How to Ensure the Safety of Equipment, Your People and Your Profits
The safety of equipment, operators and margins are three goals worthy of pursuit, but meeting all three goals involves complexity, variables and extra effort. They’re the challenges we’re tackling today. The best purchase decision allows our templated resources to work effectively in your complex situation - but how is that best achieved? We’re also going to consider a real-life example, with a few details altered to protect the anonymity of our customers.
We will look at the following:
- The role of good questions and accurate answers.
- The customer’s perspective.
- The regulating of plant and equipment safety.
- Safety, people, profit and solutions.
- Investing well.
The Safety of Equipment and People Depends on Good Questions and Accurate Answers.
What is the most dangerous type of construction work? Amidst various possible answers, plant and equipment would be the winner, if not runner-up. This is because while proper controls and procedures can increase safety, the human factor is always present, and the seriousness of an injury is potentially catastrophic. The consequences of a plant or machinery error can be deadly or destroy the quality of life. This makes the safety of equipment, operators, and others in the vicinity worthy of our absolute attention.
It also makes for complicated questions and variables that each business must handle separably. This is why good questions and accurate answers are so important.
These are serious questions, not questions like, “Is the continued purchase of vinyl records a sound purchase?” 🙂
No. These are more weighty questions with severe consequences following. Let’s examine some of those questions by considering a recent exchange we had with a customer.
The Safety of Equipment and People from a Customer’s Perspective
Early this year a new customer navigated our site, purchased some products, and followed the instructions as best he could. His selections were mainly on the money, but he was new to the process and dealing with plant and equipment - which meant he had unusual complications.
After making a virtuous attempt to wade through the challenges, he decided to put our customer service claims to the test. It began with an email and later became a conversation. Later still, it became the inspiration for this article.
Before I explain the details, I hope you’ll allow me a small indulgence: I’m proud of how we looked after this guy! When he reached out to us, the sale had already been made. It also quickly became apparent that as construction operators go, he’s not a customer who will generate significant future sales. Nevertheless, we looked after him in a way that he and we were thoroughly satisfied. I’m proud of that - and I don’t mind ‘tooting our own horn’ as my nan might have said.
Now back to the story.
Our customer was frustrated by plant and equipment complications and some ‘newbie’ misunderstandings about what templates can and should do. We threw him a lifeline and pulled him out of the grey.
Once we were finished, he was happy, and so were we, though for the record, it would have been better if he’d called us before the purchase. Perhaps he feared we’d twist his arm and manoeuvre for an oversell. We didn’t ask because he seemed embarrassed enough already. I do know that we could have saved him some pain and lost time, and he now knows who we are and how we operate.
Talking Through the Safety of Equipment and People and Profit
What follows is a slightly expanded sampling of this recent interaction and some similar past exchanges.
Customer: Do you have a SWMS for a 2012 Hino 500 Series tipper truck?
OSS (us): No. Unfortunately, we can’t create specific SWMSs for every individual make and model on the market. It would be practically impossible. That said, our Dump Truck SWMS (which includes tipping) is pre-completed with as much of the generic data as possible.
Customer: So you wouldn’t have one for my Kubota track loader then?
OSS (us): No, and like your Hino tipper, there will be specific safety of equipment issues with using the Kubota. But the documents help you know what that information is needed and where to get it.
As for the question of which safe work method statement fits best, I’d point you to our Skid Steer Loader SWMS.
Customer: What about cars? I have a Hilux Ute.
OSS (us): Same story, unfortunately, but we have a Driving Vehicle SWMS to get most of the pre-filling done for you.
Do you need a SWMS for the ute however? … [And we then discussed some of the relevant regulations.]
Customer: Would an industry SWMS pack suit me better?
OSS (us): Perhaps. If we go there, we’ll adjust the price to reflect the items you have already purchased. That might be an excellent way to go based on how the conversation is going.
