Get into shape when it comes to safety
SHAPE Australia has launched the SHAPE Minimum Standards app to address the issue of workplace safety across Australian trade industries. Sean Carroll finds out more.
Have you ever been on the job, about to start and just wondering: “Have I got everything?”
Have you got the last thing checked off? Did you do this? Did you do that? And so on. Yes, you could run over the rules again but it’s not quite accessible in the middle of a job, is it?
Conversely, what if you’re not confident using whatever equipment it may be? There’s now an app, the SHAPE Minimum Standards (SMS) app, that can help operators and tradies check up on the relevant standards and best practices for the specific equipment.
“The SMS app provides construction workers with quick and easy access to environmental, health, safety and quality management information from any mobile device,” SHAPE Australia group executive – environmental, health, safety & quality Phillip Smith says.
It’s Phillip’s role to ensure the safety standards, awareness and recommendations are up to date and to establish a program of continual improvement while managing incidents.
“Essentially, the SMS app was developed to address common safety hazards and create a streamlined approach for safety onsite, breaking down policies and procedures into easily understood dot points, images and diagrams that could be easily accessed,” he says.
The app is updated in real time and like its name, it gives users the absolute minimum standards that need to be considered and implemented by the relevant trades in performing an activity or process, based on best practice principles.
These minimum standards are generally over and above industry standards whilst maintaining alignment with SHAPE third party certified procedures, Australian Standards, legislation and codes of practice.
“It assists tradies in developing their safe systems of work, conduct risk assessments and recognise potential onsite safety hazards in real time. It contains the key expectations of SHAPE’s environmental, health, safety and quality management systems, as well as relevant WHS legislation, Australian Standards, and codes of practice,” Phillip explains.
“For example, if a worker is about to use an angle grinder, they can go to the app and look up the key requirements for the safe use for this piece of equipment. In addition to our requirements on how to use the grinder safely, the SMS app also provides information on the manufacturer’s instruction and industry best-practice.”
The app was borne out of the need to make the building and construction industry safer. Among Australian work industries, construction posted the third highest number of fatalities and the fifth highest fatality rate per 100,000 workers in 2020 (26 and 2.2 respectively).
The idea behind the SMS app is the streamline on-site safety, giving users a final check on what they should be doing if unsure. It was released a year ago and since then, SHAPE Australia has seen a positive impact on its safety stats (FY20-21) and on its own sites including:
- First aid incidents: 6.6% decrease
- Non-compliance reports: 52% decrease
- Near miss reports: 9% decrease
- Total incidents reported: 6.3% decrease
SHAPE has also increased its total number of proactive hazard observations from 30,026 in FY20 to 38,949 in FY21 – a 30% increase.
“The construction industry is one of Australia’s highest risk industries. Across the industry too many workers are killed or seriously injured while working on a site. The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 has identified the construction industry as a priority due to the high number and rate of work-related fatalities and serious injuries,” Phillip adds.
“The SMS app was developed to address common safety hazards and create a streamlined approach for safety onsite that was quick and easy to access. SHAPE then took it a step further and committed to making the app freely available on any Australian worksite in an effort to boost industry safety standards.”
He builds on this by saying that SHAPE Australia wants to improve safety standards across the entire industry. To do this, the company has made the app accessible for anyone to download and use.
“At SHAPE, we want to see safety standards improve across the entire construction industry which is why we’re extremely proud to offer the industry-first SMS app publicly, hoping it can help other companies who don’t have the capacity to create something similar,” Phillip concludes.
“Our aim in making the app publicly available is so that the construction industry can work collaboratively to help lift the safety outcomes on construction sites nationwide.”