Archive for the ‘OH&S’ Category

HR2You – October 2011 Newsletter

October 25th, 2011 No comments

by HR2You at

Can’t Buy Me Love

The Beatles first put it in song many years ago (sooooo many years ago) and the theory still holds strong today – especially in the workforce.

Most employees don’t leave a business for a few dollars more. The majority leave because they are unhappy with their boss or the business in general. Interesting little article here discusses the reasons why cash is not an incentive to stay.

Businesses that give staff the resources, respect, recognition and a workplace culture that is strongly team focused are more able to retain and motivate staff.

Whenever bosses are asked in surveys what motivates staff the most invariably the answer of more money wins out. Sometimes staff do move for more money – but it’s usually ‘a lot more money’. Hello Gary Ablett Jnr and Tom Scully if you are reading this.

In an age (internet) where employees have more access to information about workplace rights and conditions, it is now harder to retain and motivate employees. It is also harder to attract quality staff as word about a business’s reputation gets around so much quicker these days.

Companies need to look inward at their culture, their values and what makes them an employer of choice. What have they got in place that makes them a great place to work? Why would an employee want to stay and why would candidates want to join? Whether you have 3 staff or 30, connecting with your staff is vitally important…

WorkShop: Hire Manage and Fire

“You’re only as good as the people you hire.” – Ray Kroc

October 24th at 4pm at 18 Wilsons Lane, Lilydale

Presented by Darren Cassidy.

This workshop is ideal for small to medium business employers looking to take the stress out of employing people and start to enjoy their business and get more from their employees.  Many small to medium employers are hesitant and insecure about employing and managing staff these days. But it needn’t be so.  Practical tips and advice that will give you the confidence to employ great staff, keep them and get the most from them.

For more information and to register to attend: Click here

Alcohol & Drug Testing Green Light

After a recent landmark ruling by Fair Work Australia, building industry employers will now have the power to enforce drug and alcohol testing. It is expected that this will spread to other industries as well, quite quickly.

So does this mean all employers can now turn up tomorrow and start testing and firing their employees? Mmmmm…Not really…

A few steps need to be followed first. Firstly implement a solid Alcohol and Drug workplace policy and induct all employees into it. Make sure they sign off and agree to abide by the policy. If you test an employee and they return a positive reading – make sure you tell them straight away that they are at risk of having their employment terminated. Give them an opportunity to defend themselves and I would suggest they be tested by a third party (local police station) that conforms to the standard AS/NZS 4308:2008 & AS 4760:2006.

If you do decide to fire them, then do it on that day. Do not wait a day or two. Unfair dismissal claims have been won because employer’s dilly dallied for a couple of days.  The key here is procedural fairness. Show (document) that it has been followed and you shouldn’t have any problems with letting someone go due to a positive drug and alcohol test.

‘Tis The Season to be Jolly…

It’s that time of the year when companies start organising the office Christmas party, if they haven’t already.  For many employers the after party headaches are not caused by a hangover, they are caused by the behaviour of staff at the party. Sexual harassment, bullying, violence and internal staff disputes all go up at this time of the year.

If you are going to put on a party for your staff – be prepared. This article I wrote a while ago gets plenty of hits every year. Have a look at some of the tips and start thinking ahead.  If you think the staff are likely to act up at the party – is it time to look at the workplace culture and values of the business?

6 Top Tips for Firing

1: Make sure you have a clear reason. Is it a downturn in business, poor behaviour, poor performance or a contravention of a workplace policy?

2: Procedural fairness. Make sure that for whatever reason you are firing someone that you follow a procedure and the employee has been given a right of reply, an opportunity to improve or counselling on a redundancy.

3: Involve a third person on conversations. Best tip is to get a third person in on the counselling or discussions on the situation with the employee. Let them bring along someone as well. Don’t make it a “your word against theirs” situation.

4: Have evidence. Make sure that the reasons for dismissal are clear and unambiguous. Do due diligence and investigate any allegations of wrong doing, poor behaviour or poor performance. Cover all of your bases.

5: Document everything. Firing someone and not having anything documented is inviting trouble. Workplace policy, performance review, counselling sessions, training, termination letter and any other interactions should all be documented. In an unfair dismissal claim they will be asked for.

