It'll be alright… is not all-right for Employee Health and Safety
Having worked in Cloud HR and Payroll for nearly 20 years, I thought I had a reasonable idea about WHS (Workplace Health and Safety). It was quickly evident that I needed to learn more. So, I booked myself into a course. I found a few areas surprising, both from a business and personal aspect. The most surprising of which was how the Aussie culture of, "it'll be alright" doesn't help.
A vital component of the training was the risk assessment process; the identification, assessment and treatment of risks. During this process, you assess risks against two areas, consequence and likelihood. As an exercise, we used an example that was right in front of us. The bags from all the attendees were scattered around the training room. What was the risk of the trainer falling over a bag during the session? Frankly, in the back of mind, I dismissed it. "It'll be alright," I thought with an eye-roll.
When we started to assess against Safework Australia recommended practices, I was surprised. Theoretically, we could have evaluated the potential consequences as “Catastrophic”, i.e. "Life-threatening injury or death," because the trainer could have smashed her head on the edge of a table and died. But that would have been a bit much. So we determined that a Minor consequence - resulting in First Aid treatment was more realistic. The trainer then stated she tripped over a bag at least a few times a week, even after she asked each class to put them up against the wall. That fit the likelihood definition of “Likely” as it had occurred previously. The overall rating for this risk came out as “Medium”. One step higher and the treatment plan would have required C-level sign-off. Throughout the day the class and I underestimated the risk rating of examples again and again.
Later we learnt there is a requirement under the WHS act for an organisation’s Officers to proactively manage WHS risks (I will touch on this further in a future blog). This information, and more made it clear one of the most significant threats to WHS is the “It’ll be alright” mindset.
Armed with this insight, albeit sheepishly, I look forward to taking my new perspective on workplace risks into my new role.
Here’s some food for thought; “How would your organisation treat a small tripping hazard like a workbag on the floor in your workplace?”
Discovery Consulting Group
We enable the digital platform of tomorrows business, to be more with less. We focus on systems to transform HR, Finance and Workplace Safety - from transactional to insightful. We do it right the first time, by embedding transparency, governance, mastery and most of all, a customer-first approach into everything we do.