TLIE3004 – Complete workplace forms Copy

TLIE3004 – Complete workplace forms Copy

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Element 3: Complete workplace forms

3.1 – Work related form/s is interpreted to identify information required for its completion

By the end of this chapter, the learner will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose and importance of work related forms
  • Recognise the key criteria of workplace forms
  • Identify the information required in a workplace form
  • Know what to do if unsure about completing a workplace form.

Work Related Forms

The number and variety of forms in use in the transport and logistics industry is immense.  These forms exist for a number of reasons.

Reasons include:

  • Legal requirement (e.g. Concerning the transportation of dangerous goods or hazardous waste, etc.)
  • Organisational requirement (i.e. To comply with company procedures)
  • To enable tracking and analysis (e.g. Fuel consumption, working hours, the achievement of delivery standards, etc.)
  • To inform decision-making (e.g. To help decisions to be made about changes in policy or training regarding fuel efficiency, etc.).

All forms, regardless of their purpose, should follow some key criteria.

These key criteria include that forms should be:

Complete

Accurate

Legible

Timely

Let us now look at each of these criteria in turn.

Complete

An incomplete form raises questions in the minds of those using the forms at a later date.

Do gaps exist because:

  • There is no information available?
  • The person completing the form didn’t understand it?
  • There was an attempt to hide undesirable information (e.g. Slow or incomplete delivery, etc.)?
  • The form was completed in a hurry and information was missed, etc.?

Whatever the reason for the gap in information, it can affect analysis and decision-making as a result of that particular form, and it could potentially lead to prosecution or other legal action in the event of an incident or inspection.  Dates and signatures omitted from forms, for example, could have a serious impact on the organisation.

Accurate

It almost goes without saying that the information recorded on workplace forms and documents must be accurate for the same reasons that they must be complete.  Where the person completing the form is unsure about the accuracy of the data they are including, they should follow workplace procedures for this situation (in some situations, an estimate or a range of data may be acceptable) or seek guidance from a supervisor.  Falsifying official documents is an offence and whoever is completing a workplace form needs to be mindful of this.

Legible

When documents are handwritten, it is important that the writing is legible.  If the person completing the form has handwriting which is difficult for others to read, they should take steps to avoid this causing a problem.

For example, they could:

Take more time to write clearly

Write in capital letters rather than script

Type the data into the form, if possible, etc.

Timely

Forms should be completed at an appropriate time. If there is a delay between the event being recorded and the completion of the form, there is a reliance on the person’s memory.  It only takes one distraction to lead to the person forgetting an important detail and this can make the form inaccurate or incomplete.  As a general rule, forms should be completed within the timeframes stated in the company’s procedure.

Timeframes may include the following:

Immediate (i.e. Immediately an event occurs)

Within an hour/24 hours of an event

Within a day, 3 days, one week, one month, etc.

Delays in completing workplace forms can lead to similar problems as for them being incomplete or inaccurate – they can lead to delays in analysis, reporting and decision-making, etc.

Completing Workplace Forms

There are three key steps in completing workplace forms:

Identifying the information required to complete the workplace form

Gathering the information needed for the form

Completing the form.

In this section, we will concentrate on the first step.

Identifying the information required for the form

It is important to know what information is being asked for in a workplace form so that it can be completed fully and accurately.

The precise information required will vary depending on the purpose of the form but may include:

Vehicle number

Delivery number

Invoice number

Driver’s name and number

Customer name and address

Dates and times

Signatures

Department code

Comments/other details, etc.

Some factual data is easy to complete, the vehicle driver’s name should be straightforward, for example.  However, some fields or questions on forms can lead to some uncertainty in the person completing it, particularly when the form is new to them.

Fields on a form which require the respondent to write comments or provide any other information can be particularly difficult, especially if the person doesn’t know what is considered relevant or important.

There are several steps which you can take if you are unsure about how to complete a workplace form.

These steps include:

Review the fields on the form and identify what information is being asked for

Read any guidance notes which accompany the form, if relevant

Review completed versions of the form to see how others have completed it

Ask for guidance from a supervisor or colleague

Read the company procedure relating to that form, etc.

3.2 – Required information for completion of form is gathered from relevant sources in accordance with workplace procedures

By the end of this chapter, the learner will be able to:

  • Identify different sources of information
  • Choose the correct sources of information for the forms being completed
  • Follow workplace procedures for gathering information correctly.

Gathering Information for Workplace Forms

In the previous section, we identified that there are three key steps in completing workplace forms, and we focused on the first step:

Identifying the information required to complete the workplace form

Gathering the information needed for the form

Completing the form.

In this section, we will concentrate on the second step:  gathering the information needed for the form.

Sources of information

Information which is required for workplace forms can come from many different sources.

These sources may include:

Computer-based data (e.g. Databases, live systems, archived records, etc.)

Paper-based data (e.g. Other forms, reports, records, etc.)

Observations (e.g. Physical inspections and audits such as vehicle inspections, etc.)

Information from others (e.g. Interview data, witness statements, etc.).

