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The cost of being prosecuted for a breach of workplace safety regulations runs far deeper than paying a fine.
Other than the obvious human cost, should any person suffer an injury or worse; there is also brand and reputation damage, a lowering in employee confidence, an unwillingness for contractors to provide services on-site, the direct cost of putting it right (employee training, internal costs of reviews etc…), the consequential costs on your organization’s insurance premiums, and a lowering of investor confidence.
Organizations may also suffer a loss of sales, as many customers have their own policies prohibiting them from sourcing services and products from suppliers who cannot demonstrate a good workplace safety record.
Workplace safety regulators must consider many factors when looking to proceed with a prosecution for a breach of law.
You can do everything by the book when it comes to your compliance obligations but there is often one element of workplace safety practice that is commonly overlooked and it may cost you more than you think.
Signs, labels, hazard boards, and emails are commonly used tools for informing people of potential hazards and risks.
Collectively they address the ‘minimize’ element of hazard management best practice where there is an obligation to ‘inform’ people of hazards.
But how does an employer prove someone has read and understood that hazard notice?
You can require that all employees, visitors, and contractors add their signature to a Hazard Sheet, then date and time stamp it for auditing if required at a later date. Can you be sure if the legibility of the person’s handwriting stacks up in court if it comes to that?
If you send an email you can add a ‘read receipt’ when the email notification is delivered and the recipient opens (and presumably reads) it. This may prove the person opened the email but not that they have necessarily read it.
Both practices are better than nothing at all but they are difficult to audit and track on any scale.
WhosOnLocation users can post hazard warnings to employee and/or contractor’s mobile phones requiring them to acknowledge the hazard when they arrive on-site.
Notices can also be posted for visitors, contractors, and employees to acknowledge when signing in at a visitor kiosk.
A date and time stamp of every acknowledgement is available for auditing at a later date should the need require it.
Tracking the acknowledgement of hazard notices is not explicit in any law, but not doing so opens you up to he said | she said arguments should they arise.
If having a robust process for ensuring your people are ‘informed’ of hazards, enables you to track their acknowledgement, you may just save yourself more than a few bucks.