ZERO INCIDENTS: ten tips to work towards a 'risk free' workplace

Chris Beasley | Safety Navigator

Arriving at zero incidents should be the goal of every workplace.

But how realistic is it to believe zero incidents can be achieved? And what are the costs and benefits of aiming for that outcome?

Workplace Incidents cost franchisees in many ways, including loss of valuable staff members, high insurance premiums, and potential fines by state regulators.

Franchisors, whilst generally not affected by workers compensation premium increases where incidents occur in franchisee workplaces, still suffer when workplace incidents occur. A loss of brand reputation where franchisors are found to have been to blame for workplace incidents occurring through a lack of proper systems severely impacts the bottom line. That loss can also make it harder to attract new franchisees, and the franchise company and its directors can be fined or even jailed if safe work investigators find fault after a serious incident in a franchisee workplace.

So, finding ways to work towards zero incidents should be a shared goal for both the franchisor and franchisee, given the effects of incidents can have a serious impact on both.

Safety Navigator provides cloud-based health and safety systems to thousands of franchise businesses, and we often get asked for advice on what can be done to reduce or remove the risk of an incident occurring altogether. So, we've come up with a list of ten tips we'd like to share here.

1. Commitment - get everyone in the organisation on board

This may seem obvious and possibly very difficult to achieve, but when every person in the organisation is committed to a safe and healthy work environment, morale will be boosted, productivity will be increased, and customers will notice. The commitment must start at the very top - directors, and CEO’s need to publicise their intention to commit to safety. A way to do this is to produce a clear, concise (possibly only one page) health and safety policy statement, signed by those people at the very top of the organisation. We've even seen this message communicated in the form of a video. However, this message is conveyed, it shows everyone else how serious health and safety needs to be taken.

2. Training

Again, this may seem obvious, but we've seen many instances where staff working at franchisee locations simply are equipped to perform the work their role entails. Creating a training plan to identify training needs is a vital step in ensuring staff have the skills to be able to do the job required of them. A good place to start is by asking staff what training they think they may need. Again, we've seen some franchise organisations train their staff by filming a worker undertake the job, then distributing that film and a short questionnaire for all staff to review in their own time.

3. Reward

We've seen first-hand how rewards can assist in motivating an organisations' people to help to reduce incidents. One franchise organisation client of ours rewards key contributors to health and safety on a quarterly basis by gifting travel vouchers and gold class movie tickets. They promote these initiatives through their intranet.

4. Immediate Action

Where hazards are identified or incidents do occur, immediate action is required. The first few hours after the event are critical and promoting immediate action throughout the organisation further demonstrates to all the level of commitment, which further assists in preventing future incidents.

5. Feedback

Ask for input from every stakeholder in the organisation, not just staff. Ask customers, suppliers, and franchisees for their ideas on improving health and safety and promote that feedback to all.

6. Teachable moments

When hazards and risks are identified, franchise organisations need to do more than action the controls. Use these hazards as a learning experience for all. This helps all workers become more alert and sensitive to the potential risks of the job.

7. Take Charge

Franchisors should work closely with franchisees to set high importance on setting a good example and following health and safety procedures without question. An example is ensuring the franchisee wears the correct PPE. Franchisees should also be trained to lead efforts in identifying hazards and controlling risks.

8. Incident Prevention is Ongoing

Health and safety is never 'finished'. Franchisees should run regular workplace inspections to identify hazards. They should also review the risk register regularly to ensure the same hazards aren't appearing again and again. Using a health and safety management system is crucial in having this data in an organised way.

9. Set Standards for Performance

Ensure all in the organisation have access to the group health and safety policy and procedures manual and that franchisees have a health and safety noticeboard in their workplaces, displaying the key policies from that manual.

10. Involve Workers

An example of this was found in one of our franchise group clients where Franchisees assign their workers the responsibility of recording the monthly workplace inspection. Every worker is given a turn in conducting this crucial activity and with that 'ownership' you start to see a reduction of hazards and a reduction in workplace incidents.

Why not give it a go?

According to the Safe Work Australia, there were just over 106,000 incidents last year resulting in serious workers compensation claims, where workers were badly injured and missed work (or will never return). The most common cause of these workers compensation claims was body stressing (33 per cent), followed by slips, trips and falls (24 per cent).

In the franchising sector, there were just over seven incidents leading to serious workers compensation claims for every 1,000 workers - or to put it differently, on average, every franchising group in Australia would experience just over two serious workers compensation claims every month.

And each of those incidents has the capacity to affect not only the injured worker but can cost the franchise group (and its officers/directors) millions of dollars.

So, whilst it may take time, and cost some money to implement a strong health and safety system in a franchise group, not doing so will inevitably cost so much more.

And in terms of cost, we've found that many of our franchise group clients install a 'safety levy' into their franchise agreements. This means that the franchisee, not the franchisor, pays the cost of implementing and maintaining a health and safety management system. And because of the economies of scale, we've found that the cost of the safety levy to the franchisee is around 75 cents per day.

 

Safety Navigator delivers cloud-based safety systems and support to thousands of Australian and New Zealand businesses, reducing the number of workplace incidents by simplifying compliance.

www.safetynavigator.com.au