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Workplace Safety and Safe Work Procedures on a Budget

Posted by Andrew Watters on

No safe work procedure operates in isolation. The demands of your business are complex and workplace safety is just one challenge amongst many. Certainly, workplace safety should be first among equals, but to lift it to a place of demi-god supremacy is absurd. Here at Occupational Safety Solutions, we recognise that fact. Today, we’ll look at WHS affordability, and we’ll candidly explain some factors worth considering before you make a purchase.

It pays to know:

  1. What you want.
  2. What you don’t want.
  3. How you’ll know you have what you want.
  4. What price you’re willing to pay to attain it.    

What You Want: Workplace Safety and a Bottle of Rum

Since it pays to know what you want, let’s have a chat about rum.

At Occupational Safety Solutions, we like to think of ourselves as an upper-middle shelf provider. In other words:

  • We’re not a Bundy Red Rum (which at $39, was cheapest at the time of publishing).
    • We’re more of a Diamond Reserve 151 Overproof (at $99) … Aaaah! 
    • We’re also not a 1996 Caroni (at $600/bottle) or a Flor de Cana (at $2.5K/bottle) - and we’re okay with that

      As an upper-middle shelf service provider, we’re smooth on the palette and thoroughly satisfying. There’s no choking involuntarily at the price, nor will you experience that deflating experience of buyers remorse. We’re a pleasant swirl, inhale and taste experience.

      We don’t try to be everything to everyone, nor do we build our business around any one customer. That’s what contractors do, and they can provide that level of service if you’re willing to pay for it.

      We also don’t compete with our cheaper competitors. We can’t provide quality on those margins, and we’ve chosen to not cater to customers who want blood out of a stone. We’ve learnt, as many in business learn, that when you work with people that have unreasonable expectations, they are never satisfied, and they’re painful to work with. We like to have good relationships with our clients, so we’re careful in this regard.

      Our prices are fair, our quality is high, and our support and update service is absolute   - which is probably what you want.

      What You Don’t Want: ‘Safe’ Work Procedures to Avoid

      Returning briefly to our rum analogy, you probably don’t want a gag-inducing, bottom shelf solution - and lawyers, please note, we’re not saying that’s true of Bundy Red. Firstly, price doesn’t always equate with quality. What’s more, a Bundy Red might be what you’re after - but in the field of work health and safety, that’s unlikely to be true.

      We experience the pointy end of workplace safety, or the ‘ouch’ end, when an incident or accident occurs. Whether it’s an incident, accident, injury, illness or fatality, these occurrences invariably provoke thought and analysis. And so they should! 

      These times clarify what we don’t want. 

      We don’t want:

      1. The human costs (to workers, children, family and more)
      2. The emotional trauma, 
      3. The add-on business costs and disruptions, and 
      4. The scalpel-like precision of the following Worksafe investigation, and
      5. The consequences in both the short-term and the long-term.

      Soul searching is appropriate and healthy because if someone got hurt, something went wrong. This is especially true if a contributing procedure was knowingly left undone. Those working beside or around an injured worker, as well as those who influence the workspace, usually wrestle with those feelings. 

      For business leaders who know they contributed to an injury, illness or fatality, the weight can be crushing. The internal anguish caused by severe and preventable accidents is difficult to measure. To know a short-term ‘saving’ or a short-sighted purchase decision caused such consequences would be a terrible thing. 

      You know you don’t want this. That’s obvious because you’re reading this article. If you didn’t care, you’d simply grab the cheapest resource on the market. But it’s still worth remembering that you’ve got emotions and skin in the game. 

      Three Common Errors

      You also want to avoid these three common errors: 

      1. A Minimalist Purchase:  Where the absolute minimum standard is the goal.
      2. The Too-Easy Purchase: Where too many fields are generically pre-filled.
      3. The Abdication Purchase: Where avoiding responsibility is the goal.

      Please note that these errors fall at both the expensive and the cheaper end of the spectrum. Nor is this just about money. Remember that:

      1. Minimalist ‘solutions’ are often cheap, but they are also inadequate. 
      2. Too-Easy ‘solutions’ can cause incidents and accidents.
      3. Too-Easy ‘solutions’ look like a labour-saver, but to Worksafe or a court, they can look like a failure to perform due diligence. 
      4. Abdication ‘solutions’ can happen when businesses hire a consultant to do everything for them (as opposed to working with them). Unfortunately, no consultant can bring enough local knowledge to remove business principles and leadership from the process. 