As for the best match, you’d be best served by either the Earthmoving, the Construction or the Excavation SWMS Pack … [ at which point we discussed his particular needs more and narrowed down the best choice option. ]
Customer: What about attachments? I use a Slasher and Roto Rake.
OSS (us): Unfortunately, attachments have the same complication. Not only can they be a safety of equipment and personnel nightmare, but the makers don’t always provide the level of documentation they should, and there are so many options even the manufacturers don’t sufficiently identify appropriate safety controls.
That said, most plant, tools and attachments do have safety of equipment use instructions, as well as specifically recommended safety controls. You should add these to your SWMS; our instructions will tell you where to insert these.
You mentioned a slasher, so I should also say we do have a Slasher and Brushcutter SWMS, but that is for handheld versions. I mention it just in case it’s relevant.
Customer: What about Box Trailer documents?
OSS (us): No, nothing for that specifically, but the work processes for loading and unloading are covered in the Loading and Unloading Vehicles SWMS - if you need them.
We agreed it would have been better if he’d asked these questions up front. It’s a solid rule: If you are in ANY doubt, call us on 1800 304 336.
Regulation and the Safety of Equipment and People
Part of our conversation included specific plant and equipment regulation realities. Our customer found this enlightening, so a brief flyover might also be helpful to you. Here are some of the key talking points.
The Pain of Regulation
Firstly, when the topics of safety and equipment collide, sparks fly! Safety regulation is never simple, and it frequently involves ‘You’ve gotta be kidding?’ moments. It can feel like driving in flowing traffic with the Highway Patrol not far behind you. You’ve got to watch the road ahead to anticipate dangers, deal with other drivers, and get where you’re going, but you also find yourself glancing down at the speedo and being extra careful to think about what you’re doing. It can be excruciating - but regulations (like the Highway Patrol) are needed. The stakes are high!
Who is Responsible for the Safety of Equipment Operations?
Four points are worth recognising regarding the question of responsibility and liability under WHS/OH&S regulations.
Firstly, the standard WHS/OH&S global rules apply. This means the PCBU (person conducting the business or undertaking) bears ultimate and primary responsibility.
Secondly, the PCBU must, as far as is reasonably practicable, ensure that plant or equipment:
- Are not used for a task it was not designed for unless appropriate risk assessments and controls are implemented.
- Do not undergo unauthorised servicing or interference.
- Are not modified in any way that compromises safety.
- Are provided wherever they are required.
- Are moved safely when being relocated.
- Are stored safely and securely.
- Are in safe working order.
- Are maintained safely.
Third, when a person assumes management or control of the plant, they become what the WHS regulations call a ‘Duty Holder’. When they are in that role, they MUST manage any risks to health and safety associated with that plant.
Fourth (and finally), if your business is specifically involved in the provision or installation of plant, its maintenance, operation, testing, repair or other plant-specific tasks, you may have additional regulations to comply with (but these are beyond our consideration today).
Safety, People, Profit and Solutions
If you’re sensing the need for quality resources and systems and some professional help, you’re not alone. If that seems a little financially intimidating, that is also not unusual. This is why we’ve genuinely sought to bridge that gap, combining professional excellence at prices even small operators can manage.
Templated solutions can only address your needs so far. But even acknowledging that we are here to help you answer important questions before you buy, we are also here to support you afterwards.
Many of our templates are designed for specific plant and equipment, but as we’ve explained, creating unique resources for every possible item is simply impossible. Where you need help, we are only a phone call or email away.
You can explore our solutions on-site by investigating the following:
- Management systems for both WHS and OH&S standards.
- Management plans for specialised site and project solutions.
- Safety Management System Industry packs (e.g. excavation and earthmoving)
- SWMS Industry Packs, and
- Individual SWMS documents.
We hope this has been informative and encouraging. If you call us on 1800 304 336 you truly will receive assistance. We not only care about the safety of your equipment, your people and your profit, we also have the expertise to deliver the solutions you need - and just for the record, vinyl albums truly are a sound purchase (both puns intended).
We look forward to your call!