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Are you ready for the Health And Safety At Work Act ? (HSWA)

Watch out ! For being the guy that google’s the new HSWA act, notices a picture of a hard-hat and a bulldozer in the background and mistakenly thinks the act is not applicable to him.

If you conduct a business, whether it’s a restaurant, coffee shop or logging operation, this is something you need to pay attention to.

Under the new act YOU are responsible for the safety of yourself and those around you. Whether you are a contractor or subby, Principle, Employer or Employee. A key aspect of the Bill is the creation of a new duty holder, known as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU).

Do you know how it affects you or what changes you need to make? I’ll give a list of most of the risk factors that need to be addressed. Fireco will be glad to assist you with the Fire-safety aspect of your business. But be sure that come April 4th (the deadline) you have taken the needed steps to assure you have taken reasonable precaution for your business’s unique risks.

Here are the key aspects that you want to take into consideration when assessing your possible risks.

Fire – Precautionary measures for Possible risks & Action in the event of a fire.
Medical emergency – Standard operating procedures for dealing with medical emergencies. Equipment and training ?
Working alone – Protocol and controls in place, sufficient training ?
Adverse weather conditions – Equipment, training, timing ?
Aggressive behavior – How this is handled ?
Communication or technology failure – What is the backup ?
Earthquakes – Have you got an evacuation plan in place
Armed robbery – Insurances, camera, barriers, other  ?
Chemical spills – spill kits, training, barriers, SOP’s ?

Fire safety

This has always been a technical topic as it obviously involves some degree of expense for either the landlord or business owner. Business owner says the landlord should take care of it, landlord says he’s not obligated to do so and quite regularly, you end up with a situation where, because of this technical dispute, there is NO fire safety equipment present at a place of business. Be sure to read our previous post on “who pays for the fire extinguisher”.

This has now changed, The responsibility is now shifted and if you have not yet taken action to arm yourself with a primary response to workplace fires, you could be held responsible for negligence and face hefty fines or worse. But it doesn’t stop there, the act clearly refers to more than one person/s in the workplace responsible for ensuring their safety and that of their colleagues. You don’t get to “pass the buck” because you weren’t the previous fire warden, you don’t get to be exempt if you weren’t the office manager or the senior on site. Everyone is responsible.

Here’s a couple of tests you can do to establish if you need to amend your fire safety plan.
No area is immune or exempt
You look around and notice nothing quite hazardous. But, did you pay attention to the overloaded multi-plug, or the fridge in the back room next to the shredder, or broken-but-still-works plug on that very same shredder ? Electricity is everywhere and electrical fires love offices because they’re loaded with flammables.

Here’s a couple of tests you can do

  1. Do you have electrical appliances or fittings permanently connected to the mains ?
  2. Do you store flammable materials including paper ?
  3. Do you have areas in your workplace exposed to sources of heat, including elements from kettles and corrugated iron or similar in summer
  4. Do you operate a vehicle driven by electric or flammable type fuel ?
  5. Do you have any pressurized gasses on your business property or vehicle ?
  6. Do you work with power tools ?
  7. Does any of the work you conduct produce heat ?
  8. Do you use a deep fryer or oven ?
  9. Is your workplace or work vehicle ever close to an open field
  10. Do you drive or manage a person that drives a company vehicle, including normal “road” cars ?

Above is not a full blown risk assessment, it is merely a set of questions to identify possible risks you can proactively take care of. Feel free to give Fireco a call if you require clarity or Free advice.

So; Are you ready for the Health And Safety At Work Act ? (HSWA)

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