We need to remember that the key criteria discussed in the previous section still apply regardless of the source of the information.

The key criteria are that the information should be:

Complete

Accurate

Legible

Timely.

For each source of data, it is important to consider how these key criteria apply.

Computer-based data

On the face of it, this is often regarded as fully complete, accurate, legible, timely and therefore trustworthy.  However, mistakes can and do occur, particularly where a person has manually input data into a system.  It is very easy to transpose figures (i.e. key in the correct figures but in the wrong order) or to omit or accidentally insert wrong data, etc.   When selecting data from computerised records, it is important to remember that the data may contain mistakes and so you should always be alert to anything that looks wrong or out of place.  For example, when a figure in a particular field normally consists of five digits, if it has five or six, then this should prompt further investigation to check that the figure is correct.  It may be, but it’s always worth checking.

Paper-based data

As previously mentioned, forms can have gaps, errors and may not be legible making it difficult to trust the data.  They may also have been completed sometime after the event they are recording which can add another level of doubt as to the accuracy of the information.  When selecting data from paper-based information, it is important to be alert to these possible problems and to take steps to investigate the data if there are gaps or queries.

Investigating the data may involve:

  • Talking to the person who produced the paper-based data to ask them to clarify any missing, incomplete or illegible information
  • Cross-referencing against any other similar data (e.g. The information in question may be used for another purpose in another database or system, so by checking that, you may be able to resolve your query)
  • Asking a colleague or supervisor for their interpretation of the data you are querying, etc.

Whichever method you use to investigate any queries in the data you are looking at, it is important that you don’t just overlook them as the form that you complete may have serious implications for you and your organisation.

Observations

Sometimes you will need to complete forms based on your own observations.

This may involve visual inspections and/or observations such as:

Vehicle condition

Quality of maintenance or servicing work

Driving conditions

Loading and unloading standards

Driver behaviour

Documentation control and management

Customer service standards

Quality standards, etc.

For example, you may conduct a vehicle inspection on a routine basis to ensure that it is safe and complies with the relevant regulations.  Usually, this would involve a checklist of key criteria to check which is completed at the time of the visual inspection.

When collecting data based on your own observations and inspections, it is important to:

Avoid distractions as they can lead to omissions and errors

Allow enough time to conduct the observation/inspection thoroughly

Allow enough time to complete the paperwork at the time or immediately following the observation/inspection

Obtain witness signatures, if appropriate

Follow your company’s procedures regarding collecting this data, etc.

Information from others

Collecting information from others is potentially unreliable as a lot depends on the quality of the questions asked and the quality of the information provided.  Add to that the potential for people’s memories of events to be unreliable or incomplete and you can see the scope for errors.

The types of information to be collected from others may include:

Witness statements following an accident, incident or near miss

Feedback about quality, service, reliability, etc.

Opinions about procedures, policies, problems to be solved, etc.

When collecting data from others, there are some steps you can take to improve its reliability and accuracy.

These steps include:

  • Be clear about the information you are asking for (i.e. Have very specific questions)
  • Ask more questions if the information you get is vague or ambiguous
  • Ask for the information when the other person can give you their undivided attention (i.e. When they are not in a rush or otherwise distracted)
  • Repeat the information back to the person to check that you have understood it correctly
  • Show them the information that you have recorded and ask them to check that it is correct (you may have to ask them to sign and date a form to confirm this)
  • Ask others for their information as soon as possible after the event or incident they are commenting on, etc.

These are all practical steps which will increase the accuracy and reliability of the data collected.  You may find that some of these steps are included in your company procedures for some forms.

Following company procedures

It is really important to following company procedures when completing work related forms.  As previously mentioned at the start of this guide, forms and documents are produced for a variety of reasons.

These reasons include:

  • To satisfy legal requirements
  • To comply with company policies and procedures
  • To enable decisions and actions to be recorded for later review and analysis
  • To enable the tracking of data (e.g. Performance data, fuel use, delivery schedules, etc.)
  • To enable the provision of information to customers
  • To provide information to aid decision making, etc.

Companies can sustain substantial fines for failing to satisfy legal requirements.  If there is an accident involving one of your company’s vehicles for instance, as part of the investigation, officials would look at historical data concerning the vehicle involved, the driver’s work and health record, along with any other relevant data.  If there are gaps or omissions in any of that data, or the data shows a failure to follow correct procedures, then the company is held responsible for this.  The usual penalty is a fine which also attracts negative publicity for the company.  In serious incidents, those individuals found to be responsible for any failures or negligence which contributed to an accident can look forward to jail terms.

This may sound frightening, but it is to emphasise the point that workplace forms and documents are important for a whole variety of reasons and so it is essential that they are completed correctly and in accordance with company procedures.

If you are unsure about your own company’s procedures, then there are some simple steps you can take to correct this.

