Your Safety is Only as Strong as Your Weakest WHS Procedures – Occupational Safety Solutions
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Your Safety is Only as Strong as Your Weakest WHS Procedure

Posted by Andrew Watters on

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the same way, your safety system is only as strong as your weakest WHS procedure. We've written this article to help you conduct an efficient review of your WHS procedures, see where you're weak, and strengthen what you can. We identified five arenas of safety procedure where you need to be strong - and where weakness can devastate. We hope you're empowered and inspired.

We identified these five arenas by taking a walk through the Occupational Safety Solutions (OSS) blog since July 2016. Since this article touches on 20 separate articles, it's also a great way to get an overview of close to four years of resources. Then you can read the ones that are relevant to you.

The five arenas we will focus on are:

  1. Mindsets 
  2. Methods
  3. Leadership
  4. Currency
  5. Affordability

We profile each arena, to inspire you, help you focus and empower solutions.

WHS Procedure Arena 1 | Mindsets

It's easy to feel like work health and safety procedures slow things down, complicate production, and reduce profit. These are understandable perceptions, but they're also wrong - if you're implementing WHS well.

There are three essential mindsets that we'll focus on:

  1. A quality-focused mindset,
  2. A competitive mindset, and
  3. A profit mindset.

We introduced the quality mindset in April 2017. We did a six-part expose on design methods and quality assurance procedures. We gave you a look behind the curtain, so you could see what we do. We also sought to empower you with ideas that you could implement in your own operations. 

Yes, we wanted you to appreciate the specialised work we do, but we were also casting a light on WHS procedures, processes and resources that instil and support quality. The relevant articles (of that six-part series) can be accessed here and here.

The next arena was a competitive mindset because while quality assurance is helpful, you also need to win tenders. This highly competitive process can promote corner-cutting, even with workplace health and safety. 

But loose WHS procedures don't help you build momentum in tendering success. This is why in July 2018, we addressed a variety of WHS resources and the role they play in winning tenders. Topics included WHS Management Systems and Plans, the role of templated solutions, AS 4801 and ISO 45001 compliance, and third-party certification. That article was called Win Your Building and Construction Tender.

Rounding out this arena with a profit mindset, we published "Safety Procedures Help Your People and Your Profit" in December 2019. We addressed a variety of workplace safety and culture issues that impact profitability - including the mistaken mindset that WHS procedures are an impediment to profit.

If any of these 'mindsets' stretch your perspective, the relevant article might be worth a read (and as always, if you think we're mistaken, let us know). Just click on the appropriate link.

WHS Procedure Arena 2 | Methods

Once you've addressed problem mindsets, taking a deliberate look at your methods is the next logical step. To do this, we suggest you:

  1. Identify how things ought to be, 
  2. Create a plan to tighten things up, and
  3. Put that plan into action.

Identifying how things ought to be isn't simple. Workplace health and safety needs are shaped by the specifics of your business and project(s), and pulling together all the necessary elements can feel like assembling 101 items of different IKEA furniture - at the same time and without instructions.

To help with this, we published two articles addressing this problem. In April 2017, we showed you how to assemble your WHS safety resource manual, and we reviewed the effectiveness of some other WHS procedural resources. Then, in August 2019, we cleared up a common area of confusion, explaining the difference between a WHS Management System (WHSMS) and a WHS Management Plan (WHSMP).

Creating a plan comes next. To this end, our July 2016 article should prove helpful. Using the example of our WHSMP template, we explained (in brief) how four vital aspects impact the 100 plus pages and 14 different focus areas covered. From higher-level WHS policy creation through to SWMS and review processes, we wanted to empower your effective planning. 

The four WHS 'vitals' were:

  1. Accuracy in your terminology, 
  2. Responsibility, 
  3. The breadth of coverage, and 
  4. Customisations.

You can find that article here.

