Is your trades business up to date on its safety management? Do you have a WHS Management System?

You all most likely know what Safety Management is. You understand your obligations and keep your people safe on-site, but how well do you manage the paperwork side of things?  From my experience dealing with tradies, I have an understanding that they deal with their safety (more or less so) like this: 
  • Download a generic safety template from the Master Builders Association
  • Fill in the safety template 
  • Put it on a shelf in the office 
  • Safety done 
Does this sound about right?  I thought so.  It’s a half-arsed attempt at a safety plan and it’s not going to do any good when someone gets hurt; an employer or an employee.  There’s the potential for the employer to go to jail and the employee can die if not properly briefed about on-site safety procedures.  You might be reading this thinking, “we’re pretty careful, we try to keep everyone safe, and we’re not monsters.”  Well, believe it or not, it’s extremely common for people to die on job sites. Statistics from Safe Work Australia show that the Construction Industry has the third-highest fatality rate in Australia. In 2018 there were 36 labourer fatalities and 27 technician and trades worker fatalities.  And not only that but a lot of employers go to jail or get fined when people in their care get hurt. So think about this next time you’re going through safety procedures onsite. Think about whether you’re filling out all the paperwork properly…  I’m not implying that you don’t already know what your safety obligations are, as you probably do. However, I want to take the time to go through it anyway, as we’ve established; it’s important.   And one thing you might not be aware of, or you might be aware of this but not have taken the time to research it – is a safety management system, a software created to streamline safety obligations. I’ll talk about some specific software platforms you can use and why they’re good to use. 

So WHS – what is it? 

Safe Work Australia defines Work Health and Safety (WHS) as a legal requirement by you as the business owner to take care of the health, safety and welfare of your workers, including yourself and other staff, as well as contractors, clients and volunteers.   Now, this entails 
  • That you provide and maintain a work environment that is without risk to health and safety 
  • That you monitor the health of workers and the conditions of the workplace to prevent injury or illness. 
Sounds simple right?  On paper, it looks that way but in reality, managing a crew of 10 or even 15 guys is hard work. This is why there’s something called a Safety (WHS) Management Plan. And it is a legal requirement for construction work that exceeds $250,000. 

So what is a WHS Management Plan? 

It’s a detailed plan for construction worksites that provide written evidence as to HOW risks are to be managed on-site. Each state has its own WHS requirements but the framework for these requirements are broken down into 5 parts as follows: 
  1. Concern for workers’ safety
  2. What a worker’s duties are in the workplace
  3. Risk management
  4. The means of reporting incidents that take place in the workplace 
  5. The ways in which company policies are enforced
A WHS management plan is responsible for making sure these risks are managed responsibly and written rules and arrangements to ensure everyone on site is aware of the risks and follows the guidelines to eliminate them. This plan must be accessible to everyone working on the site as well as reviewed and signed regularly.  This plan must generally include:
  1. The names, positions and health and safety responsibilities of all people working on the site.
  2. Arrangements for managing any work health and safety incidents that occur. 
  3. Any site-specific health and safety rules. 
  4. Arrangements for ensuring all people on site are informed of health and safety rules, an example of this would be precise meetings or toolbox talks. 
  5. Assessment, monitoring and review of safe work method statements at the workplace. 


What is SWMS?  SWMS or Safety Work Method Statement is a written document that illustrates the high-risk activities or construction to be carried out on a worksite. As well as detailing the potential hazards that can arise from these sites and the measures that will be put in place to control the risks.  A SWMS is a tool to help both the supervisors and workers monitor the measures of control that have been put in place on a worksite. The person who is to carry out the high-risk work should be the one to prepare the SWMS but in consultation with other workers who may be directly engaged with said high-risk work as well. This generally means that a SWMS is prepared by the builder or subcontractor for their workers.  SWMS is the evidence; the documentation that you have briefed everyone appropriately and that they have understood their safety expectations by signing off on said briefing.  There should be one of these briefings with a SWMS that is signed before each job.  A SMWS must: 
  • Identify the high-risk construction work. 
  • Specify the hazards that relate to the high-risk construction work and risks to health and safety 
  • Layout the measures in place to minimise/control risks 
  • Describe how the control measures will be implemented and monitored
Again sounds quite simple.  But according to the stats we looked at earlier and my encounters with tradies, WHS plans aren’t done properly a large proportion of the time.

