163 – Keeping Safety Simple Series Part 1: Getting the right safety systems in place

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Establishing The Right Safety Systems For Your Business

In this series, Matt Jones and Sean Connolly go through the different factors in building out simple and correct safety systems for businesses.

According to Shane, every business, at the very minimum, a workplace health and safety policy should be in place.

This encourages people within and outside of your company to recognize your business as one that takes these important things into consideration.

“The Wrong Safety Systems Are Those That Don’t Fit Your Business”

In this podcast, Matt asked a very important question to Sean about the wrong safety systems.

Sean emphasizes that it is important for you to know the nature and needs of your work to come up with a relevant safety system.

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Matt Jones: [00:00:01] Hello listeners and welcome back to Tool box Talks on the site podcast. Today, you are joining me with my co-host Shayne Connolly from keep it simple safety Shane. Welcome back.

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:13] Hi mate, thanks for having me again.

Matt Jones: [00:00:15] Shayne. You were a guest on the show all the way back in was

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:22] I

Matt Jones: [00:00:22] That was

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:23] Don’t remember it was

Matt Jones: [00:00:24] It.

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:24] A long

Matt Jones: [00:00:24] Oh

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:24] Time

Matt Jones: [00:00:24] You

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:24] Ago

Matt Jones: [00:00:24] Know what it was. It was June 2016. So that was two years ago pretty much

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:29] A

Matt Jones: [00:00:29] More or less to the to the week. That’s funny.

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:32] Synchronicity.

Matt Jones: [00:00:33] There you go. Well it’s good to have you back on the show because that’s a long time to go without health and safety. So let’s try and do a cracking job at making an unsexy topic sexy.

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:46] I haven’t succeeded really at that yet but

Matt Jones: [00:00:48] Well look

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:48] I am

Matt Jones: [00:00:49] You’ve got

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:49] Trying

Matt Jones: [00:00:49] Your new microphone now so you certainly sound like you know what is it the voice of a velvet panther or something on that list.

Shayne Connolly: [00:00:59] I’m not going there I’m just not going there. I’ll tell you a story about that one day when we’re not on air.

Matt Jones: [00:01:06] We’re not on air? Good idea. So Shayne anyway we’ve out we’re here today. We’re talking about oh H&S W.H.S. once again and we have titled this series, Keeping Safety Simple which of course ties into your business. Keep it simple safety and we’re talking about three things. The first episode is going to be getting the right safety systems in place and as well as you know you’re part of the community we’ve had a lot of conversations recently around systems and procedures and everyone in the group is pretty mad for them so I think that is going to be a pretty popular episode. The second episode we’re going be talking about responding to incidents correctly which we’ve never actually done before so I think that’s kind of a big thinkers. I mean I’ve certainly worked in companies where people have been injured and it wasn’t managed properly and as we set off air before I can it can also almost be the end of a lot of companies if it’s not done correctly so that will be a good one. Third and final episode we will be talking about how to move the business forward after an incident takes place. So this is exciting. I’m I’m keen to hear your wisdom on these topics. Now Shayne just before we jump in for the listeners that are not familiar with you are can you give us a bit of run down to you and to your business, please.

Shayne Connolly: [00:02:28] Ah well I guess my background is pretty varied. Like a lot of people in business I started out a long time ago in I.T. first and then been in safety now for almost 10 years. I worked a lot of big companies the high risk stuff mining construction and four years five years ago nearly now. We started our own business because the main reason really was because we wanted to make safety simple for people working in the corporate world. Everything is very complicated and it just made sense to me that business didn’t really need that. And hence the business was born. Simple as that really.

Matt Jones: [00:03:18] So what sort of stuff do you guys do.

Shayne Connolly: [00:03:20] We do well we do a whole range of different things but our core business is helping small business you know trades small workshops less than sort of 50 employees to put systems in place safety systems policies procedures and manage their safety going forward whether it be in our cloud based platform or whether it be a paper based system we help people put those systems in place customized for their business and help them to keep on top of things

Matt Jones: [00:03:56] Yeah, cool.

Shayne Connolly: [00:03:56] Moving forward.

Matt Jones: [00:03:57] So in this first episode Shayne and we’re going to be talking about getting the right safety systems in place. Now I imagine that encapsulates quite a vast array of areas to cover and things you know things that people business owners need to consider. Many of which probably would be quite foreign to people. I mean I’ve worked on some for you know you do obviously you’ve got you know two walks talks and you’ve got your danger reports and all that sort of carry on. But what what what are some of the, I suppose diving into it now you know what who who are really speaking to here is this more directed at business owners or the site supervisors Forman’s leading hands that kind of thing.