      All four errors are usually attempts to outsource duty of care or due diligence liabilities. This, however, is not possible!

      How You’ll Know: Workplace Safety Safely Done

      Deducing some lessons from the marketplace, as well as the errors just mentioned, we can see that a safe work procedure should be:

      1. Template-based to meet compliance requirements and facilitate ease of completion. 
      2. Intelligently designed to support and empower the safe work procedure in question,
      3. Delivered with advice that enables effective local customisation.
      4. Avoids responsibility-dodging generic ‘field-fillers’. If a template seems too good to be true, and it doesn’t make any demands on you, it’ll probably make HUGE demands on you later on.  
      5. Provided at the right price (which we’ll unpack more below).

      The Price is Right: Safe Work Procedure and a Toolbox Talk 

      Once you know what you want, what you don’t want, and what it looks like, the next and final question is, ”What price are you willing to pay?”

      This isn’t just about money - nor is it just about value for money. Let’s illustrate this by looking at Toolbox / Pre-Start Talks. We’ll rate a product’s price by its:

      1. Comparative value
      2. Ease of use
      3. Reproducibility
      4. Comprehensiveness
      5. Professional Integrity

      Consider the purchase of the following three Toolbox or Pre-Start Talk resources:

      The total outlay is $103.00 ex GST. 

      How does that outlay compare to the labour cost of the workers taking part in the meetings? How many hours of labour would equate to the expenditure on this resource? We can call this a Comparative Value Check.

      Comparatively speaking, the resource compares very favourably.

      These three resources are user-friendly, instantly downloadable, fully editable (in MSWord format), totally customisable and brandable. This is true of 99% of the resources we provide. We could call this an Ease of Use Check.

      The resources are easy to use. 

      Also common to almost all our resources, there are no ongoing fees or subscription dues, and you can reproduce and re-use them within your business entities operations. We might call this a Reproducibility Check.

      The resource is exceptionally reproducible.

      The resource is also comprehensive in its safe work procedure coverage. It covers (as you would expect):

      1. Aspects of safety and responsibility,
      2. Unsafe acts, conditions, incidents and near-miss reporting,
      3. Manual handling, 
      4. Risk assessments,
      5. Horseplay,
      6. Traffic control, barricades and warning devices,
      7. Housekeeping,
      8. Injury prevention (eye, ear etc.) and heat-related stress, 
      9. PPE and a range of types thereof,
      10. Tool selection and issues about particular tools,
      11. Working at height, excavation, trenching and confined space environments.
      12. Safe work procedure with cranes
      13. Fall arrest systems and harnesses.

      Whoever is delivering your Toolbox Talks will be comprehensively equipped. You will also be able to prove you exercised due diligence in the case of audit or Worksafe investigation. We’ll call this a Comprehensiveness Check.

      This resource is extremely comprehensive.

      We’ve filled out what we can, clearly explained and provided examples where we can’t, provided written guidance for those fields that require your input, and we’re also available via phone or email if you need guidance. The only other thing we could do for you is to put answers into fields that you, and you alone, can properly complete. Let’s call this a Professional Integrity Check - and this one is a personal favourite.

      This resource passes the Professional Integrity Test with flying colours.

      Integrity and Professionalism with Skin 

      We’ve identified that your purchase should be guided by: 

      1. What you want.
      2. What you don’t want.
      3. How you’ll know you have what you want.
      4. What price you’re willing to pay to attain it.    

      We also unpacked price by looking at:

      1. Comparative value,
      2. Ease of use,
      3. Reproducibility,
      4. Comprehensiveness, and
      5. Professional Integrity.

      To return to an earlier analogy, permit me to offer you an upper-middle shelf experience. At Occupational Safety Solutions (your Diamond Reserve 151 equivalent), we design every safe work procedure with lives in mind. We support workplace safety with personal and knowledgeable service. Our phone support is (usually) immediate. We also tell you what you NEED to hear (not just what you want to hear). We seek a professional relationship that lasts for years - not days. Finally, we covet and pursue a high standard of integrity. 

      We’ll pass the swirl, inhale and taste test.

      Occupational Safety Solutions is the real deal. Call 1800 304 336, and we’ll find the workplace safety and safe work procedures you’re seeking. Also, if you’d prefer, you can Request a Callback. Affordable workplace safety is what we do, and we take it very seriously!

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