Archive for September, 2010

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.

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Categories: Articles, OH&S

HR’s top 5 staff management pitfalls

September 14th, 2010 No comments

by Vantage Human Capital 

  There are five main pitfalls to how companies manage their people, and these HR errors cost Australian businesses millions of dollars and a huge amount of wasted time each year, according to HR and recruitment specialists Vantage Human Capital. 

Vantage Human Capital’s managing director, Mr Richard Dunks, said how firms handle these five key issues is a good indicator of whether they will be dealing with HR issues such as lack of motivation, negative workplace culture and high staff turnover.

“The biggest consequence of poor staff management is high staff turnover, which impacts on a business in many ways. Crucially, it will cost one year’s salary for each employee you lose so it’s worthwhile finding out how to reduce this unnecessary cost and heartache,” said Dunks.

HR’s top 5 staff management pitfalls:

1. Ignoring your staff, sitting in your office and admiring the view

Management means that you are meant to ‘manage’; this requires action. Uninspiring managers are seldom capable of motivating staff to reach and strive for their brilliant best.

“Be an active manager with your people, not the invisible man or woman,” said Dunks.

“If you don’t know and understand your staff, you’re missing out on achieving performance excellence. The first thing you should do when taking over a management role is to make the time to talk to each of your staff privately, and develop a professional rapport.

“Identify the issues that are stopping your staff from doing their job well and reaching their full potential. Get your HR manager to organise a confidential staff survey to assist you work out the real business issues and address them.

“Whether you have 15 staff or 6000, work out a plan so that over a six month period you speak to as many staff as possible,” he said.

2. Trying to be a pal, not a manager – you can’t be everybody’s buddy

Understand the difference between being a friendly, polite professional manager and trying to be a ‘friend’ to your staff – being both at the same time is a near impossible feat. Many of your staff will be put off, some will wonder about your ability to lead and the issue of confidentiality.

“Be friendly and approachable but understand that being a friend is a behaviour that may compromise your ability to lead your team; at the very least it will not allow you to be objective about decision making,” said Dunks.

“Be clear, professional, inspiring and motivational. Give meaningful and positive feedback, be approachable and friendly. These are the qualities that will assist you gain the nirvana of all management statuses – respect.”

“If you inspire people and have their respect, this is when you actually have people in the workplace who are excited to be there. Just think about how your business would perform if people were excited about giving you 110 per cent effort,” he said.

3. Being rudeness personified

Nobody enjoys being bullied, harassed, sworn at, intimidated, humiliated in front of the team or have their ideas stolen (without recognition) by the boss.

“I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the years and staff always remember how the boss has treated them – if treated poorly, they will leave at the first opportunity,” said Dunks.

“Recently a candidate told me that she had been sexually harassed by an external client of her firm – and was told to “toughen up” by her boss. As soon as she had the opportunity, she left that company for an employer who showed a more professional approach.

“If you are after respect, being rude is the surest way to blow it in a second. Remember, 9 times out of 10 people leave managers, not companies.”

4. Ignoring the elephant in the room

If someone in your team is being harassed by someone in the company, chances are people will know about this. They will be waiting for you – yes you – as manager, to do something about it.

“This is where a good HR Manager is very useful to assist you in professionally addressing these types of issues that do eventuate in the workplace. Situations can get very complex with many delicate legal matters to consider. So do ask for help and take action,” he said.

5. Putting your mouth into gear before your brain

Strategically think through your plans, to understand the repercussions and business benefits of change. Consult, gather information and execute your business changes professionally.

“We’ve all seen examples of the disorganized manager who makes a decision then changes his or her mind, with a major impact on staff, their job roles and working life.”
Remember, ‘do what you say and say what you do’.


Categories: Human Resources

Safety Week In Australia

September 7th, 2010 No comments

Every year, the last week of October is Safety Week in Australia.  Every State organises some tremendous events promoting ocupational, health & safety (OHS) in the workplace.  So please follow the links below to find out what is happening in your part of town.

Australia  -  ACT  -  NSW  -  NT  -  QLD  -  TAS  -  VIC WA

Having been involved in events in the past, we thoroughly recommend you making time to visit some of the many free information events.

Categories: General