Shayne Connolly: [00:04:39] Well it’s sort of for anybody in a position of authority I guess is the

Matt Jones: [00:04:43] Yeah

Shayne Connolly: [00:04:43] Right way to put it.

Matt Jones: [00:04:44] The management

Shayne Connolly: [00:04:45] If you’re the owner Yeah. So because under the current workplace safety laws certainly in Australia and New Zealand you know if you’re responsible for managing people you’re part of that system so so that’s when it becomes extra important because it’s something that you can be held accountable for

Matt Jones: [00:05:05] Mhmm..

Shayne Connolly: [00:05:05] In a court of law. So that’s really who these systems. I mean the systems are good for a business full stop but this is more directed at making sure there is a way to do things. That is the right way I guess.

Matt Jones: [00:05:24] I mean look there is really a responsibility I think on everyone is in there to ensure that the workplace is safe and that your co-workers and colleagues and friends and associates and whatever are operating in a matter that is deemed safe. I mean look I hate to use the term common sense but I mean a lot of it is common sense isn’t it. The problem is I supposed common sense is an overly common.

Shayne Connolly: [00:05:47] Well part of the problem is you’re right it’s not always common but the other part is that people think of it like a separate entity. So when you when I talk about making safety part of your business that’s literally what you should try to do. So you have best practice for things like your arm you’re in invoicing and your accounting this is best practice for workplace health and safety. So it’s trying to incorporate all the things you need into how you do business normally rather than having an added appendage that you know that is the safety thing.

Matt Jones: [00:06:24] Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about why this is important I mean obviously you know I suppose at the end of the day here we’re talking about protecting the business but I’d like to know a little bit more as to some of the reasons why it’s important to have these systems in place. Either that being for the purpose of an audit or a builder or the fact when an incident happens like why we need do this.

Shayne Connolly: [00:06:50] Well there’s of course there are a variety of reasons but

Matt Jones: [00:06:53] And what

Shayne Connolly: [00:06:53] The

Matt Jones: [00:06:53] Are they?

Shayne Connolly: [00:06:55] (Laughs) So first and foremost it is to protect the business. Every business should have policies and procedures to let people know that a what the expectation is so sometimes the simplest reason for having this sort of stuff is so that your workers and your managers supervisors ever know what they’re supposed to do if there’s an incident or what’s meant to happen when you know x y z happens that’s really the crux of it just like you would put a process in place for your invoices. You want to know that if X happens then Y is the answer.

Matt Jones: [00:07:30] Mhmm..

Shayne Connolly: [00:07:30] So out in the field that’s also what people want to know. You know for work or find something that’s not right then what are they supposed to do? You know and you can’t rely on that common sense that you were talking about before because common sense tells you you talk to your supervisor.

Matt Jones: [00:07:48] Right.

Shayne Connolly: [00:07:49] Having a policy and a procedure it just outlines that in big bold letters that that’s what you’re meant to do.

Matt Jones: [00:07:58] What’s the what’s the um the framework? Shayne, behind and this is the ongoing battle I think with policies and procedures in general. But you know what’s the ideal framework behind getting people to comply with these policies and making sure they’re following and correctly and you know what’s the accountability or what are you mean what do you see that works best.

Shayne Connolly: [00:08:23] Like I said the best way I mean a lot of this comes from the top in your business if you talk about safety like it’s the ugly cousin that no one invites to the barbecue then that’s how everybody feels about safety and your business. So leading from the front is the best way to get people to do what you want them to do. And that goes for more than safety obviously but that’s the crux of it. If you treat it seriously and show that it’s serious to you then other people will treat it seriously too. And so that’s the first thing. I mean giving people access to the systems that cloud systems are great for that. It’s always on tap in their phone or their tablet. They can look up whatever they need and encouraging the right response. I’m not a big stick person. I would much prefer people use positive reinforcement rather than the negative reinforcement. So if you see somebody doing the right thing reinforce it by bringing it up at the meetings. That kind of that’s the stuff that really gets people because your system is is a system like anything else you it’ll only work how effective it is is proportionate to how much effort you make it

Matt Jones: [00:09:45] Yep

Shayne Connolly: [00:09:46] Put into it making it work.

