Contractor newsletter

Work Safe

Contractor Communication - December 2021

Welcome to the first edition of our contractor newsletter which you can expect to receive on a quarterly basis. We are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy working environment for our workers, visitors to our offices or work locations and those who have the potential to be affected by our activities (property, tenants and members of the public).

Importance of regular communication

When you are performing work for us, we each have regulatory obligations to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, there is no harm to anyone at any time. We must take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe and healthy working environment, to reduce injuries/illness and enhance physical and psychosocial wellbeing. We must be committed to participation, consultation and cooperation to deliver safe programs and services.

We also share obligations to consult, collaborate and cooperate in regards to work health and safety (WHS) matters. This quarterly newsletter supports our compliance with those obligations. We have adopted the mantra work safe, go home safe. This, combined with the house and tick icon, aims to remind everyone to work safe every day, so you go home safe.

Hazards and risks

Complacency is a hazard

After years of experience on the job, returning to work after a break or during peak periods, it’s easy to become complacent and blindsided. Complacency is extremely dangerous—it can literally be a killer—or at very least put you and, potentially, others at risk of injury and/or illness.

The only way we can fight complacency is to always be vigilant and adopt processes and behaviours to avoid it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add variety—while routines are a necessary part of the job, changing up tasks helps to reduce day-to-day repetition.
  • Support observation—encourage your workers to observe the actions of each other. This makes it easier to identify risks in the workplace and will help raise awareness of their own actions.
  • Correct errors—training, education and mentoring programs should be in place to help workers both identify and change dangerous practices and mitigate potential problems.

Animal encounters 

Sounds like a great TV documentary doesn’t it? In all seriousness, in recent months we have seen an increase in the number of animal encounter incidents reported, particularly dog bites. We have issued a Safety alert: Your safety around dogs which includes safety advice, safety actions and links to resources. These types of incidents are generally preventable. We strongly encourage you to take the time to read this alert and take all reasonable steps to prevent incidents occurring.

Weather

Our peak work period aligns with summer, meaning that you and your workers will likely be exposed to warmer weather conditions and related hazards. There is a number of great resources available, such as Heat - Working in extreme heat | SafeWork NSW, to help identify these hazards and mitigate the risks associated with working in extreme heat. And don’t forget to be sun smart

Healthy reporting culture

Timely incident reporting

It’s essential that you report WHS incidents and near miss events which occur on our work sites in a timely manner:

  • You must notify us immediately in the event of a notifiable incident.
  • All other incidents must be reported to us as soon as practicable. 

Our Guide to WHS incient notification outlines what to report how and when to notify and why it is important to notify DHA. We have also developed a WHS incident notification flowchart to assist in determining if a incident should be reported.

We strongly encourage you to review these documents to ensure you understand the timeframes associated with reporting specific incident types. And, if in doubt, always report it!

A quick guide to incident reporting

An incident is an event or occurrence that results in:

  • an injury and/or illness
  • property damage, or
  • a near miss

A near miss is an event or occurrence that did not result in injury, illness or damage but had the potential to.

All incidents that occur either to DHA staff (employees and contractors) or on DHA sites are reportable to DHA, how and who to report to is dependent on the severity of the incident.

Incidents to be reported immediately:

  • DHAs WHS team on (02) 6270 6082 or 139 342 (option 3)

All other incidents to be reported within 24 hours of the incident occuring:

DHA has a legal obligation to notify Comcare and the relevant state/territory regulators of all notifiable incidents.

Your timely reporting of incidents to the WHS team will assist DHA to comply with regulatory reporting timeframes and workplace safety.

The reporting of incidents provides an opportunity to assess the risks, identify hazards and ensure there are controls in place to manage them to prevent further incidents.

Reporting also helps to identify improvements in the health, safety and wellbeing of our workers.

Incident analysis

We analyse all WHS incidents to identify trends and determine if there are hazards or risks that warrant corrective action to assure our workers’ safety.

In the past 12 months (1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021), we received a total of 48 incident reports involving contractors. Of these, 43 required further investigation. The top three recurrent incident types and root causes are listed below with relevant information for your review.

  • Slips, trips and falls

    Poor lighting, distracting noises, wet conditions and lack of situational awareness all contributed to a number of slips, trips or falls. Guides such as Slips, trips and falls prevention by WorkSafe QLD provides guidance on how to manage the risks associated with this hazard. We strongly encourage you to review this information and implement any corrective controls to make your work environment safer.

  • Unsafe work processes

    Too often, our incident investigation found that workers had failed to follow safe work methods. We are increasing our surveillance program to ensure all contractors that we engage are maintaining a compliant safety management system and implementing it effectively. We also suggest you hold regular toolbox talks or safety briefings with your workers to ensure your expectations are understood.

  • Complacency
    We found complacency to be the root cause of a number of incidents including manual handling, moving plant or equipment and being struck by an object. Refer to the previous information on complacency for tips on how to combat this risk. 

Please ensure all incidents are reported to DHA in a timely manner through your DHA contact or direct to the WHS Team.