Flammable liquids safety: the role of leaders and decision makers 

Oct 7, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Good work design is more effective when your organisation has the visible commitment of key leaders and decision makers. So in this blog we’ll be looking at how business owners and senior management can play a more visible role when supporting the development of safe work systems — particularly for Class 3 Flammable Liquids. This blog is the latest in our series on applying the principles of good work design to the management of flammable liquids and other Dangerous Goods. 

Principle 7 — good work design engages decision makers and leaders. Safe Work Australia 

Good work design - Principle 7 

Good Work Design Principle 7 recognises that business owners, senior executives, and the Board of Directors must be visible and transparent in their commitment to work health and safety. A visible commitment to good work design — and developing a safety culture in the workplace — includes: 

  • Allocating sufficient funds in the budget to provide proper safety equipment, chemical storage facilities, preventative maintenance, supervision, and trainingEg, having sufficient staffing levels to carry out weekly inspections and maintenance on chemical stores, fuel tanks and decanting areas.  
  • Awareness of the key safety issues at individual job sites by business owners, directors, and executives. Eg, key executives are familiar with onsite chemical quantities and understand the way flammable liquids contribute to the risk profile of the job site. 
  • Having an active safety committee where worker representatives, supervisors, and senior management respond to health and safety issues. Eg, the General Manager attends all safety committee meetings. 
  • Benchmarking safety performance against industry standards — then sharing the results with workers. Eg, working with Dangerous Goods auditors to evaluate site storage data against industry standards. 
  • Managing supply chains to improve organisational efficiencies as well as workplace safety. Eg, inspecting the premises of chemical suppliers to witness how they package and prepare a chemical delivery. 
  • Being responsive to health and safety issues reported by workers or the Safety Committee. Eg, investigating the cause of an uncontrolled chemical spill and purchasing flammable liquids cabinets in direct response. 
  • Engaging Dangerous Goods auditors and other industry experts to advise on safe work systems. Eg, having external auditors carry out monthly audits of flammable liquids storage and handling processes and equipment. 

When business owners and executives are genuinely committed to good work design they take an active role in the implementation of operational policy and safe work systems — rather than merely delegating all responsibility to the HSE Manager. 

Directing operating policy 

Business owners and senior management play a critical role in designing out risk and hazards by the way they direct operating policy. It’s about making safety a critical element of organisational procedure -- and then providing the resources necessary to implement and enforce individual policies. Let’s look at the following example to demonstrate. 

SCENARIO 1: The HSE Manager issues a policy that restricts access to flammable liquids stores. ‘Authorised Entry Only’ signs are put up at the site entrance, and near the chemical stores — and the HSE Manager sends everyone onsite an email requesting adherence with the new policy. 

SCENARIO 2: The General Manager and HSE Manager develop a policy to restrict access to flammable liquids stores. The General Manager allocates a budget for purchasing signage, and implementing a visitor registration system (including ID cards) and enough staffing to allow site visitors and contractors an escort while accessing premises. The policy is launched via the Safety Committee, which includes attendance by the General Manager and all departmental managers and supervisors. 


Empowering managers and supervisors 

Business owners and executives must ensure that departmental managers and line supervisors understand the range of hazards and safety risks in their area of control. They need suitable training and mentoring in safety issues, and should undergo regular performance appraisals to ensure they consistently: 

  • Challenge all incidences of unsafe behaviour and take immediate corrective action. Eg, calling out a worker for leaving open containers of flammable solvent on a workbench. Then having the worker put the containers away immediately. 
  • Meet the organisation’s own safety standards, eg visibly seen wearing correct PPE when supervising workers at the fuel decanting station. 
  • Maintain a visible presence in their departmental area and are on-hand supervising their workers, eg, the production supervisor doesn’t spend an entire shift in the office completing paperwork. 

IMPORTANT: Managers and supervisors need to be held accountable to senior management for safety breaches, poor housekeeping and maintenance in their department. These responsibilities should be included in job descriptions and duty statements.


Next steps 

The best way to pitch safe work procedures to your key executives and decision makers is to clearly outline how their implementation will result in a cost cuts, waste minimisation, and increased productivity. Why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors? It has everything you need to make an effective presentation to senior management on the compliance and efficiency benefits of using flammable liquids safety cabinets that have been manufactured to Australian Standard AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Download and read it today by clicking on the image below: 

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. He helps organisations reduce risk and improve efficiencies in the storage and management of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals.

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