As identified by the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022, developed by Safe Work Australia, an effective systematic management of risks results in improved worker health and safety and productivity.
To mark the 2018 World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, we reflect on the importance of maintaining health and safety standards at all levels of operation.
As is the case for many businesses, one of the biggest challenges we face at Mainmark is the lack of nationalisation for health and safety policies. Different states maintain different legislation around health and safety. To combat this, Mainmark has Regional Operations Managers who are experts in their state or territory’s requirements. In Australia, we aim to adopt whatever the highest level of controls are for risk mitigation. Typically, this is a good approach as you’ll meet or exceed the expectations of less-strict regions, particularly internationally. We also use a variety of contracted experts in situations where we have identified a need for specialist advice.
An independent assessment of a company’s operations can also help to raise the health and safety bar at all levels of the business. Mainmark is among only a handful of organisations in our industry that holds a 2015 ISO certification for Environmental Management and Quality Management. We comply locally with AS/NZS4801:2008 Occupational Health and Safety Management. This means that our processes around health and safety are of the highest standard and audited internally and externally on a regular basis.
Specific work environments naturally contributes to an organisation’s workplace health and safety policies and procedures. As an example, Mainmark operates in environments demanding the strictest safety requirements internationally, including mines, airports and munitions depots. Entering these sites often involves specialised training to understand how to work in confined spaces, handle specialty equipment and manage risks when working around chemicals and other hazards. Our equipment, personnel protective equipment, vehicles, materials and processes are all of a standard which is required to work on sites that have stringent safety criteria. Mainmark uses this as its standard approach to all projects, from large commercial to smaller residential applications. The crew and rig that is inducted and certified to work in an underground mine is often the same crew that will be lifting a small driveway in the suburbs the next day. We do not drop our standards, or approach to any project, regardless of scale.
Ultimately, it comes down to individuals in the organisation all playing their part to create a safer working environment, and sharing their knowledge to minimise incidents. Our team works in many varied areas of the construction and engineering industry, which requires inductions into dozens of sites in diverse conditions and locations each year. This collective experience exposes our staff to a range of processes and technologies in construction health and safety throughout the region, and ensures individuals are adaptable to different environments.
It’s also important not to lose sight of the impact fatigue can have on health and safety at work, as well as productivity. Mainmark crews drive many kilometres every month, so scheduling our jobs becomes a very important part of preventing fatigue and its negative outcomes. Safe Work Australia provides a helpful Guide for managing the risk of fatigue for managers across a range of industries.
Putting policies into practice effectively can be further enhanced by facilitating an open dialogue between management and those on the ground. Being able to identify health and safety issues quickly is a key way to improve work processes and manage risk. At Mainmark, field staff are equipped with the latest generation of mobile devices capable of recording incidents, or any safety related observations. These are uploaded live and the system notifies not only the persons who are legally responsible, but also the entire senior management team. This level of visibility, achieved instantaneously across the business is a primary tool for communication and is considered industry best-practice.
With this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work promoting the importance of improving safety and health for young workers, and generations to come, we need to acknowledge that leadership is the key. It is essential we provide our employees with easy access to the tools they need to understand their Work Health and Safety (WHS) rights and responsibilities. Likewise, having procedures relating directly to the safe performance of duties, in a manner that is compliant with the relevant legislative and regulatory codes. Additionally, encouraging communication between staff and management can both create a safer workplace and identify ways to improve daily workflows. This approach might just lead to innovation across the wider business too.