These steps include:

  • Read the procedure (if you don’t know where to find it, ask to see it)
  • Ask your supervisor for training in the procedure
  • Ask your supervisor to explain or demonstrate the correct procedure
  • When following the procedure, ask a supervisor or other suitably qualified colleague to check that you are following it correctly
  • Take an interest in any audits of procedures which are relevant to your area of work (audits often highlight good practice and areas for improvement which may be useful to you), etc.

3.3 – Form/s is completed in accordance with workplace policy and procedures, and applicable regulations and codes

By the end of this chapter, the learner will be able to:

  • Identify the regulations and policies and procedures which are relevant to the form being completed
  • Recognise any equipment or materials which are required to be used in the completion of the form
  • Identify and avoid potential workplace hazards in the process of completing workplace forms.

Completing Forms

As previously mentioned, it is essential to comply with relevant policies, procedures, legislation and regulations when completing forms.

Applicable regulations and legislation may include:

Australian and international regulations and codes of practice for the handling and transport of dangerous goods and hazardous substances (where applicable)

Codes and regulations relevant to workplace documents/forms being prepared

Export/import/quarantine/bond requirements

Licence, patent or copyright arrangements

Marine orders

Relevant state/territory WHS/OHS and environmental protection legislation

Water and road use and licence arrangements

Workers’ compensation regulations

Workplace relations regulations.

It is very unlikely that all of these regulations would apply in your organisation, but it is important for you to be aware of which ones do apply to you.  For example, if you work in a human resources role, the workers’ compensation and workplace relations regulations will be very important in your job.  However, in a transport management role involving the transportation of hazardous substances, then you will also need to be aware of the relevant legislation and codes of practice.

If you are unsure as to which regulations and legislation apply to your role, you should seek guidance from your supervisor and/or review your company’s policies and procedures accordingly.

As a general rule, if you are putting your name to and signing an official company document, then it is your responsibility to ensure that you understand what you are signing and the implications of wrong or incomplete information.

Equipment and materials required

When completing some forms, it may be necessary to use particular equipment and materials in order to obtain the information needed.  For example, a vehicle inspection will require a thorough visual and practical inspection of the vehicle’s condition.  This should only be carried out by personnel who are adequately trained and qualified, and it should be carried out under the correct conditions and using the correct equipment.  This equipment may include technical tools such as a pressure gauge, as well as personal protective equipment.

Personal protective equipment may include (but is not limited to) items such as:

Overalls

Gloves

Safety glasses

Hard hat

High visibility clothing

Protective footwear

Breathing apparatus, etc.

It is essential when using equipment and materials to obtain information that you understand and comply with any precautions and instructions regarding their use.  For example, if you used badly-damaged safety glasses which obscured your view, this would hinder you being able to conduct a reliable inspection and so you should take appropriate action (which may involve disposing of those glasses and obtaining new ones).

Tragically, there is a true story where two engineers were instructed to inspect a faulty oven in a large-scale bakery.  The ovens had been in use when a fault developed.  The oven manufacturer’s instructions made it clear that the oven should be allowed to cool completely before any personnel could enter it to carry out any inspection or maintenance work.  Unfortunately, the bakery manager’s primary focus was to reduce equipment downtime and limit the effect on that day’s production.  As a result, he sent the two engineers into the oven before it had cooled down.  The door locked behind them and they couldn’t get out.  They died inside that oven.

If you are unsure about what precautions and instructions apply to the equipment and materials which you are using, it is your responsibility to ask for the necessary guidance and training before undertaking the task.  Your company should provide this training automatically, but as we know, mistakes can be made and training can be forgotten or rushed through.  If you feel that you don’t know enough about how to carry out the procedures you have been asked to, then you should speak up and ask for guidance to enable you to do so safely and effectively.

Hazards in the work area

Every workplace has its hazards.  We often tend to assume that industrial environments with heavy equipment and machinery are more dangerous than an office environment.  This is a complacent view and it’s important to recognise the potential hazards and how to avoid them regardless of the work are that you are in.

Hazards in the work area may include:

Exposure to chemicals

Exposure to dangerous or hazardous substances

Movements of equipment, goods, materials and vehicular traffic.

Again, it is your responsibility, if you have not been told about these hazards, to find out about them and to ask for the necessary training and guidance.

For chemicals and dangerous or hazardous substances it is likely that, as a minimum, you will have to:

Wear correct personal protective equipment when handling these substances

Follow company procedures regarding the handling and storage of these substances.

For the movement of equipment, good and materials it is likely that, as a minimum, you will have to:

Use correct lifting and handling techniques

Use the correct equipment for moving items

Wear correct personal protective equipment, etc.

For vehicular traffic it is likely that, as a minimum, you will have to:

Wear correct personal protective equipment whilst using vehicles

Wear correct personal protective equipment when working in an area where there is vehicular traffic

Use correct equipment to warn others of your presence (e.g. Flashing lights, temporary barriers and signage, etc.)

Follow company procedures regarding using vehicles and working in an area where vehicles are moving.

The message should be very clear:  when collecting data to complete workplace forms, it is essential to comply with company procedures and legislation and to work in a safe manner to protect yourself and others around you.