Women need to be recognised in workplace Occupational Health and Safety

Men and women’s different working conditions and treatment by society can affect the risks both genders face at work, as well as how to assess and control these risks, according to a new resource published by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF).  

While there is an emphasis on creating safer and healthier workplaces, often women’s occupational health and safety is not given enough attention or ignored completely, putting workers at risk of injury and ill health.

Many women have raised concerns that health and safety issues particularly affecting women at work (such as gender-related violence, pregnancy, menstruation and menopause) are not being adequately addressed.

Both “gender”, which describes those characteristics of women and men that are largely created by societal expectations, and “sex”, which encompasses characteristics that are biologically determined, affect workers’ health and safety in many ways.

Exposure to the same risks may impact on women and men differently, “Work predominantly undertaken by women is often wrongly presumed to be lighter, easier and safer than that undertaken by men and consequently receives less attention. While men may suffer more accidents and fatalities at work, the reality is that women often work in physically hard and often repetitive jobs such as in agriculture, cleaning, hotel work, social care, domestic work and food manufacturing”. 

The keys to gender-sensitive OSH practice aimed at governments, employers and workers highlight the need to:

  • develop policies to address inequalities;
  • explore the effects of gender roles on safety and health;
  • include gender in risk assessment;
  • analyse risk in both male- and female-dominated occupations;
  • ensure that OSH research (including government research) takes account of gender differences;
  • develop systems to collects sex-disaggregated OSH data;
  • incorporate the findings from OSH research and data into policy-making and workplace action;
  • provide equal access to occupational health services for all;
  • provide gender sensitive information, education and training;
  • design workplaces, work equipment, tools and PPE for women and men;
  • consider working time arrangements and work-life balance; and
  • fully involve women and men workers in the decisions that affect their safety and health at all levels.

20 ways to manage municipal waste more effectively in 2020

2020 marks the start of a new year and a new decade.

It’s a great opportunity for local authorities to assess how well thier essential services are functioning, in order to put new initiatives in place to innovate your services over the next 10 years.

20 top tips to help create a foundation for improvement in 2020 and beyond…

1. Set clear refuse collection policies
A strong framework is critical to setting clear expectations for the year ahead, so that colleagues, collection crews and local communities know exactly what refuse will be collected and when.

Think carefully about how to communicate these policies to residents, so they can check whether guidelines are being met throughout the year, in order to build a trusting relationship.

2. Encourage people to recycle more
Local authorities have a duty of care to not only educate households on effective waste disposal, but to promote recycling where possible. This starts with explaining to residents exactly what materials can be recycled and when.
The easier the recycling policies are to follow, the better uptake you will get in the local area. Consistency is key; recyclable goods should be collected on the same weekly or bi-weekly day, so that households get into the habit of putting the right refuse out for collection.

3. Introduce new marketing initiatives
Tying into recycling initiatives, it’s important to think about how the waste management strategy converts into marketing activities, in order to ensure investment drives results.
Consider your key goals for the year ahead, and craft marketing campaigns around them.
For example, if your top objective is to increase recycling rates by 25%, then the marketing focus could be around practical suggestions to help households recycle more materials.

4. Digitally engage with local residents
Many local authorities still rely on paper communications to manage waste, but online initiatives can do a better job of updating the community on refuse collection activities.
One effective way to digitally engage people is introducing a resident mobile app, which enables households to look up your policies, check when their next bin collection is taking place, and leave feedback on the service being provided.

5. Create a two-way information flow
Mobile apps are not only an effective method for reaching residents; they encourage the kind of two-way feedback needed to improve your services.
Local residents are the people whose opinions matter most, as they judge the quality of the waste management operation. There may be small issues that the central team is unaware of, which can be easily fixed if residents have the means to report them.

6. Find waste management ambassadors within the community
Mobilising neighbourhoods to manage their waste effectively doesn’t have to just be driven by authority officials. There are often natural advocates within the community, who can act as official ambassadors to support your campaigns.
In 2020, use the new mobile app to search for waste management or streets and environment ambassadors, who can help you to improve collection services and recycling uptake. Many people will happily take on this role voluntarily, if it makes the neighbourhood a nicer place to live.

7. Shout about your successes
It’s very easy for local authorities to get caught up in negative stories and community complaints.
If an improved approach to waste management yields successes in your area, make sure you communicate it to residents, and thank people for their role in improving local services.
Positivity breeds positivity.

8. Learn from complaints and show residents you’re listening
To truly innovate waste management services, you need to learn from what local residents have to say and create an action plan based on the points raised.
It’s also important to report back on these actions, to make sure that residents realise you are listening to their feedback and making changes.

9. Get a complete, clear overview of all activities
Understanding what the community wants from their refuse collection service is paramount, but local authorities can only respond effectively to this feedback if you have a complete overview of all the waste management activities.
Many teams struggle to achieve this overview currently, because staff are operating varied systems and processes. Centralising all workflows through municipal waste management technology is the simplest, easiest way to work holistically, making effective strategic decisions in 2020 and beyond.

10. Get all team members working from the same system
Integrating all waste management activities through a central technology platform is fundamental to creating a smooth-running operation, yet the success of any tech investment relies on all team members using that software effectively.

