disciplinary process deems this to be cause for termination. The employee’s manager has delivered a verbal warning to the offending staff member each time, but the HR team was not notified, no diary notes were made and no written warnings were issued. The manager decides it’s time to finally terminate the offending employee and goes to HR who informs them that firing the staff member now will be deemed unfair dismissal as there is no documented evidence. By the time enough evidence has been gathered, the situation has escalated and the victim is forced to take stress leave.

 

The solution: Centralised Diary Notes

Ensure managers and other appropriate team members can simply and quickly record diary notes in a central, secure, online location so everything is documented, time-stamped and easy to find when you need it. This will also help you see when an employee needs to be escalated in the performance management process.

 

3. Missing a Visa expiration date

Allowing staff to remain employed beyond their visa expiration can have very costly consequences for employers and the staff member themselves. While many cases of employing illegal workers are deliberate, it could happen to anyone if a key date is missed. If your organisation employs multiple staff on visas it can become difficult to constantly stay on top of everyone’s work rights and expiration dates, but the right tools can help.

 

Consider this situation:

You employ a new staff member on a 400 visa for a special project with a three month timeline. Two weeks out from the planned completion date, extreme weather conditions cause a delay and the project manager makes a call to extend the project by another two months. The project manager isn’t aware of the staff member’s visa status and the HR team isn’t notified about the project extension. By the time the project is completed this worker has overstayed their visa by 60 days and the organisation is at risk of a serious fine.

 

The solution: A Compliance Dashboard

The Work Rights section within your intelliHR compliance dashboard will help you track all employees working on a visa and be notified when expiries are approaching. This way when it’s time for an employee to be off-boarded or their visa renewed, you will have full visibility.

intelliHR has helped multiple customers move their manual visa processes into an automated and streamlined approach. These organisations are now able to clearly see which visa-related tasks needed to be completed, and whether the staff member or employer is responsible. Better visibility over key dates and tasks to be actioned drastically reduces risk for these organisations and their people keeping it top of mind when it needs to be.

 

4. Inconsistent policy dissemination

Occasional updates to policy or the introduction of new policies is unavoidable, and sometimes the changes can cause confusion. What’s important is that everyone receives the same message, in the same way, and there is a record of its receipt and actioning.

 

Consider the following situation:

Policy changes are being made but there is currently no consistent way to distribute and communicate the changes to everyone in the business. You have tried incorporating policy updates into the morning meetings but employees who are absent miss out on the information and there is no record of the policy changes being communicated or received. As policy changes are communicated verbally, those attempting to relay the information are describing the changes differently and staff are misinterpreting what they need to do, resulting in inconsistent procedures.

 

The Solution: Policy Management Workflow

Using an online policy management tool will ensure the right policy updates are delivered to all relevant employees in a consistent way, with a record of understanding and acceptance. This way, you can send out a pulse to all staff containing the updates and ask them to confirm their understanding by clicking a button or ask questions if there is any confusion. You will also be able to see who hasn’t completed their acceptance and follow up accordingly.

 

5. Falling short on CPD points

Many industries including finance, insurance, health, accounting and law, require staff to maintain a certain number of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points in each reporting period. When staff aren’t held accountable to achieving their CPD requirements, sudden panic can ensue at audit time.

 

Consider this scenario:

Your sales team has mandatory CPD requirements to fulfil each year, which are recorded in a static spreadsheet. With nothing to notify or remind employees to undertake required training, the spreadsheet is ignored for most of the year. As you start preparing for your EOFY audit, you realise the whole team is short on CPD points, forcing you to issue everyone with 20 hours of courses to complete in the next two months. The team now loses hours of productivity from their day as well as their own personal time just to get all the training completed. This results in reduced morale, lower sales figures, and leads to potential retention issues.

 

The Solution: Centralised Training Records

With a central online record, employees can enter and keep track of their own training throughout the year. Managers and the HR team will also have visibility over training undertaken by each team and individual, allowing them to identify training gaps and ensure sufficient training is being completed each quarter.

 

If you’d like to find out how we solve these challenges for our clients, just reach out to one of our HR Experts.

We hope these tips have helped you check for potential gaps in your compliance processes and ensure your organisation can avoid making any of these mishaps in the future. Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments.