Integrating Safety in the Workplace ….without the overkill

Integrating Safety in the Workplace ….without the overkill

Many businesses operate what would be defined as high risk operations, e.g. construction, mining, metal fabrication, electricians and so on.

Yet many industries that do operate in high risk environments still treat safety as an adjunct to the business – a bolt on that sits on the side.

And here’s the other thing – when businesses treat safety as an add-on, then invariably there tends to be somewhat of an overkill in its implementation.

I think the cartoon above really exemplifies how many companies think of safety.

There is an ‘all or nothing’ mentality when it comes to embedding safety and wellbeing into the business.

Certainly, the prescribed regulations from relevant state and federal authorities perpetuate the thinking that more is better.

So, how do you go about implementing, embedding and integrating a relevant and appropriate safety and wellbeing culture?

Simply when safety and wellbeing (WHS), is treated as a core value and function of the business – along with sales. finance, production, logistics etc.

Why do safety systems fail in businesses?

Again, go back to the cartoon.

The notion that ‘we must get this right and do all we can to cover ourselves’ takes over management thinking, resulting in safety systems that are just not practical.

And as human beings go, when something becomes too difficult, cumbersome and unworkable, then the tendency will be to ‘go around it’.

When the primary objective of the management team is to simply comply with ALL the requirements in order to avoid any potential blame or litigation (in the event of a serious incident), then you have a dud safety system!

How do you implement & integrate a successful safety system?

As mentioned earlier, when safety and well being are on par with other business values and functions, then you have the basis of an effective WHS system.

The second part to this is to start with the end game in mind.

What is the purpose of a WHS system?

Quite simply, it is to ensure the health and wellbeing of your staff – knowing that they can go home to their families in a safe and healthy state.

If the end game is simply compliance and protecting the business from any negative consequences, then you will end up building a nanny state within the business which hinders more than it helps.

Simple steps to integrate WHS in your business

An integrated approach to implementing safety in your business includes;

  • Engaging 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.
  • Setting guidelines for expected behaviours – an effective health and safety system is not just a list of Dos and Don’ts 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.
  • Encouraging employees to take part in health and safety programs – this could also include safety around the home.
  • Leading 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.

So, make safety a part of your business and not an add-on to your business.

For a no obligation consultation, call Safety Services Australia on +61 2 9634 5912.