6: Let them go ASAP. Do not terminate someone and let them work out their notice period. You’ve just created a very unhappy employee who will undermine the business in many creative ways.

Super A-Mart: $1.3M in Back Pay

All a business needs is one disgruntled employee who gets advice and a business can suddenly be in a world of financial pain.

There are plenty of recent stories about businesses forking out back pay every month, but this one takes the cake for the moment. The employee initially complained about what they had been paid, which opened the door for Fair Work Australia and its inspectors to dig a little deeper.  Employers need to be very careful around their employees work hours and what constitutes their start and finish time, information sessions and other work related meetings outside rostered shifts.

On top of the $1.3M in back pay the company will need to pay out a $120k donation and spend time and more money on complying with the Enforceable Undertaking handed out by Fair Work Australia.  Keep your staff happy and get compliant with the rules.

The World Ends in 2012

Well, it will anyway for any business not ready for the new OHS laws due in January 2012. Only a few months away.  Penalties will triple, responsibilities will change and employers will need to be able to show how they have met compliance with OHS.

Last month the Victorian Govt applied to the Commonwealth to defer the new laws for 12 months. So we’ll wait and see if that is the case. Use this link to get some more information on the new laws

Handy “Quote”

“Companies have three responsibilities: 1) make a profit, 2) satisfy employees, and 3) be socially responsible. “ – Peter Drucker

Categories: Human Resources, OH&S

HR2You – September 2011 Newsletter

September 30th, 2011 No comments

by HR2You at

Is The Honeymoon Over?

Do your employees feel
unenthusiastic, underappreciated, uninspired and unmotivated by their managers in your business?

The rogenSI Global Mindset Index survey found that employers have a ever shortening period of time to engage their employees before boredom sets in and they start drifting off. So what are you doing to engage your staff and bond them closer to your business and thus reduce staff turnover?

Regular staff meetings,
performance reviews, special projects, staff surveys, team bonding sessions,  workplace training, reward and recognition program and a suggestion box are  some of the simple things that you can use to up your employee engagement.  But in the end you need to get to know your staff and what makes them tick.  Connect this information to the way you appreciate them and show them what they mean to your business.

Employee engagement = staff retention = customer loyalty = profitability = happy business. So what are you doing this week to engage your staff?

WorkShop: HR & OHS Compliance

“Yesterday’s bullet
won’t kill you. Tomorrow’s bullet just might.”
Bernie Provan

October 18th
at 6pm at the Dorset Gardens Hotel

Presented by
Gillian Kinder (HR & OHS Compliance Specialist), Malcolm Freeman (Risk Management guru) and Darren Cassidy.

Learn to
identify areas of risk, gain an insight on how compliance in HR management can add value to your business and avoid business-fatal issues arising from your HR management.

Pick the brains of these experts and use this great opportunity to learn and position your business for future growth.

For more information and to register to attend: Click here.

How is Your Record Keeping?

Two companies and two directors have been fined just over $28,000 for failing to keep proper employment records for three foreign workers at a Peth Cafe. Read the story here.

There are certain employee records that employers need to retain and Fair Work Inspectors have a range of powers to ask for your employee records and in some cases they can issue on the spot fines for non-compliance. Not sure what records? Contact us today…

Employer of Choice

The 2011 Insync and RedBalloon Dream Employer Survey has revealed that businesses are doing little to increase word of mouth recommendations from former or current employees.

The survey showed that only 40% of employees were satisfied with their job, only 33% would recommend their employer and 45% of employees are planning to look for another job in the next year. So what would they improve? 41% said systems and processes, 39% said communication and 38% said reward and recognition.

So what that says is that employees love businesses that have their managerial act together, can communicate and engage effectively and recognise their efforts rather than ignore them.

So what are you doing to become an Employer of Choice? Want to get there? Then contact us today and HR2You will help you get there!

5 Top Tips for Hiring

1: Profile the candidate that you want to hire. Spending time profiling will help you sort out the applications and know what to look for in the interviews.