11. Analyse your current waste management workflows
One of the most powerful aspects of waste management software is the data insights it reveals about your operation.
Channelling everything through one platform reveals immediate issues with current workflows that can easily be amended and improved for a better-functioning refuse collection system.

12. Go paperless
The importance of sustainability has increased significantly in the past few years and local authorities will be under pressure to enhance your eco-friendly credentials in 2020.

13. Streamline collection logistics
Think carefully about how central decisions impact logistics in the field.
For example, increased data on refuse volumes will tell you exactly how many trucks are needed to collect rubbish week-on-week. You may be able to reduce the number of collection crews on duty some weeks as a result, cutting your carbon footprint while saving costs.

14. Form closer connections with crews
With fewer crews potentially on duty in 2020, the relationship you build with field-based workers will be very important to ensure a seamless operation.
To achieve this, you need a system in place for gathering feedback, which also allows crews to report problems encountered en route.

15. Upgrade your in-cab technology
To make communication with collection crews easier, local authorities may need to look more closely at your in-cab technology in the year ahead.
Best-in-class mobile applications digitise the relationship between central staff and teams in the field, empowering crews to receive work on the go, co-ordinate vehicle checks, capture evidence of exceptions and navigate to job locations.

16. Respond quickly to incidents
Improves the way waste management teams respond to unforeseen circumstances.
For example, if collection crews report incidents like missed collections and fly tipping. This reaction process shows residents that you are committed to optimising waste management services, making sure the neighbourhood is a nice place to live.

17. Put plans in place for peak waste periods
It’s important that your waste management team also uses software to look ahead to periods where refuse volumes may surge peak in 2020.
Regular calendar event such as Easter, Christmas and Bank Holidays can play havoc with collection days and cause a rubbish surplus, which often takes weeks to clear. Understanding the likely impact ahead of time will enable your team to create mitigating plans, and stop black bags mounting up on the kerbside.

18. Regularly report on your performance
An essential objective for 2020 should be to report regularly on your waste management performance, and then share your successes with management colleagues.
The quickest way to get buy-in on future marketing campaigns, policy changes and technology investment is to show return on investment (ROI) – and with the right public sector waste management software.

19. Look at where budget can be spent more efficiently
On the subject of ROI, effective reporting systems will show your waste management team what investment is making a difference.
Use technology to continuously measure performance, making strategic changes where required.

20. Invest in waste management software
Many of the tips we’ve discussed in this blog post involve the use of technology, and that’s with good reason: it’s the simplest, most-effective way to transform your waste management services.
Talented, well-organised teams can only optimise refuse collections so far; to be truly innovative, you need a digital platform that can centralise activities, integrate data, coordinate teams in any location, and enable real-time decisions.
Budgets will continue to be tight in 2020, so the natural urge for local authorities is to shy away from investing in new technology. However, the operational and financial savings made from tech-based improvements will ensure your waste management team is running at top-flight performance over the next 12 months – and beyond.

Road Safety Week (18-24 November): employers urged to step up policies and procedures

As part of Road Safety Week 2019, taking place this week (18-24 November) employers are being asked to step up their driving at work policies and procedures to ensure they choose safe systems solutions.

New research by road safety Charity Brake, organisers of the event, has revealed that nearly a third of adults were in a collision, or had a near miss, with a vehicle on a UK road in the past year. The research, from a survey of 2,000, has been published to highlight the level of danger felt on UK roads and to encourage people to “Step Up for Safe Streets” for National Road Safety Week 2019.

Around a third of all road collisions are believed to involve someone driving for work, making the week an opportunity for employers to take a fresh look at their policies and procedures and consider what could be done to ensure employees are travelling to and at work safely.

Driving for Better Business commissioned a survey to explore the underlying attitudes and behaviours that persist in organisations where employees drive for work-related purposes.

The survey sought to explore where employers’ or employees’ actions – or inaction – could contribute to an increase in occupational road risk through driver distraction, stress, poor maintenance practices and lack of awareness or non-compliance with legal requirements.

Key findings include:

  • There is a disconnect between senior management’s claims of good practice and what the employees driving for work are experiencing.
  • Leaders often fail to ensure all employees who drive for work are aware of and implement the company’s driving for work policy.
  • Most executives don’t know whether or how often staff use their own cars for business yet 90% of the employees surveyed said they did and a surprising number of them were not insured to do so.
  • Awareness of the need for regular vehicle checks is extremely low.
  • Work schedules for employees that drive for work are contributing to stress.

Says a spokesperson for Driving for Better Business:
“Employers and employees have a shared responsibility, and indeed a legal obligation, to manage it (driving at work) effectively, because health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does to all work activities.

A comprehensive and robust driving for work policy is fundamental for any organisation that has employees that drive for work. However, management and leaders need to recognise factors that go beyond compliance with existing regulations and legislation. Policies should recognise and deal with factors that can affect employee wellbeing and lead to poor decision-making while driving for work.

Driving for work policies are only valuable if they are communicated effectively and complied with across the entire organisation. Leaders, management and employees all have a responsibility to abide by the guidance in the organisation’s driving for work policies.”