CCBR Business Review

20 B U S I N E S S T I P S Time to rise If a safety system exists in business, but no one follows it – does it really exist? FEW OF US will forget 2020. By March, the word unprecedented had been used an unprecedented number of times as we came to grips with the world potentially never being the same again. International and state borders closed, restaurants, pubs and shops closed. Usually busy streets like ghost towns. And you could be forgiven for having the thought that your job/business, your home and livelihood were in serious jeopardy through no fault of your own. Sometimes many years of effort – seemingly extinguished. 12 months on from these cataclysmic events, for some, the feeling is one of relief EVERY BUSINESS HAS competing priorities. How does its WH&S system get the priority the law demands? It needs to be melded into the business DNA, driven by frontline managers and embraced by all employees. This was highlighted in the recent case of Safework NSW v ABC Tissue products Pty Ltd [2020} NSWDC 640 (23 October 2020). The business had significant safety systems and dedicated WHS staff. However, it received a fine of $400,000 for failing to address the safety risk of staff crossing the forklift area as a short cut. The incident occurred in February 2017 when a worker was struck by a forklift and surprise of how well we are positioned. It is like we drove the car off the road, rolled down the embankment several times and seemingly exited the car with a minor scratch and new car courtesy of insurance. Admittedly it is not all roses. Specific industries such as travel & tourism-based businesses, may never recover. Some businesses however, are inadvert- ently in the best shape they have been in for years thanks to the government cash- flow boost. Despite Chinas efforts to place tariffs on some products, exports of resources to China are booming. Retail sales have been unusually strong. The inability to travel internationally has diverted some discretionary funds to things like caravan and boat purchases and visits to rural towns. The share market has recovered to pre pandemic levels. Interest rates are at record lows – if you have confidence to borrow, money has never been cheaper. And the residential property market in coastal areas such as the Central Coast, can- transporting a 1.86 tonne, jumbo roll of toilet paper. The worker had just been to the toilet and was crossing the loading bay to return to the production area. The worker was struck by a forklift transporting the enormous roll of tissue paper. The worker sustained significant physical injuries including a traumatic brain injury. The Judge found that although the business had safety procedures in place, they were neither followed nor under- stood by staff. Further, he found manage- ment was aware of this but did not take remedial action to address it. In particular the judge found: • it was usual for employees to “cut across” the loading bay from the toilet; • the forklift drivers, when moving large rolls of paper, had limited vision; • managers and supervisors where aware of this did not take any corrective action What are the lessons for business own- ers? Even the best WHS system is of little benefit if it is not understood, implement- ed and enforced. By Brett Gilday, Director, Moneywise Group By Warwick Ryan, Partner, Hicksons Lawyers not cope with demand as people realise they can work (at least part time) at home. Commercial property agents, who 6 months ago were negotiating rent relief, describe an uptick in commercial property enquiry despite the move to work from home. It is as if everyone is standing around, patting themselves down, amazed they sur- vived the car crash, looking at one another trying to determine who will jump first and lead us out of the wilderness. So, my sense is it is a time for cautious optimism. Time to wake up, poke our head out of the COVID cave and venture into the open. It is a time when the brave and industrious who were prepared to work through whatever environment was in front of them, lay a solid foundation for future success. Time to embrace the relatively fortunate position we found ourselves in compared to others in the world and rise up and lead. So, don’t pause too long waiting for the signal to begin. Be the one to lead and embrace the many opportunities that await you. What is the culture like in your busi- ness? Are your frontline managers aware of all policies and procedures? Do they ensure they are followed? There are 4 key areas essential for busi- ness to drive the correct safety culture: 1. Recruitment – you need to start with the right people as your line manag- ers. 2. Training – if staff are not aware of the policies and procedures, they have no value. Ensure that training is engaging and interactive and not merely a ‘tick- a-box’ compliance exercise. 3. Reward and Recognition programs – are you using it to drive your safety culture? Is your reward and recogni- tion program something the employ- ees want to be involved in? 4. Communication – conflicting mes- saging causes distrust and cynicism amongst employees. Ensure that busi- ness leaders ‘walk the talk’. Also, avoid jargon, as clear communication sets a direction for employees to easily follow. A safety system is ineffectual – unless it becomes part of the operational fabric of your business. CENTRAL COAST BUSINESS REVIEW FEBRUARY 2021