2: Set list of interview questions. Have a common set of denominators to judge the candidates by. Don’t do it off the cuff. Think of it as a set script for interviews. Throw in a set of technical questions as well.

3: Write/review the job description. You can’t tell a candidate about the job if you don’t know what they are going to do. Write it out before you place the job ad. Have it at the interviews.

4: Interested candidates. Look for candidates that ask questions and come prepared to win the job. More than likely they will come prepared to win customers for you.

5: Follow up the referees. Ring the referees the candidates supply you with. Have a set list of questions for them. Take it to the next level and ring their former employers and enquire about them. Do your research and make sure you get the right employee for your business.

Dreadful Employer

Read this story about a country medical practice and you might understand why the Fair Work Act came into being and is weighted towards employees. The Angelsea Medical Centre faces sanctions for its terrible staff management practices.

The Fair Work Act has been around for 2 years now and so employers have no real excuse for not complying with the Modern Awards and National Employment Standards. It’s not that hard to become compliant and in fact the small costs in becoming compliant will be repaid back in spades with staff loyalty, retention and increased productivity.

Staff respect and prefer employers that have their act together (may have mentioned this earlier) so if you think you aren’t compliant contact us today and let’s have a chat about it.

Social Media Issues

Here is a story that makes a point about employees that get terminated after doing the wrong thing on Social Media. A tram driver that got caught taking photos of passengers and tram accidents and posting them online.

In the modern age of mass communication forums such as Facebook and Twitter your business businesses needs workplace policies that extend beyond the traditional business hours and set parameters for what staff can and can’t do online.

Staff that disparage the business or post inappropriate content are basically breaking the employer-employee bond and need to be aware that the consequences for doing so can be termination of employment. So make sure you have a workplace policy in place, induct them on it and clearly set the rules so employees don’t put themselves in a position where they might be fired.

Handy “Quote”

I insist that we continually ask our staff for any suggestions they might have, and I try my hand at their jobs.

Richard Branson

Categories: Human Resources, OH&S

HR2You – August 2011 Newsletter

August 29th, 2011 No comments

by HR2You at

Kultcha? We Got Plenty of it…

What is the culture like at your workplace? How do you manage it, improve it and maintain it? Especially in a growing business.

It’s important to remember that the culture in your workplace begins at the top. The boss sets the tone and leads the way. The way you treat your staff is the way they’ll treat your customers. So buy-in at the management level is very important. The MD and all senior managers must live and breathe the culture and spread it through their employees with their hiring, training and management of them.

Read more…

Categories: Human Resources, OH&S

Telling is better than being exposed

December 17th, 2010 No comments

by Kevin Jones at Safety At Work Blog

Many OHS laws place obligations on employers to notify regulators of any particularly serious (often defined) incidents.  In many jurisdictions regulators are sometimes informed of work-related hospital admissions, for instance, even if employers do not notify.  But there is substantial benefit in notifying the regulators early.

Anecdotal evidence shows that by facing up to the reality that an incident has occurred is less costly in the long term as this shows that one is aware of one’s OHS obligations and willing to apply them.

The wisdom of reporting incidents in a timely manner is perhaps illustrated by a 17 December 2010 article in The Age newspaper.  It is rumoured that incidents involving apprentice tiler Kane Ammerlaan may not have been reported to the OHS regulator in Victoria, WorkSafe.

Read more…

Categories: Articles, OH&S

Worker injured at Christmas party entitled to workers’ compensation

December 14th, 2010 Comments off

by Vecci

The Queensland Industrial Court has found an employee who injured her back while helping out at a Christmas party, organised by her employer, sustained a back injury in the course of her work, and is therefore entitled to compensation.

Ms Cooper was employed as a registered nurse by the Lutheran Church of Australia (Queensland district). Ms Cooper carried out her nursing duties at the Tabeel Nursing Home, owned by the Lutheran Church of Australia.

In the lead up to the 2007 Christmas season, Ms Cooper’s employer sought out volunteers to help out at a Christmas party that it intended to organise for the nursing home’s residents. Ms Cooper volunteered. The employer did not intend to provide remuneration to any of the volunteers, and Ms Cooper did not expect any payment.

