In the health and safety industry, we sometimes get so focused on hammering our point home that we forget to acknowledge the good stuff.
Although we have a long way to go in the UK to ensure a truly safe working environment for everyone, many businesses across the country have truly dedicated themselves to building a positive culture of health and safety and are reaping the rewards.
This blog will take an in-depth look at what good health and safety looks like and what you can do to achieve it.
Not just doom and gloom
Health and safety professionals have a lot of responsibility to ensure the safety of others, which goes some way to explaining why we get quite passionate when we talk about health and safety.
But there’s a lot of good news in the health and safety industry. For example, the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards highlight fantastic and notable efforts by companies and health and safety professionals going above and beyond to protect employees.
These awards are not just great press but also a fantastic way of benchmarking safety achievements, improving team morale, and winning new tenders and clients. Britsafe and the SHP run similar awards schemes highlighting health and safety success in all areas.
What does good health and safety look like?
Fundamentally, health and safety encompass how businesses, employers, building owners and more can keep those in their care safe.
This can mean regularly carrying out risk assessments, communicating those risk assessments with workers clearly, and investing in the right training and equipment to help them carry out their job safely.
A pet peeve of mine is the hijacking of health and safety to excuse all manner of bad management, lack of training, and laziness. Health and safety isn’t some nebulous label you can whack on anything you like to keep customers out, but a set of (mostly) very clear, sensible guidelines that require duty holders to invest in relevant safety measures.
Britsafe’s ‘What Does Good Health and Safety Look Like?’ guidance highlights a few areas that an organisation dedicated to health and safety will excel.
People are aware of any significant risks.
Communication is a crucial part of health and safety, and a business dedicated to health and safety will boast employees who are well aware of dangers. As well as this, everyone will be clear about who is responsible for what and understand the specific consequences of not following guidelines.
Leaders visibly promote health and safety and involve people
A truly effective culture of health and safety comes from the top. Leaders will be engaged with safety briefings, updates, and campaigns, showing genuine interest beyond their legal obligations, and encouraging others to get involved.
Some managers have extra risk management skills
One of the most important safety rules for businesses is the requirement for a ‘competent person’, essentially, someone with the skills and training to oversee activities and help and advise where needed.
A company dedicated to its health and safety will have more than one competent person and invest in managers and supervisors to ensure they’re all equipped to manage risk.
Mostly, good health and safety comes down to a few key things:
- Communication: Everyone should be in the loop and communicate problems when they arise to find a solution. People should feel comfortable highlighting gaps in safety processes because there is no blame culture.
- Preparation: Time should be taken before the job starts to properly assess the situation, identify risks, and communicate them via a detailed but straightforward risk assessment.
- Commitment to training and coaching: Health and safety training should go beyond box ticking exercises and be engaging. Employees should receive basic training, ongoing bespoke support, relevant coaching, and achievable goals that encourage safe behaviour.
- Peoplework, not paperwork: The people involved are the riskiest part of any health and safety system. People are unpredictable and mercurial and will often justify anything if it means getting the job done quicker. Overcoming this requires risk managers to view people not as statistics but as individual human beings with different triggers, needs, and wants and customise health and safety communications to them wherever possible.
- Teamwork: Everyone in the company should understand that processes are in place to protect them and those around them, not to make work more complicated. When everyone has a reason to care and the skills they need to stay safe, commitment is far more likely.
A neverending story
Encouraging genuinely effective health and safety requires businesses to move from the standard ‘man with a clipboard’, online training quota-based education style of static risk management to a more inclusive, ongoing strategy.
Safety should not be the responsibility of one person. Still, a subconscious thing everyone implements into their day-to-day reassured that it’s not a pointless exercise in box-ticking but a well-thought-out system of reasonable measures designed to keep them and their colleagues safe.
The first step in building a comprehensive, beneficial culture of safety is identifying where you’re going wrong and right with the help of a safety risk management expert. Do you want to discuss your safety needs and step towards a safer future? Get in touch today, and let’s chat.