Shake up your workplace safety standards

In the early hours of the morning of the 14th November 2016, a significant earthquake rocked the upper South and lower North Islands sending people from their beds and into the hills. In the light of day, the extent of the damage became apparent with massive sections of the Kaikoura coast and inland areas completely cut off. Hundreds of slips across state highways and access roads meant that no one could get in, or out, of these areas, some of whom were in desperate need of assistance.

Rural communities were among those that suffered most. While larger populated areas were getting assistance, the isolated properties were alone and unable to get additional supplies.

An event like this highlights the relevance of the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015) to anyone operating an outdoor workplace. Not only does the Act apply to direct members of your team, but also to anyone on your property at any given time including contractors, visitors, campers or hikers.

In a natural disaster such as an earthquake, you need to be aware of additional people on your property. It is important that each individual knows what to do, who to contact, and where to go. Not only is it smart to have this information readily available, it is a requirement of the Act. PCBUs (person conducting a business or undertaking) must have an emergency plan in place to be compliant with the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Outdoor workplaces need to inform everyone coming onto their property of what to do, who to contact and where to go in an emergency.

A good way to start is simply writing it down and sticking it on a wall but it is not a sustainable solution. The more people who come onto your property, the more difficult it is to ensure that everyone is familiar with the emergency plan.

Moving to a digital solution can make managing your emergency plan easier. There are mobile apps available, like OnSide, which visitors to your property can download to view all relevant information. This can include meeting points, helicopter drop off points, nearest neighbours, contact details and other information they would need in an emergency.

Rather than relying on all visitors to come to your central point (office or otherwise) you can instead know with peace of mind that they have all the information directly with them.

OnSide have developed a Workplace Emergency Plan which can help you start to think about the things you should be including in your emergency plan. Download and complete this template to ensure that you are compliant with the Health and Safety Act and that your visitors and team know what to do in the event of an emergency. Click here to download the plan.

Posted by Caroline Fellows

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