While many workers in the construction industry work in the industry to avoid paperwork, the paperwar is now moving deeper into the industry than we have seen here before.
What many people don’t appreciate is the close working relationship WorkSafe has with ACC. ACC provides regular data updates to WorkSafe on work-related injuries, and WorkSafe uses this to target their visits.
With the increase in worker injuries and deaths in the construction industry since the new H&S Law came in, the MP and WorkSafe have a renewed focus on H&S compliance in the construction industry.
While the official communications externally to date have been relatively benign, the direct conversations with WorkSafe and the H&S consulting community have been significantly blunter.
This has had a clear indication on the change of approach, where WorkSafe can move to a ticket and fine approach like a traffic cop or a parking warden without any further adjustments in legislation required.
Which for the smaller business operator makes life somewhat more precarious as this takes away the 28-day leeway for compliance that we have had from WorkSafe to date.
So the key things we are seeing and expect to see in the next few months:
- A change to on the spot fines rather than the notice to re-mediate and then fine you if you have not fixed it. This will become we’ll be back in 28 days, and if it’s not fixed, we’ll give you another ticket.
- The management of site safety needs to be your top priority if you operate in this space. SSSP management, disclosure of risks you bring to the places you work and ensuring Job Safety Analysis is done before commencing all work.
- The follow on with this is you need to ensure you are not exposing yourself to contractor risk by having contractors operate under your plan and you either deny them work or delay them starting until they can provide you with a complying H&S plan to ensure you have your risk and exposure covered.
- We are seeing fines in the area of an average NZ house mortgage being handed out for broken bones, so I’m deadly serious about mitigating this risk for you. The fines associated with H&S conduct it is not one we can insure. We can help with insurance for legal defence costs and reparation, but we can not insure you for fines.
All of that may sound onerous and a lot of hard work. If you are well organised, it is not as cumbersome as you may think.
What you need to focus on:
- If you run or manage a site, you need to review and update your SSSP daily.
- If you are entering a controlled site, you need to provide them with a copy of your on-site disclosure and probably a copy of your H&S Plan.
- Moreover, for all work a JSA, Job Safety analysis needs to be completed by the supervisor of the job, not the site, and this needs to be signed off by ALL of the workers involved and then signed off by the site manager BEFORE commencing work.
The big piece in this is the JSA, it is the painful piece, and yes it does get in the road of the work. However, it is this one piece of paper which is about stopping the injuries and deaths in construction that WorkSafe will be focused on.
The steps to a JSA that drive safety at work
- Assess the tasks required and the associated risks
- Eliminate, Mitigate, or Manage those risks with defined controls
- Secure agreement from all workers about the tasks and the approach to ensure there is no misunderstanding or miscommunication
- Sign it off once agreed and get on with the work.
What you will find is that many of the regular risks that create injury will be identified, and your creative solutions to minimising them will drive change in how you work.
An example is the move to battery tools rather than 240v power tools, the cables are gone, and this has removed the electrical shock hazard and reduced the trip hazard on sites.
If you need help with unpacking your H&S in a flexible and workable way, give me a call, and we can discuss what you may need.
Jon-Paul Hale is an adviser operating Willowgrove Consulting Ltd with both an engineering and financial services background. J-P specialises in the management of risk in small businesses, with over 20 years of experience in these areas. He can manage H&S, ACC, and insurance and finance risk in your business with you in a way that is both understandable and cost effective for you. Phone 092158998 and www.willowgrove.co.nz