Matt Jones: [00:09:47] Yep yep yep yep. So when we’re talking about I suppose we call this getting the right safety systems in place. What are the wrong safety systems?

Shayne Connolly: [00:10:00] That’s an excellent question.

Shayne Connolly: [00:10:03] The wrong safety systems are systems that don’t fit your business so I won’t mention any names but there are lots of places where you can download templates and systems that you can buy online. And whilst technically they are full of all the right information if you don’t go through and edit it and make it suit your business then you’re really just stringing yourself up because if you say that you’re going to do X Y and Z in your business and that’s you’re signed off policy or procedure then that’s what you have to do. Whether it suits your business or not. So the first and foremost thing is to have something that suits your business if you don’t do confined space work then you need any policies and procedures about confined space but if that’s the core of your business then you need more than just a couple of lines you

Matt Jones: [00:10:55] Right

Shayne Connolly: [00:10:55] Need serious policies and procedures around that particular area. So having something that fits your business is the real key and not just because it makes sense to do that but because it will make the system work better if it fits your business.

Matt Jones: [00:11:13] Of course. And so you know you’re right it’s the same old story with most things you can always go and find templates and stuff. The magic really happens when you can take those templates and customize them to your business and it all becomes relevant and things actually start working.

Shayne Connolly: [00:11:29] Well it makes sense to people then

Matt Jones: [00:11:30] Right.

Shayne Connolly: [00:11:30] You know people look at these some of those documents and just don’t even bother because it’s complex and it’s hard for them to understand. You know someone was saying to me the other day that in the construction industry in particular you’re really talking about on average a year 10 literacy level. So we’re not talking about you know I know a lot of these guys and they’re great guys but they’re not scholars. They

Matt Jones: [00:11:58] Right

Shayne Connolly: [00:11:58] Don’t want to read what are lawyers written

Matt Jones: [00:12:00] Right.

Shayne Connolly: [00:12:00] They want they want something in plain English that they can understand.

Matt Jones: [00:12:04] Yeah.

Shayne Connolly: [00:12:05] And that’s the other side of having you know the right safety systems. It’s something you can understand as well as everyone else.

Matt Jones: [00:12:13] Shayne with the safety systems that when we talk about you know standard operating procedures and business systems or policies or whatever they typically refer to the roles and responsibilities within an organisation which more more often than not stems down from the organizational chart or should anyway you got your own chart. You’ve got your department’s roles, you’ve got responsibilities etc.. Is it a civil framework for the safety systems or are the safety systems more of a canvas?

Shayne Connolly: [00:12:47] Now that the safety system should be exactly follow along in that in the ideal world you would have job descriptions that encompass those roles and responsibilities as well as having them in your safety manual or whatever you want to call it because that’s the key part is to outline what people’s responsibilities are in the business. So if you’re a worker you have to follow the procedures if you’re a manager you have to enforce them and monitor them you know

Matt Jones: [00:13:16] Yeah.

Shayne Connolly: [00:13:16] That kind of stuff.

Matt Jones: [00:13:18] So is that kind of when you say that do you mean relevant to. The job role or the task at hand. How are you sort of more referring to.

Shayne Connolly: [00:13:27] It’s more their job role. So you I mean it’s part of your induction for example our inductions include your responsibilities inside the business so and in general everybody has the same sort of core responsibilities to follow the procedures to report incidents to do this to do so. So everyone has those and then if you’re a manager or a supervisor you sort of get a few extra ones on top of that. In general.

Matt Jones: [00:13:55] Because obviously I’m voting trades before and I found that a lot of a well back then. Mind you it was a fair while ago. But, I’ll be it like a lot of the policies and a lot of the things that we were doing Safe Work Method statements all that kind of stuff at all typically referred to an individual task that we then carried out and then that task wasn’t necessarily. Wasn’t Neff’s necessarily handed to people within certain job roles it was just more anyone that’s actually doing that could it be the predecessor of a tradesman or whatever.

Shayne Connolly: [00:14:35] Yeah. And so that’s more in a task specific risk management. So a SWIM’s or a safe operating procedure or a safe work instruction. Those type of documents which are important parts of having a safety system do refer to although SWIM’s can have multiple levels of responsibility so it can be assigned to the job foreman or the operators or the equipment or people who operate the plant. So

Matt Jones: [00:15:05] Yeah.

