People often tell me that I am "passionate" -
And I am passionate about how we as individuals can impact and improve the lives of others. I feel enormously blessed that I come to work every day and feel that as a group, we can do exactly that - improve the lives of those around us. This is particularly important for employee safety. There is nothing more important than ensuring that the people that work for us return home safe and well.
Not only is it our responsibility as leaders to ensure our staff are safe in the workplace, but it is also our legal obligation. Employers are required to take an ' active, imaginative and flexible approach to potential dangers' when it comes to assessing and minimizing risk in the workplace.
Safety in the workplace is becoming an increasingly 'grey' area as we break down the barriers of the traditional 9-5 office based working model and move into a new way of working, where work is 'what you do' and not 'where you go'.
How can you ensure employees are safe when you can't see them and you can't control the environment they are working in?
This is when you need to be imaginative and flexible.
I think about 3 key areas when considering safety in the mobile workplace.
1. Employees that are on the road.
Hundreds of people die on Australian roads every year. Globally, the statistics are horrific (1.24 million in 2010). The most mobile of workplaces is possibly the most dangerous. But there are so many ways that we can be imaginative and flexible about ensuring employee safety in the vehicle, by leveraging technology.
Fleet management has come such a long way from its initial vehicle tracking days. Nowadays, Fleet Management enables you to:
- Pro-actively monitor and manage driver fatigue
- Set parameters to trigger events if a driver accelerates too quickly, brakes harshly or exceeds a maximum speed limit
- Ensure when driving, people cannot access mobile data or SMS on their devices
- Utilise route optimisation to select the safest route, and estimate the time of arrival at each checkpoint as well as the final destination
- Know where your employees are at all times
2. Employees in remote and high risk environments.
I have friends that work in a range of 'dangerous' work environments, from miners and construction workers, to remote care and social workers. For these employees, the need is pretty straight forward. They need to be able to hit the 'alert button' when in duress and be assured that a chain of activity focused on their well-being will occur.
3. Employees that could find themselves in a crisis.
Which is basically any of us. It is not just fleet workers or remote workers that can find themselves in a crisis situation. Take for example the siege at Martin Place. I am sure we all watched the situation unfold in horror, and recognised that the people trapped in the Lindt café could be any one of us, a colleague or a friend. The sad reality is, we live in a world where it feels like every day there is another crisis or disaster, whether it is environmental (eg. flood) or political (eg. terrorist attack), social (eg. protesting that can shut down the city), or technological (eg. network failure). As an employer, you need to be prepared. When disaster strikes, you should be able to contact all your employees rapidly and effectively to: ensure they are aware of potential risks, update them on what they can do to keep safe, and enable them to respond to let you know they are safe or if they need assistance. It is easier to do this than you may think. I truly believe that everyone should have a critical communications plan in place.
It is up to all of us to make safety a priority and to be imaginative and flexible in the way we approach potential dangers to our employees.