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Written by
on 17 July 2018

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Maintaining health and safety standards in the workplace is as much about culture as it is rules.

So how can your business foster a culture that places health and safety at the heart of everything you do?

Lead from the top

The culture of any organisation is set by senior management. A relentless focus on profits will create a business that is ruthless in its dealings with partners and competitors. Where social justice is a concern, the organisation will place ethics and responsibility at the core of their processes.

Likewise, if senior management shows a genuine commitment to the well-being of their employees, health and safety will be embedded in strategy and operations. To raise standards across the organisation, there must be a consistent message about safety that is modelled by everyone – starting with the CEO and the rest of the board.

Reporting mechanisms

The next step is to create a reporting system that allows employees to raise concerns quickly and easily. The simpler the process the more likely people are to report problems.

The cultural change means actively encouraging employees to identify problems and to make management aware as quickly as possible. To steal the old Wartime phrase, “See something, report it”.

You should also work towards creating a “blame-free” culture, where the focus is on fixing problems rather than finger-pointing. If people know they won’t be blamed for failings (at the point of report), they will be more likely to engage with efforts to improve health and safety.

Health and Safety training

The CSCS card is hugely useful for proving basic competence. The skills tested are relatively generic, however, so they do not deal with the specific details of your workplace and processes.

Your staff need regular health and safety training for several reasons. First, improving skills means that workers are better equipped to protect themselves and their colleagues.

Second, regular, high-quality training better equips employees for identifying potential dangers and improvements. It also ensures they know how to use your reporting process.

Third, training demonstrates the business’ commitment to the employee, a desire to see them kept safe and well while at work. This helps to create a culture of mutual trust and a shared vision – a safer workplace for everyone.

Get help

For an organisation with an established culture, change can be quite difficult to achieve. But that is not to say that you can avoid making improvements – especially if the current culture accepts accidents as a part of daily operations.

It may be that your organisation needs to look for independent advice on how to make the required changes. Which is where Veritas Consulting can help.

For more advice on creating a workable health and safety culture for your business, please get in touch.

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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