Shayne Connolly: [00:15:06] You can specify but in general yes they are more specific to the task. But again the same the same responsibilities are encapsulated across the business as far as workplace health and safety goes. This not you don’t disregard those core responsibilities for a specific task. They are just and and by default. They are not mentioned specifically in that task. So when you well for example in our system when you do the induction your your responsibilities are explained to you. They permeate through all parts of the business irrespective of what you’re doing or where you’re doing it.

Matt Jones: [00:15:51] Okay. So in regard to and I know you you mentioned templates all this kind of stuff that we’re talking about getting the right safety systems in place. What are some of the fundamental systems that every single business needs needs to have as a as a foundation

Shayne Connolly: [00:16:10] So every business should have at the very minimum a workplace health and safety policy.

Matt Jones: [00:16:15] Okay.

Shayne Connolly: [00:16:15] So a policy is just a statement of your position as a business so in effect you’re saying workplace health and safety is important to us. What we’re going to do as a business is X Y Z or what employees need to do is being you know A B C then that’s how we’re going to achieve good workplace health and safety practice.

Matt Jones: [00:16:38] Yeah. Gotcha.

Shayne Connolly: [00:16:39] So generally like a one pager sort of thing and then behind that to put the system behind that piece of paper so to speak. You have a workplace health and safety manual or safety management plan or any number of other names that it’s called. And it literally outlines your thing how are you going to manage risk what to do if there’s an incident what to do if there’s an emergency what happens when somebody is injured returning to work. All of these kind of things have occur. Well anything from a paragraph to several pages depending on your business about what happens in that situation. So it’s literally like a handbook. So if if a happens then do be you know. So and once you’ve got that in place then you really have got the crux of it sorted out. You can get much more elaborate and much more complex and add in things like safe work procedures and some businesses require swims for high risk work or you can go above and beyond and get certified systems which are to Australian standard or international standard if you want to

Matt Jones: [00:17:58] Okay

Shayne Connolly: [00:17:59] Which are much more complex and you know seriously audited against. But but that’s the crux of their policy. And then you have procedures based around individual parts of the business like risk management.

Matt Jones: [00:18:13] I’m curious. I mean obviously we’re talking largely to well pretty much entirely to trade based businesses. However you know in today’s landscape a lot of trade based businesses have a large component of their organisation which is not out there swinging hammers along the tools. How does the safety systems and procedures apply to say a more managerial office based scenario.

Shayne Connolly: [00:18:40] Well the beauty of having a proper or the right safety system is that it applies across the board so the manual handling procedure is the same whether you are in the office or whether you’re out in the field you know don’t pick up something you can’t handle you know use a trolley if you have to get help. The idea is that you don’t have to have two separate systems

Matt Jones: [00:19:03] Right.

Shayne Connolly: [00:19:03] That the premise behind the whole thing can be used across any environment. And that’s the beauty of having well a simple system is that it’s not like you can apply the same procedure no matter where you are because it makes it actually makes sense to you rather than being you know some elaborate thing that most likely nobody is going to read anyway.

Matt Jones: [00:19:34] And that’s a that’s pretty accurate is it I mean let’s be honest then that goes for. I mean systems in general you know and to. Getting people to be accountable to these systems and making sure that they’re you know they’re constantly up to speed with how things are supposed to be running. I mean that is a big battle.

Shayne Connolly: [00:19:52] Yeah. I mean you know we’ve gone in in the course of our business we come across you know people who have had other systems in place and a lot of our competitors for example you would have a 100 page safety management plan. Now even as the boss, I would struggle to read 100 pages of a safety management plan. Ours is about 25. Because at some point you know we’ve all done training and we all know how big people’s attention span is. And so you’ve got to cater for that. Get your message across in a very succinct way that is easy for people to get. And like I said if you customize it you can add bigger sections in that are more particular to what you do. But for the basic stuff you’ve got to keep it really simple because people simply won’t. I’ve seen people sign stuff so many times and not read it because it’s too complex for them so you know they run the gauntlet which is crazy but that’s human nature.

Matt Jones: [00:20:59] So Shayne if we um you know if we do get these right systems in place what what are some of the things that we can inevitably avoid?