WHS Procedure Arena 3 | Leadership

Once you have your plan, it's time to lead. People need to be led and supervised. Thankfully, leaders are made, not born, so we include leadership tactics, strategies and principles in our writing, our resource production, and our consultations. 

In "How to Lead a 2020 WHS Policies and Procedures Revival" we examined the role of leadership. We proposed five efficient and achievable strategies and addressed eight domains of workplace leadership. If you'd like to read up on those specifics, the Part One and Part Two articles can be viewed by following the links.

Finally, no discussion of leadership would be complete without addressing the issues of inconvenience, absentmindedness and defiance. These three factors are often at play when a WHS procedure is not followed. This is why, in the second half of 2018, we worked with Safetyminder software to bring you a digital phone-based WHS platform - producing convenience, sending reminders, removing excuses, and as a bonus, reducing everyone's administrative burdens. You can read that article here.

WHS Procedure Arena 4 | Currency

Keeping up with the WHS legislation and regulations can be challenging. The quantity of change is not that great, but when change does happen, it is usually significant, and the compliance can be burdensome. 

Four areas of recent or resisted change include:

  1. The Environment (Sep 2016)
  2. Wiring Rules (AS/NZS 3000:2018) (May 2019)
  3. RCS, or Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) (Jul 2019), and
  4. Coronavirus (Apr 2020)

Since these four topics won't apply to everybody, we won't delve into them here, but you can follow the links to read more.

Change WILL happen - for all of us. For this reason, we work hard to keep you informed of changes to legislation or regulation - especially if it affects a product you previously purchased from us. Often, we will provide a complimentary update if the changes are not too cost-prohibitive at our end. We can't guarantee this service will cover everything, but it sure will help.

If you read your emails and don't change your email address, you should be able to stay abreast of the changes. 

WHS Procedure Arena 5 | Affordability

We've been working on, and in, your business for this entire article, but now it's crunch time. We can correct mindsets, refine methods, exercise leadership, and keep up with all the changes, but if we don't do all of this affordably, there'll be no profits, and there'll be no business.

Therefore, we suggest that you access WHS resources that are:

  1. Fairly priced.
  2. Quality assured,
  3. Fully compliant with industry-relevant standards.

We also suggest you use a supplier that is solutions minded and genuinely helpful. That means they'll answer any relevant question (not just the ones that lead to big-ticket sales) and they're willing to explain and clarify issues, even when it costs them a sale. We'd also suggest you look for someone who wants to take your call, and has the competency to answer your questions.

We are such a supplier - and we can back that claim!

We've never written an article about our prices, and we probably never will, but I believe any rational analysis of our products will show our pricing is fair.

Our standards are high and fully compliant. We explained this in the six-part expose we did in 2017 (which we mentioned at the start of this article). There's nothing casual about what we do. If you want to read those articles, you'll find them here, here and here.

We'll answer any relevant question, even if it won't result in a big sale. An example of this was explaining what a Safe Work Method Statement was, in November 2017. It's a minutia topic that doesn't make much money, but it is a question that deserves an answer.

We're willing to lose a sale if integrity dictates it. It's difficult to quantify how many sales we've lost by providing honest answers, especially to people that thought they needed something but didn't. Maybe I need to write about some of these, but I haven't done it yet. Our reputation for honesty is rock-solid.

We welcome your phone call! That was our message to you in September last year. We want you to explain your circumstances, so we can both rest assured that you've got the optimum solution.

Bringing These WHS Procedure Arenas Together

By focusing on each of these arenas, you can better prioritise, discriminate, optimise your use of resources, and awaken your creative and problem-solving attributes. 

Remembering that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, we encourage you to review your WHS procedures, see where you're weak, and strengthen what you can. Mindsets, methods, leadership, currency and affordability are all worthy of your attention.

If you have questions about these issues or any of the articles and products referenced here, call 1800 304 336 or Request a Callback by completing the form online. When I tell people my job is keeping people and businesses alive - I mean it! I'm serious about supporting you!


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