How committed are you?

Work Health & Safety Risk Management – how committed are you?

Work health and safety risk management systems are an essential part of any business.

And as the business grows in size, with more employees, suppliers, customers etc, these health and safety systems become even more critical to the business.

If work health and safety risk managements are so significant and important, then why is it so that so few companies have effective systems in place or even, why is it that a vast number of companies just don’t have one?

It’s complicated to develop?

This is not really the case.

Yes, anything worthwhile doing takes time, effort and dedication – yet, an effective health and risk management system need not be overly complex.

There’s been much written on what is a health & safety risk management system, what elements make up the system and how to develop one.

Given the openly available number of resources, not knowing or ignorance is no longer a reason.

So, what’s the problem then?

In one short answer – commitment – or more specifically, lack of it.

This commitment, by the way, sits with the owner/management of the business.

A hallmark of a great business is its culture.  These are the norms, values and behaviours that the company lives by and demonstrates to each other in the business and to the outside world.

In the same way, developing and promoting a safety culture goes a long way to ensure the effectiveness of any health and safety management system.

The safety culture

To give health and safety a higher priority within the business, managers must change their focus from problem solving (i.e. simply trying to avoid accidents/incidents) and more towards proactive behaviour (i.e. taking ownership, demonstrating through behaviours and promoting) – proactive behaviour = commitment.

By doing so, the business moves to providing a safe and healthy workplace that goes beyond the legal requirements of work health and safety risk management.

This holistic view and promotion of health and safety is the basis of developing a safety culture within the business.

Developing a safety culture

Developing a lasting and engaging safety culture will take time and effort on management’s part.  Merely developing and implementing a health and safety system then expecting all to comply with it will not work.

Some simple steps to start instilling a safety culture within the workplace include:

  • Engage the employees from the start in the development of the health and safety system – your employees know what works and what doesn’t – their buy-in from the start will be critical to the system’s long-term success.
  • Set the guidelines for expected behaviours – an effective health and safety system is not just a list of Dos and Don’t or a set of rules to be blindly followed – be clear on how employees are to perform their tasks, what do they need to do to ensure their own safety and then reward them when these behaviours are observed.
  • Encourage employees to take part in health and safety programs – this could also include safety around the home.
  • Lead by example – while this is overly obvious, many managers simply don’t do it. Leading by example involves;
    • Walk around, observe, continue to remind and reward when you see the expected behaviours in action.
    • Check-in with employees to verify if current procedures are still relevant.
    • Share your observations with the business
  • Find safety ‘advocates’ within the business – enlist them in a positive way to be your voice in the work place.

Let’s move away from beating up the employees for not complying or following rules – if this happens, management must take ownership, accountability and responsibility for the lack of engagement.

My challenge to you – commit you and your management team to embed a safety culture within your business – if you do this successfully, then the health and safety of your employees may just one less thing that keeps you awake at night.

For a no obligation consultation, call Safety Services Australia on 02 9634 5912.