Read more…

Categories: Articles, OH&S

Asbestos prosecution highlights community risks

November 6th, 2010 No comments

by Kevin Jones at Safety At Work Blog

A recent asbestos-related prosecution by WorkSafe Victoria illustrates the prevalence of asbestos as an environmental, public and occupational problem.

According to a media statement on 5 November 2010,

“Joshua Luke Marshall, operating as Affordable Demolitions and Asbestos Removals, told two separate homeowners he was licensed by WorkSafe to carry out asbestos removal work, although he didn’t hold a licence….”

“…The first incident was in January 2009, when Mr Marshall was hired to remove asbestos cement sheeting from a house in Corio.

Mr Marshall was halfway through the job when a WorkSafe inspector arrived at the property in response to an anonymous complaint.

“What our inspector found when he walked onto the property was unbelievable,” [WorkSafe's] Mr Forsyth said. “No barriers were in place to protect the rest of the house from dust or airborne fibres, the truck being loaded-up with material wasn’t covered, and there were no signs to alert people to the removal work.

On top of that, Mr Marshall and the person helping him weren’t protecting themselves with personal protective equipment like face masks and overalls,” he said.

The second incident occurred when Mr Marshall was demolishing a garage at a Torquay house in September 2009. Again, he assured the homeowner that he held a licence to remove and dispose of asbestos.”

Read more…

Categories: Articles, OH&S

Inappropriate workplace behaviour an OHS risk

October 22nd, 2010 Comments off

by HC Human Capital Online Magazine

In the wake of several high profile cases, law firm Minter Ellison has highlighted the importance of organisations properly managing allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour.

Human Resources and Industrial Relations partner, Samantha Betzien, said that companies can be vicariously liable for harassment and discrimination in the workplace, with significant damages awards possible.

Betzien pointed out that the cost to a company of such claims can be substantial, and not just in terms of the amount of the damages awarded. “Leaving aside any legal liability, the public attention that claims can receive can have a significant impact on a company’s reputation and can even adversely affect a company’s share price,” she said.

“A company’s liability is not limited to the incidents that happen in the workplace. If there is a connection between the inappropriate behaviour and the workplace, companies can also be held accountable for harassment or discrimination that occurs outside the workplace. This could potentially include activities using social media sites, such as Facebook.”

There are a number of strategies that companies can implement to manage and monitor workplace behaviour and protect against legal risk. According to Betzien, these include dealing with appropriate workplace behaviour in policies and procedures.

“What is and what isn’t appropriate behaviour needs to be clearly defined. It is particularly useful to include examples of these types of behaviours in your policy document,” Betzien recommended.

However, broad and sweeping ‘motherhood’ statements in harassment and discrimination policies should be avoided as these can create additional sources of liability for employers.

Effective training of all staff and refresher courses on harassment and discrimination, including dealing with grievances, is essential. “Managers must proactively manage workplace behaviour and deal with any issues quickly and appropriately,” Betzien noted. “There is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation when it comes to a complaint of inappropriate workplace behaviour. Whether reports are made formally or informally, all reports must be dealt with by management.”

Categories: Articles, OH&S

Stressed workers costing economy $730m a year

October 7th, 2010 Comments off

by HR Leader Online Magazine

Job-stress related depression is costing Australia’s economy $730 million a year, according to a new report. With employees taking on extra work and therefore excessive pressure, the strain is proving too much for many.

Associate Professor Tony LaMontagne from the University of Melbourne School of Population Health, said that “job strain”, where workers have little control over their job, but who are under high pressure to perform, accounts for 17 per cent of depression in working women and 13 per cent in working men.

“These figures represent a significant burden on the Australian economy that is preventable by improving job quality,” he said.

The report from University of Melbourne and VicHealth said that the $730 million job strain price tag includes lost productive time, employee replacement costs, government-subsidised mental health services and medications for depression.

