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How a safety induction can save lives

According to Safe Work Australia 3,414 workers died whilst on the job from 2003 to 2016. More recently in 2018, 152 people died due to work related incidents. Some might say that that really isn't all that much compared to other causes of death. However, with a proper safety induction these deaths may have been prevented. Safety inductions help to alert all employees about safety procedures so that they are all aware of how to carry them out. Carrying them out correctly can reduce potential risks and hazards to employees and give them easy to carry out options to help deal with risks and hazards promptly, literally saving lives.

Safety inductions are a way to introduce new employees to your company's safety culture as well as a tool to help create it. It is important to note that to be truly effective, safety inductions should not be confined just to new employees, existing employees should also have the opportunity to regularly update and refresh themselves on your company's safety policies. This helps provide them with the most current safety information that relates to the workplace reminding them of their responsibilities towards safety in the company. That is not to say that you can create a positive lifesaving safety culture purely from a safety induction, however it is a key starting point.

When creating a Safety induction, it is important to include all types of hazards and the areas that employees/members of the public (depending on your business) might encounter. Targeting the areas where incidents have occurred is important however it is also important to be proactive in reducing or removing potential hazards before they occur. Covering all potential risk areas such as manual handling (moving items from one spot to another regardless of their weight), gravity (trips, falls and slips) and psychosocial (unresolved conflicts, workplace bullying) is important if you want your induction to be effective. These are just some of the areas to consider when compiling your safety induction other areas worth investigating and assessing include temperature, environment and weather.

Aside from Hazards, employees should know to protect themselves and each other to help prevent an incident from occurring, or by creating another incident on top of the first one. This includes instruction on how to correctly use personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, hearing protection and the equipment that is available to respond to hazards, fire extinguishers and blankets etcetera. It is important that all employees know how to use these and use them correctly

If for some reason an emergency situation occurs then it is important that your employees know how to handle it (e.g. knowing when they must evacuate, how to evacuate and be able to do it safely). As with the equipment above specific details for this will vary based on the type of work that your company carries out and both the interior and exterior environment around the worksite.

In attempting to prevent hazards and risks from arising it is important that the company's chosen method of incident reporting is made clear in the induction. This might be a paper form with a possible photograph attached and then being handed in to a safety supervisor (or equivalent). This system unfortunately has several problems as it is slow and takes employees away from their work. This can lead to a variety of issues such as reduced work by your workers and increased risk to their lives. Using a dedicated app on a smart device can make this process much quicker and therefore safer. The report is able to be done on the spot by the person who noticed it with photos of the hazard attached simultaneously, saving time which can then be better used on solving the problem or restricting access to the area until the problem is solved. Taking the time to teach employees to do this correctly during the induction will mean that they will be able to get started on being observant straight away. There are three areas that they need to be aware of, these are identifying, reporting and handling. It is important to let your employees know how to deal with these three areas however it is also important that it is as easy for your employees as possible to carry out the necessary steps for each area.

Another thing to consider when creating a safety induction, is that it is important to avoid any assumptions about the background knowledge of your employees regarding safety or their fluency in industry jargon. These assumptions can lead to gaps in their knowledge and to mistakes and mistakes can be fatal.

Gathering and then presenting all of your information to your employees in your safety induction is important. However, it is also important to make sure that they engage with the information that you are presenting them. If they simply ignore what you are telling them they will fail to learn and that will lead to potential accidents and loss of lives due to poor safety practices.

To make sure your safety induction actually contributes to saving lives there is a lot to consider, however it is important to remember Deaths at work are preventable and although it requires a greater investment putting the time and energy into creating a good safety induction will assist greatly with preventing them.

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