Why have a safety plan? 

Well first off it’s a legal requirement Secondly, it helps to get you out of shit if something goes wrong; in other words, if something bad happens on site and you’ve followed all correct procedures – written a WHS plan, had everyone sign off on a SWMS and reviewed all this with your team daily – then you’re in the clear. If not you can get sued – it happened to a tradesman I know up in Byron.  He hired subcontractors to install solar panels and they didn’t follow the correct safety procedures. And the tradesman didn’t enforce or sign off on any safety briefings so he got sued when one of the men fell off the roof unharnessed… The trade business owner was in legal dealings for the next couple of years and had to pay out a hefty sum to the subcontractors and within that time he wasn’t allowed to operate his business. If that isn’t a lesson in following safety procedures I don’t know what is…  So follow all of your safety procedures and one way to help you comply with all of them is to get a;  WHS Management System (Work, Health and Safety Management System)  What is that?  WHS Management Systems help you streamline and automate your safety management process. They help keep track of safety obligations as well as record all relevant safety qualifications and certifications needed by employees and how to induct them onto the worksite. These management systems can also manage the documents for specific sites and have adjustable templates for SWMS, toolbox talks and WHS plans.  I know you all probably have an understanding of safety and care about keeping your people safe, but I still talk to a lot of trades that don’t do the paperwork side of things properly; the part that protects you when it comes down to the legalities of safety, if anything goes wrong.  Here are a couple of companies that offer safety management solutions – ways in which you can manage your safety obligations in a more streamlined, automated fashion. I suggest doing a  bit of research into these and picking one that suits you.
A&H Risk 
A&H Risk is a WHS consultancy company that focuses on assisting small to medium-sized businesses with their WHS obligations. 
  1.  Keeping safety should be simple and believe it or not that is the intent of the WHS legislation. If you focus on keeping people safe you will essentially be compliant! You can do this by ensuring your ‘acts’ and your ‘omissions’ do not cause adverse harm. 
  2.  Safety Management Systems are an effective tool to achieve compliance and also show to your clients that you take WHS seriously.
  3.  A&H Risk is a WHS consultancy that focuses on assisting small to medium-sized businesses with their WHS obligations. This is in the form of safety system development and even assistance with ISO certification.
Safety Champion 
Safety Champion Is a safety management software that focuses on making logging and filing safety obligations easy and accessible for trade businesses. 
  1. They have features that help you capture, monitor and improve your safety performance. You can capture hazards and actions on the easy-to-use application available on phones. 
  2. You can monitor the progress of your safety program in real-time on any device. 
  3. Safety champion aims to simplify your safety obligations and help you keep them up to date and reported on time. 
KIS – Keep it Simple Safety Group 
KIS is an organisation that helps you comply with the safety standards required for your business. 
  1. They provide a software platform to manage your safety obligations as well as integrate a safety management system into this software so you can log incidents online. 
  2.  They also give you access to procedures and policies along with safety operating procedures, and safe work method statements that are customised for your individual business. 
  3. They offer quarterly catch-ups so you can keep up to date with safety measures, and they help you plug holes so you remain compliant with safety measures.
Hazard Co 
Hazard Co is another business that offers an on-site system to manage your safety obligations. 
  1. They generate site-specific safety plans for your jobs. There is an app everyone in your team can use to safely induct themselves onto the site and accept the safety plan. 
  2. There is a unique contractor management system that checks through insurance, qualifications and more. 
  3. They have 24/7 on-call advisors that can help you understand and manage the safety management software. 
Choose a Safety Management System that aligns with the way your business operates. One that you find easy to use and integrates well with both your processes and your team.  But the most important point I’m making here is that you do choose one.  I’m not recommending anyone specifically, I think they’re all quite similar. However, I do strongly advise that you decide on one and get your safety management procedures streamlined. This will help lessen stress and safeguard your employees, your business and yourself. 
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4. Book yourself a 10-minute chat with me. We’ll talk about whether coaching is right for you now and if it is, we’ll go further into the process before you have to make your mind up.

See you later.

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