It equates to $11.8 billion over the average working lifetime, with the biggest loss accruing to employers. The report also revealed an $85 million cost of absences for depressed workers who do not have access to paid sick leave, which also represents a significant cost to employees. “There has always been legal and ethical reasons for employers to address poor working conditions and to support staff, but these new findings add an economic incentive as well. Employers would be the major beneficiaries of reducing job strain over the long term, because the greatest costs fall on employers due to lost productivity and employee replacement,” said LaMontagne. Todd Harper, VicHealth CEO, added: “This report raises questions about the current workplace culture in Australia. We need to develop strategies that can be applied in all workplaces to make them healthier, happier and more productive environments that nurture good health rather than cause ill-health.”

Categories: Articles, OH&S

Small business OHS seems to be stalled

October 5th, 2010 No comments

by Kevin Jones at Safety At Work Blog

OHS research into why the small business sector does not “get” safety has been occurring in Australia for over ten years with some of the most useful being undertaken by Dr Claire Mayhew.  But the challenge, or problem, persists.

On 4 October 2010, WorkSafe Victoria released some information about an OHS blitz by inspectors on small businesses in Mildura, a rural town in the extreme northwest of Victoria.  In some ways, the tone of the media statement is a little defeatist or, at least, exasperated.

“Although we wrote to the businesses and told them we would be visiting, we still had to pull them up on a high number of health and safety issues,” Manufacturing and Logistics Director Ross Pilkington said.  “In many cases, the safety solutions were straightforward.”

98 small businesses were visited and 160 OHS breaches were identified resulting in improvement notices for the following issues:

  • Incorrect storage of dangerous goods
  • Damaged or faulty electrical tools and wiring
  • Forklift maintenance
  • Guarding on machinery, including lathes
  • Poor housekeeping
  • Manual handling (lifting, pushing and pulling)
  • Lack of perimeter guarding on mezzanine floors
  • Failing to display safe working load on shelving.

All of these are very familiar to OHS regulators and safety professionals. In fact many of these hazards have solutions listed on the WorkSafe website.

So why are small businesses not complying with OHS obligations?  Big question and not one that one blog article can answer.

OHS regulators are well versed in the research literature on the issue and the advertising strategies employed have exploited some of the motivators of workers, employers and the community.

Should WorkSafe have a higher community profile in rural areas?  It already sponsors country football and other rural activities and it is not as if WorkSafe hasn’t blitzed the city before.  In May 2007, WorkSafe reported:

“WorkSafe inspectors issued 97 improvement and 12 prohibition notices in a week-long workplace safety campaign in Mildura.”

That release also provided some regional costings on non-compliance:

“Apart from the impact of workplace deaths and injuries on individuals and local families, the cost of treatment, rehabilitation and compensation costs of 1277 reported work-related in Mildura over the past five financial years exceeds $22.4 million.  These costs are covered by employers’ WorkCover premiums.”

That’s a lot of money but the quote may answer the question of why small business does not embrace OHS:

“These costs are covered by employers’ WorkCover premiums.”

Insurance premiums do not get close to reflecting the actual cost of workplace injuries and deaths.  Businesses are not accountable for the cost of their own indifference or ignorance or laziness.  And, as a result of not being accountable, they are able to feel that the worker’s medical costs and return-to-work program is and SEP (Someone Else’s Problem).

The costs are outsourced to insurance companies so that businesses only have to pay the premium costs which, admittedly, can remain a heavy burden on a small business but are well below the true social and personal cost of injuries and rehabilitation.  It is worth asking how workplace safety would be managed in small business if workers’ compensation was not available?  We know from the experience of other countries that the cost of workplace injuries are absorbed by the community and perhaps social services but what of the management of safety, the prevention of injury?

It is worth revisiting some of the older research reports into small business safety like the work of Dr Felicity Lamm and Professor David Walters.  In 2003 they looked at the broader policy context and, amongst many other fascinating findings, wrote:

“…the key factors affecting OHS in the small business sector can be grouped under the following headings:

    • Low management and training skills;
    • Lack of resources;
    • Burden of compliance;
    • Relationship with regulatory agencies and the use of consultants;
    • Dependent relationship with large businesses; and
    • Employment and OHS practices.”

