There are many factors that might result in a work site being considered a potentially hazardous one. Whether that be a site that involves exposed wires and live electrical currents, or even has a risk for arc flashes, a site that features hazardous chemicals, or one that involves working from heights, you need to be sure, before you start working on a site, that you have properly assessed and prepared staff for the potential hazards involved.
In total, the Australian government has identified 18 separate, high-risk work activities that require a SWMS document to be completed before work starts. This is a useful guide as to whether the site is potentially hazardous – if you need to fill one of these documents out, you need to further prepare staff for the site.
Three steps to prepare staff for a hazard site
⦁ Complete the documentation.
Following one of NECA’s SWMS template documents, fully record the potential risks of the site, and note down the steps that you will take to mitigate against those risks. These documents should be always kept on site for easy reference, and each employee on-site should be both aware of, and have input into, the information in the document. It’s important that this process is consultative and collaboratively so that it gets the “buy in” from all stakeholders and always ensure that there’s familiarity with the document from all people on-site.
⦁ Make sure the equipment is well maintained.
Safety equipment only works as it is meant to when it is well maintained and fully functional. After each day’s use, all equipment should be inspected in full by someone with a trained eye for safety equipment, and even the slightest defects should be either repaired (if applicable) or the equipment replaced before the next day’s work.
Here’s what the equipment inspection should be looking for:
⦁ Any discolouration or material weakening.
⦁ Rips, tears, holes, cracks, or other visible damage.
⦁ The sheer age of the piece of equipment.
⦁ How many times the equipment has been used (by anyone) previously.
⦁ Whether there’s anything in the equipment that is missing.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about how long safety equipment lasts, and it’s important to understand that the suitability of the equipment for ongoing use should be determined by condition, and not whatever expiry date might have been set by the manufacturer.
The slightest suggesting of the equipment degrading is a sign that it should be replaced.
⦁ Educate your workers.
Finally, it’s important that each person on the work site has been fully trained in safety best practices, and that this training is maintained on a regular basis, and updated as standards and expectations change. There are plenty of different approaches that you can take to this training, but make sure the employee can ask questions, understand their role in safety on their own terms, and have a chance to role-play safety scenarios in a safe environment
Undertaking these three steps alone will go a long way to ensuring that your work sites are safer and follow best practices. By doing that you ensure that your people are looked after, and you will be covered according to your health and safety requirements.
As the health and safety specialists, NECA can assist you with your SWMS documentation, and other best practices. Contact us today to discuss your own challenges and concerns around safety.