Promoting and nurturing a strong H&S culture isn’t rocket science, but as everything else; it requires time and resources.
‘How we do things around here’ can be a blessing or a curse. Either employees comply with health and safety (H&S), or they cut corners once in awhile.
Consider this: Carol from Human Resources need to pick up some new uniforms from the warehouse. H&S dictates: ‘When you enter the warehouse, you must wear safety shoes and a helmet’. Carol doesn’t work in the warehouse, and is simply going to be in and out of there in 5 minutes. She throws on the hat, but forgoes the shoes. Nothing is going to happen to Carol (probably), and none of the other guys from the office put on safety shoes – so why should she?
This is bad news. Normalisation of deviation (when it becomes commonly acceptable to cut corners), is a very sneaky fella and you need to catch it on the rise, preferably prevent it!
If you’re in doubt about the H&S culture in your company, then check out these warning signs, healthy indicators, and tips to boost your culture. Hopefully they can be your road map to a much healthier and safer workplace.
There are often some obvious warning signs if you need to up your H&S game. The fact that you’re reading this article can either mean that you’re doubting your H&S practices, or that you’re keen to make your work environment H&S best practice (in which case, good on you!). Here’s a few warning signs that suggest you might need to reconsider your current H&S strategy:
- There is a lack of commitment from the H&S board to purvey information, and collect feedback. In the ideal environment, there should always be a two way channel of communication.
- Employees aren’t aware of the current H&S legislation, nor who’s responsible for it.
- Senior management are left out of the game. This can suggest that H&S is not a priority, and this isn’t exactly encouraging for employees.
- Accidents are blamed on individuals. Blaming the individual can be lethal to a business. If you knew you’d get in big trouble, would you tell?
- Normalisation of deviation. If there’s a natural tendency to rationalise shortcuts then someone has failed at their job of creating a strong H&S culture.
There’ll often be a mix of healthy indicators and warning signals in a work environment, and that’s only normal. If you’ve ticked a few of the boxes above it only means that you’ve got some work to do. Here’s a few indicators that you’re doing a good job with your health and safety culture:
- Senior management are on the H&S board, and actively so!
- Employees are encouraged to report accidents and when there’s been a near miss through a range of different mediums.
- The CEO is good at communicating across levels of seniority and building trust.
- Whenever someone raises a concern or asks a question, appropriate action is always taken.
- Employees feel confident challenging deviation and encouraging best practise.
8 ways to boost your H&S culture
Don’t browse onto one of the awesome Sid and Hamish’s safety videos just yet. Here’s a list of things that you can do to boost your health and safety culture:
#1 As a manager or H&S responsible, you need to put safety first and mean it! It’s your job to make sure that employees are encouraged to speak up through a variety of channels. You can do management drop ins, a H&S anonymous letter box, a whiteboard where people can jot down any intel or feedback they may have.
#2 When an accident or a near miss has occurred; Make sure there’s an open dialogue about what went wrong, how, why, and how it can be fixed and prevented in the future. You’re not going to have any of those important pieces of information if people are afraid to admit they’ve made a mistake.
#3 To really boost your H&S culture; make sure that new employees are properly introduced to ‘How we do things around here’. Create a strong H&S induction programme and make sure it’s interesting!
#4 Normalisation of deviation can easily sneak up on you, and you need to be on your toes to prevent it. Remember that H&S legislation is there for a reason, and remind employees of the same.
#5 Make sure that everyone knows what H&S best practise is. You can do this by recognising safe behaviour. Throw some best practice mini case studies up on a health and safety/ announcement board for everyone to see.
#6 Your H&S board should be a mix of people from all levels of seniority, and from all parts of the business. The daily concerns of the chef, the HR graduate, the business development manager and your clerk are not, and will never be the same. The people on the floor can tell you better that anyone what’s going on and what the real problems are.
#7 Make sure that your H&S training and inductions are interesting. We’ve all sat through hours of dire first aid training led by someone who frankly seemed more dead than alive. Your training needs to be engaging and encouraging, otherwise your attendees aren’t going to remember it, and that leaves exactly you started. Only you’ve wasted money and time.
#8 Think about introducing toolbox talks. Toolbox talks are short informal discussions that focus on a specific safety issue of your choosing. If you add a toolbox talk to all of your team meetings, you can regularly brush up on best practice H&S and without boring anyone.
Start with these 8 tips to boost your culture, and you’ll be off to a great start! Health and safety practice is there to protect the individual employee, so make sure that happens.
About Safety Training Scotland
Since Safety Training Scotland was founded in 2013, it has delivered courses to over 2000 successful delegates. Training everyone from young people starting their careers to CEO’s, Safety Training Scotland has grown a well known reputation and large clientele in a short period of time. At Safety Training we’re passionate about changing the negative perception of health and safety training. Our highest priority is not just to inform, but also to engage and inspire. We are transforming the safety training industry and putting an end to ‘death by powerpoint’.