In 1997, Lamm stated a finding that, I believe, remains true to this day:

The paper also demonstrates that small business employers are becoming increasingly reliant on their accountant to provide a range of compliance advisory services, including OH&S.” [link added to abstract only]

Others suggest that in some industries OHS change may be best achieved through targeting spouses and other family members of particular significance in business decision-making.  Curiously, WorkSafe Victoria tried this in the farming sector in the early 1990s, if memory serves.

A WorkSafe small business initiative that I believes deserves analysis is its small business consulting service.  This strategy has operated for many years providing free consultancy services by private OHS providers for, usually, 3 hours.  In this period a consultant needs to identify, in practice, major OHS deficiencies, identify control measures and, most important, provide employers with the tools to manage their own OHS needs.  It is a tall order and is likely to lead to continuing services from the private providers in order to assist small business to comply with the law.

Publicly-available on the performance of this program is scarce with WorkSafe usually only releasing data on the number of businesses participating, as it has in the 2010 Annual Report (page 12) with over 2,500 businesses visited.  Page 23 of the 2009 Annual Report provides similar figures:

“Over 2400 businesses sought assistance from the program, up by 8% compared to the previous year and 33% compared to 2006/07.”
In 2005, the Annual Report indicated the number of business helped was 2,000.
It would be very interesting to see the results of an audit of the small business support project to determine whether much more than just numbers of participants.  Has there been some remarkable successes in the program that have changed the relationship between the small business and WorkSafe and how OHS has been implemented?  How are the OHS service providers selected, audited and, perhaps, de-registered if under-performing?
There is a small business category in the many annual OHS awards but much more important is any lessons from the support programs that others can implement.

There certainly are no obvious solutions to improving safety in this economic sector but safety seems to have stalled.  There needs to be a innovative approach to small business safety and I accept that these are being sought by regulators but it is also valid to question the value of long-standing business support programs, particularly if the results have plateau-ed.

“Over 2400 businesses sought assistance from the program, up by 8% compared to the previous year and 33% compared to 2006/07.”

If you appreciate this article, please show your support by visiting Kevin Jone’s Safety At Work blog at

Categories: Articles, OH&S

Never admitting guilt is contrary to OHS principles

September 17th, 2010 No comments

by Kevin Jones at Safety At Work Blog

Many companies plead guilty to breaches of OHS legislation but remain convinced that they have done nothing wrong.

Employers have been constantly frustrated by never being sure that they are complying with OHS law because compliance is now a very grey area and one that  few people are brave enough to say has been achieved.  So it is no surprise when an employer responds to a workplace incident by saying “I’ve done nothing wrong”.  In their experience this statement is true but if they had a basic understanding of safety and OHS law (two very different things), they would know that if an incident occurs something must have gone wrong.

One of the frustrations of the safety profession is that, in the real world, when someone admits guilt it equates to an admission of doing something wrong.  That does not seem to be case in Law where guilty pleas are entered as a risk management strategy for reducing the level of penalty.  In the Courts, a guilty plea is often perceived as a cynical exercise by the employer (and their lawyer) while the families of the victim are looking for remorse, an expression of regret and maybe even an apology.

The Michigan Municipal League provides a MIOSHA Inspection Procedure form on its website to assist business operators. It advises:

“If the inspector finds a violation, never admit guilt or knowledge of the condition. Remember, the inspector is not there to help with internal safety efforts but to issue fines for violations.”

Look at the advice provided by several US insurance brokers to Risk & Insurance magazine in a 2008 article:

“Educate your employees. Instruct them to never admit guilt or take responsibility. Often, your employee or organization may not have caused the accident, but someone stepped forward and took the blame. You can even lose coverage because insurance will not cover intentional acts.”

The default setting in Western society seems to be to admit nothing unless guilt can be proven.  Safety is often “only follow the rules when the boss is watching” or only when there is a real threat of immediate penalty.  We see this in relation to speed cameras, the wearing of PPE, disciplining children in public and many other situations.

OHS is based on a no-blame system in a society that wants to allocate blame.  Society is clever enough to understand that some incidents are unavoidable but it also expects someone to stand up and accept responsibility for the mistakes that were avoidable.

If you appreciate this article, please show your support by visiting Kevin Jone’s Safety At Work blog at

Categories: Articles, OH&S