Have you got a simple process in place that captures when something goes wrong (or almost goes wrong) so you know what needs to be fixed in your workplace?
Why have a reporting system
You may think the less you hear about work health and safety, the better — but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A lack of reporting doesn’t necessarily mean your workplace is safe; instead, it often indicates:
- there’s no system in place for workers to report these issues to you
- your workers may feel uncomfortable raising safety issues. Perhaps they believe you’ll think they’re a nuisance or a complainer, and speaking up may jeopardise their job (especially if they’re casual). It’s easier to say nothing.
You should welcome reports of hazards, incidents, near misses and injuries, because they enable you to take action and reduce the likelihood of future injury, illness or incidents.
Types of reporting systems
You don’t need an elaborate system for reporting hazards: it could be a form (there’s one in the Safety Management Toolkit; see Resources below) or a dedicated notebook or whiteboard in the lunch room that is used and regularly checked.
Encourage your workers to use whatever system you use, then make sure you check it. It’s important that:
- your workers are comfortable and confident to report hazards as soon as they notice them
- that you, your managers and supervisors are prepared to listen and act.
If you don’t at least try to fix everything they report, your workers will become reluctant to report problems.
Once you have a reporting system in place, tell your workers:
- what must be reported and how they are to do so
- what will be done with the information you’ve gathered.
Report back to your workers
You should regularly report back to your workers on your safety performance: how you’re meeting your safety objectives and targets, sharing the results of any safety audits/reviews/inspections. These ‘big picture’ reports can:
- remind everyone of the importance of safety, and how much your business prioritises it
- provide positive reinforcement of people’s safe actions and behaviours
- communicate emerging trends, positive and negative.
Share these reports at staff meetings and safety committee meetings, and display them around your workplace on noticeboards.
Your annual report
Finally, don’t forget your corporate annual report, which is often the public presentation of your company’s performance and achievements.
Include a section on work health and safety, highlighting the matters we’ve covered here, plus your safety targets and performance, achievements, outcomes of safety audits/reviews/inspections, and how you’re resourcing and planning these.
By publishing this information, you’re demonstrating publicly that you rank the safety of your workers alongside profitability, quality, customer satisfaction and other business outcomes.