In contemplating safety, you must remember the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. We understand the importance of safety but how do you improve Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) in primary production? In January 2014, AMC started a process to review and improve our WH&S management system with great success and I would like to share the process and some tips so that other businesses may do the same.
When we set out to take AMC’s WH&S standards to new heights, we couldn’t find an organisation that knew enough about WH&S in primary production to assist AMC achieve the desired outcome. Having researched an acceptable industry standard, AMC started by engaging a firm to conduct an AS4801 Standard gap analysis of our existing WH&S Policy.
Once the AS4801 gap analysis was complete, we implemented the recommendations to conform to the Standard and applied the AS4801 Standards to suit the company WH&S policy, the nature of our activities and the conditions in which we operate. We decided to do this internally to develop the knowledge in-house and have increased “buy-in” from the team. The AS4801 Standard is common in the building and construction industry and not easy for a multi-site, multi-commodity agribusiness but we have done it!
A great WH&S Policy must have a defined purpose and established, measurable objectives. AMC’s WH&S Policy outlines the company’s commitment to achieve the highest attainable level of workplace health and safety for its staff, visitors, contractors and volunteers throughout all areas of its activities. This base allows you to be proactive and do something about the issues identified. Our targets, as listed below, assist AMC in providing a safe workplace:
- A full Hazard and Risk Assessment completed for each new site within the first 5 days on site.
- AMC WH&S Manual and Site Risk Management Plan implemented on all new sites within 30 days.
- 100% of all injuries and incidents reported to AMC as per relevant State and Commonwealth legislation and AMC injury management procedures in the format specified; and summarised in the Monthly Manager Reports. All issues added to the Incident/Injury Register as they occur.
- 100% compliance to all Monthly Manager Reports.
Continually improving our system ensures compliance and that the reasons for managing safety stay front-of-mind. AMC reviews targets, objectives and the full WH&S policy annually, and reviews all procedures and incident management plans quarterly. Ongoing, AMC will engage a third-party auditor every two years to review our WH&S management system for improvement.
All AMC staff are required to implement safety systems appropriate to their operational responsibility and in accord with current technology. Supervisory staff at every level ensure that safe working procedures are clearly understood and consistently observed. Supervisors must also ensure that all plant and equipment in use is in safe working order and that workplace conditions are maintained to a high standard.
AMC implements the WH&S system through procedures and arrangements established by the program. Specific policies, work practices and procedures are prepared to address hazards and hazardous work practices within the workplace.
One of the keys to AMC’s safety culture is Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment. Hazard analysis identifies the most likely consequence of the exposure of employees to the hazard and the likelihood that exposure to the hazard will result in an incident occurring.
The level of risk is determined by doing a risk assessment which identifies risks and rates them according to how likely it is that an incident could occur as a result. Risks identified require analysis to ensure controls are implemented to reduce the risk to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.
Hazard and Risk Assessments sound exhausting although are relatively easy to complete if you have a good process. The key to AMC managing the risks is through deploying a range of control measures via the “Hierarchy of Control.” The control measures are listed from most desirable to last resort:
- Elimination: Getting rid of the hazard all together. E.g. removing a hazardous piece of machinery altogether (any tasks associated with that machinery would cease).
- Substitution: Replacing the hazard with something safer. E.g. removing unsafe machinery and purchasing new, safer machinery which does the same job.
- Isolation: Taking the hazard away from as many people as possible. E.g. implementing restricted access to a piece of machinery.
- Engineering: Reducing risks through engineering controls. E.g. installing a guard, or an emergency stop button on a piece of machinery that reduces risk of injury.
- Administrative or PPE: Reducing exposure to the hazard via PPE or administrative procedures. E.g. introducing compulsory check lists before operating machines, making sure all staff wear PPE.
Safe work procedures detail the safest way to perform hazardous tasks. Whenever a new hazard is identified, a new safe work procedure is developed and circulated among staff. Safe work procedures greatly assist inductions and staff training.
Engaging with your team is important and improves their “buy-in” to your WH&S culture and system. A good way to do this is to involve everyone in the development of your system, policies and procedures. All staff, visitors, contractors and volunteers have a duty to care for their personal welfare and the welfare of others. To meet this commitment it is important that each person follow safe working practices at all times, and take all reasonable care to prevent personal injury or injury to others and damage to plant and equipment. This is more likely if everyone is involved in the development of the system. WH&S is front and centre at all AMC weekly meetings and is prominent throughout our internal and external reporting.
As mentioned, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Safety is paramount and can be improved in Australia agriculture through simple, cost-effective measures so do something about it. Contact AMC on +61733079555 or email to find out how we can assist in improving the safety and welfare of your operations.