How to improve health & safety in your organisation
Trackplot Director, Emma Thomas, recently attended a webinar "What's your health and safety focus?" hosted by Health & Safety Matters and supported by SHE Health & Safety Software, which discussed the results of a recent survey providing insights into health and safety priorities for UK workplaces in 2021.
The webinar, hosted by Health & Safety Matters and supported by SHE Health & Safety Software covered a number of topics including what is working well in health & safety, what issues businesses currently find most challenging, to best practices to drive engagement.
The survey highlighted that compliance is the health & safety area which is most successful for companies, followed by employee engagement then leadership buy-in. The question raised was should compliance be top of the chart as it does not necessarily mean that health & safety is being implemented properly.
What is working less well is health & safety professionals having to much to do, employee engagement and that they don’t know what they don’t know. Regarding the latter issue this is typically because health & safety professionals sidestep into the profession from other disciplines such as HR or operations and often learn on the job.
Influence leadership behaviour and mindset
Establishing your organisation’s rating on the Health and Safety Maturity Index was highlighted as an excellent first step to inform what your health & safety priorities should be. The Index spectrum ranged from Negligence, Reactive, Compliant to Proactive and finally Excellent. Key indicators to help you determine your rating include how important health & safety truly is to your leadership team, how you approach risk management and the level of employee engagement across your organisation. Leadership engagement improves health & safety directly and will push your organisation up the maturity index scale. So how do you get leadership buy-in? Profitability is at the heart of any organisation so consider how health & safety can affect profitability – negatively and positively. It is proven that better health & safety brings better employee engagement, which improves productivity and costs and in turn improves staff retention.
Achieving leadership buy-in enables further initiatives to be embedded such as including health & safety metrics in your leadership’s business dashboard of KPIs, proactive hazard reporting to prevent accidents and to improve health & safely processes by keeping things simple (otherwise people will avoid doing them).
Improve your risk mitigation
The simplest way to improve your risk management is to get more people involved in preparing risk assessments. From the outset actively involve the workers who are performing the activities you are assessing as they have the best insight into the process. Ask your employees “What if something goes wrong?” to start a discussion on how to respond to incidents and more importantly how to avoid them in the first place.
The process becomes self fulfilling. By being actively involved in the creation of risk assessments your workers are more likely to follow them. This employee engagement improves health & safety which in turn enables yet further improvement.
Initiate hazard reporting
And finally, what action can make a tangible difference? Hazard reporting. A simple action which has dramatic results. Rather than being reactionary and only reporting incidents and near misses, focus on activities that prevent incidents from happening. Consider how you can create a culture where people take ownership, are proactive and report hazards to prevent accidents in the first place. Be prepared for a spike in reporting of incidents, near misses and hazards and use this data to drive further improvements.