Good staff

How Do You Keep Them?

The common misconception is that all you have to do is pay well. Many studies have found that this is simply not the case… in fact, it generally comes in around third or fourth on the employee list of ‘job satisfaction’ priorities. Paying a fair and reasonable salary is expected but of high priority is the need to provide a great company culture. What that really means is provide a great company atmosphere. Make it a happy place to be and strive to create a culture where everyone gets along and helps fellow employees – cultivate real team spirit. Also have a company-wide rule – ‘always do the right thing by our clients’. Maintain a positive ethos at all levels of the business and recognise the value of good humour.

Doing as much as you can to create a great atmosphere at work goes a long way to retaining quality staff.

On the relationship building and work side of things, here are more suggestions to help develop the desired culture in your business:

Get to know your staff: Although you need to be mindful of privacy considerations, try to find out what drives them…. different people have different triggers and finding out what they are will help in your relationship.

Develop their skills: Training is a critical factor, as it not only provides benefits for your business but also identifies a career path for them and can help develop their aspirations.

Engage them in the business: If people feel connected with the values and direction of the business, they will be comfortable putting forward their views. By having the opportunity to ‘have a say’, they see that their work and they themselves are important to the business. It takes appreciated, valued employees to ensure long-term success for any business.

Provide feedback: Not just the traditional annual Performance Review and measuring of KPI’s… it’s an ongoing position of providing feedback; positive and appreciative feedback when it’s due and swift course correction in areas that need improvement.

Remember, times change, so don’t expect to keep good staff forever. It’s unlikely that you will be able to offer the flow of opportunities that the really good ones will be seeking. But they will contribute their energy and passion while working with you, provided you fulfill your side of the relationship.

Tougher Transport Laws

Penalties to Hit Harder

Recent changes to transport laws now hold more individuals and companies in the transport chain accountable for breaches.

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) commenced in 2014 and applies in all States of Australia except Western Australia. The legislation applies to all vehicles that have a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) or ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) of more than 4.5 tonnes.

The HVNL makes complying with transport laws the responsibility of everyone in the transport chain, not just drivers and operators. This approach recognises that actions, inactions and demands made by off-the-road parties play a role in road safety.

Under the chain of responsibility provisions of the HVNL, consignors, packers, loaders, schedulers and consignees must all take reasonable steps to prevent breaches of laws in relation to mass, dimension, loading, speed and fatigue. As well, an ‘executive officer’ of any party in the chain can be responsible for a breach of the law by another party if they knowingly authorised or permitted the conduct or if they knew or ought reasonably to have known that there was a substantial risk that an offence would be committed.

The potential penalties under the legislation are significant. For example, the maximum penalty for a single offence involving a critical breach of the fatigue regulations is $15,000 for an individual and a five times multiplier (making the penalty $75,000) can be applied if the offender is a corporation. The offence of tampering with a speed limiter attracts a penalty of $10,000. Similar fines apply for offences such as severe overloading or speeding. The law also provides for heavy penalties to be imposed on parties who enter into contracts that encourage or provide an incentive for any party in the chain of responsibility to speed.

In addition to fines and penalties, the legislation gives the courts power to impose penalties that reflect the commercial benefits that an offender has derived from offences. Persistent offenders can also be subject to intervention orders and prohibition orders banning them from being involved with the transport industry for up to one year.

Pollution Liability Insurance

A Must-Have For Many Businesses

Many business owners are unaware their standard business package insurance will not cover pollution remediation. It’s likely that contractors and other professionals working on major infrastructure and construction projects will have appropriate cover, but the cover is not just for heavy industry. Businesses with high risk include dry cleaners and hair salons due to chemicals they store and use. Service stations are vulnerable because of the potential leakage from underground storage tanks and pipes corroding over time.

Recently there was a $300,000 clean-up claim from a contractor that had serviced pipes at a petrol station. An explosion at a sewerage plant, some kilometres away, was traced back to the service station, and it was discovered that pollutants had flowed into the water table.

Pollution incidents are not confined to heavy industrial sites, they can also be caused by small businesses or individuals such as contractors or subcontractors – for example, due to a failure to install proper sediment controls while undertaking earthworks.

Independent contractors need to protect themselves against any claims of damage caused by the work they do or have done. One type of cover that may be suitable is pollution liability insurance. This cover protects an entity against liability from damage caused by hazardous waste materials. The reality is that environmental clean-up projects can cost millions of dollars.

It’s too late to buy cover if you cause an incident and you should be aware that pollution liability is not covered under a general liability policy. Some policies may provide coverage only for sudden and accidental events, but exclude gradual pollution events and the cover may specifically exclude clean-up costs.

Mould, Legionella, noise and odour are also considered pollutions and may be covered by an environmental insurance policy.

If you think you may have a risk of hazardous waste exposure in your business operations, it is a good idea to consult with your insurance broker about the need for pollution liability insurance.