Shayne Connolly: [00:21:09] So the first thing that you can avoid is not knowing what to do when something does go wrong especially in small businesses like all of the listeners have generally. You don’t have an incident every week and you don’t have a workplace health and safety person to deal with it so you are generally the first thing you want to know is, what the hell do I do? So that’s the first thing that a system does. The second thing is tells you how to recover from it. So what to do next how to manage the injury or whatever it might be. If worst comes to worst and the regulator comes and investigates you because it’s a serious incident or it involves a you know an apprentice or whatever reason then it literally protects your business because they will come and investigate. They will have a checklist of things that they are required to know that you’re required to have a policy procedures are they’ve been inducted do they have a if they been trained and if you can show all of those things then you know you may still get a fine or something like that because you know for whatever reason they come up with. But it will be nothing compared to what you would have got if you had no systems in place and they would just literally throw the book at you.

Matt Jones: [00:22:33] I know one of my um one of my good friends he’s like a project manager or project engineer or something or one of these. I went to these construction companies and he they had a project out in Perth where the apprentice, it was tools. Basically it was like they’d finish for the day and the apprentice lefties. I think it was his final up on the roof or something and. He. Everyone was ready to go. His arrival left a phone up there and he basically ran back into the worksite jumped up on the roof no harness ran along the framework fell killed himself only a kid you know he’s like 16 or something. And it a massive obviously a massive issue but I mean that they’re a big company they have all these procedures in place but it was still like it was still an intense investigation you know on them as an adult and when you look at that you think well okay the kid bloody climbed up on the roof with no harness and ran across it like there’s got to be a line there where you say okay we can’t. Wait. How is a line there right when you think the business can obviously do everything they can to try and protect people who do something stupid like you can’t

Shayne Connolly: [00:23:42] Yeah.

Matt Jones: [00:23:42] Protect stupidity can you.

Shayne Connolly: [00:23:44] Well no you can’t but you can protect your business from it.

Matt Jones: [00:23:47] Right

Shayne Connolly: [00:23:47] So

Matt Jones: [00:23:48] Right.

Shayne Connolly: [00:23:48] The first thing that investigator goes and looks at is all of that paperwork all that stuff that irritates people. You know like I said before they inducted their policies procedures all this sort of stuff. So they because what they are trying to establish is your intent as a business. So if you if you don’t have any policies and procedures you’re shoot from the hip. The reason they will come after you is because you’re clear that your intent is not to do the right thing. You’ve made no effort you’ve never tried to have systems in place and so and the judge will tell you that when you end up in front of him. If you try if you can prove that you’ve tried everything you can to have systems in place you’ve trained people all that sort of stuff then yes stupidity still happens. Part of it then is not reflected back on your business.

Matt Jones: [00:24:42] Right

Shayne Connolly: [00:24:43] And that’s really the difference between having systems and not having systems.

Matt Jones: [00:24:49] Yeah.

Shayne Connolly: [00:24:50] We’ve had clients who have been investigated for incidents not serious stuff but after the investigator comes along who is not a friendly man who is not your friend. They are different from the regulators that you normally say who do the inspections. Investigators are a very serious breed. And so they come in, they just go through your business with a fine tooth comb.

Shayne Connolly: [00:25:14] They have no they have nothing nothing about them cares about your business your livelihood your children any of that stuff. All they are there to do is find out the facts. And so when you’ve got systems in place those facts are pretty apparent and it’s pretty easy for them to get to that conclusion and then like I said it may not mean that you get away with with no slap across the wrist but it will be nothing compared to what would happen if you don’t have the systems.

Matt Jones: [00:25:48] Cool. All right well let’s wrap this one up. Shayne on your website the list is out there you can head across to Keep it Simple Safety (all one word) dot com that I you know there’s a free online assessment there which they can go and partake in. And there’s also, are you still running a newsletter?

Shayne Connolly: [00:26:07] Oh yeah and that online assessment by the way will literally test you for your system so if you get on there and you get five questions in and you realise that you’re really not answering the questions well that’s a pretty good indication. But you will get a mark at the end

Matt Jones: [00:26:24] Okay cool we’ll I will post some links to that and show notes but let’s wrap this one up Shayne on let’s come back with the second part where we’re talking about responding to incidents correctly. I think that will be an interesting conversation one of which I’m sure most people have no idea. But anyway, it’s good thanks mate. Anything else would you like to add one?

Shayne Connolly: [00:26:45] No I’m looking forward to the next one.

Matt Jones: [00:26:48] All right. That’s all listeners. That is a wrap.

In The Next Episode

As a trade business owner, it pays to have a good idea of what to do in good or bad times.

Every single day of running a business is filled with obstacles so it really helps to be informed in as many areas as you can.

In the next episode of this series on health and safety, Shayne and I discuss what business owners ought to do whenever incidents occur within the site or workplace. Stay tuned!


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