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Written by
on 17 July 2019

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Safe working practices don’t just happen – they are the result of hard work and determination by everyone in your organisation. Making the workplace safer benefits everyone – from those most likely to be injured, to senior management who have to count the cost of lost productivity when employees are incapacitated.

So how do you build health and safety into your corporate DNA?

1. Secure management buy-in

Organisational change begins at the top – after all, it is management who set corporate goals and who enact cultural change. Which means it is senior management who must publicly commit to raising standards across the business as a whole.

As well as an initial internal announcement stating these new goals, managers will need to frequently re-state their commitment to improved health and safety. They will also need to demonstrate best-practice principles at every opportunity so that everyone in the business can see them “practising what they preach”.

2. Set goals and rewards

To ensure these commitments are more than empty sentiments, management will also need to set goals and targets. This may be as basic as a general “x number of days” without incident on-site, or even attempting to reduce “near misses”.

Where appropriate, you should also consider offering rewards as an incentive for workers to try and reach these targets. These benefits do not have to be purely financial either; consider inviting employees to submit their own suggestions, giving them an opportunity to own a stake in the program too.

3. Make health and safety an integral part of all training

Every time an employee receives training, be sure that the health and safety aspects are emphasised. By doing so workers will understand that you are just as interested in their welfare as their skill levels – and that health and safety really is a priority for your business.

This goes beyond induction training too – remember every course needs to consider health and safety. Even toolbox talks should contain an element of working more safely.

This is a word of warning

As well as prioritising health and safety, your business also needs to recognise the importance of honesty. Where goals and targets are set, your employees must feel they can be open about failures – otherwise, they may be tempted to falsify records, or to simply not report incidents.

This secretive culture is a disaster for any business, leading to employees taking more risks and being involved in more accidents as they prioritise statistics over safety. Instead workers must be able to report any incident or problem without fears of recrimination – otherwise, health and safety will never be part of your corporate DNA.

To learn more about building a health and safety culture within your organisation, and how you will benefit in the long term, please give us a call.

Chartered health and safety consultant. David provides how-to articles, advice and guidance to make compliance easier for construction professionals, Architects and the built environment. When he is not helping clients, David enjoys being a husband, dad, keeping fit, and prefers drinking wine to beer. Known to be good with compliance and a corkscrew. You can get in touch on social media Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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