The traditional `policing’ role of the Health and safety adviser has changed. No longer a mere safety officer, the safety adviser role is now that of a high-level internal consultant.
Modern day Health and Safety
Employers expect them offer independent advice to senior management on the development of the organisation’s safety policies and their short, medium and long term strategic objectives for creating and maintaining a positive safety culture within their organisation.
In addition, they are expected to advise Directors, line-managers on both the development and implementation of appropriate control and monitoring systems and the review of ongoing safety performance, while at the same time conducting independent reviews of the whole safety management system.
To fulfil these functions in an effective manner, it is self evident that Health and safety advisers must be authoritative all rounders. While possessing an awareness of all aspects of safety per se, he or she will also need to:
• have an up-to-date and in-depth appreciation of all aspects of management and
• be experienced in problem-solving and decision-making
• be highly aware of the effects organisational change and development issues (e.g. project management, team-working, downsizing, contracting out, etc.) exert on safety.
Only when Health and Safety Advisers are armed with all this knowledge will safety advisers be in a position to recognise the need for change, and be able to positively influence unfolding events to help create an optimal safety culture throughout the organisation.
Thus, because of their new consulting role, and the need to ensure that their recommendations accord with business needs, modern Health and Safety advisers must be as familiar with all aspects of management as those advisers from other disciplines (such as finance, human resources, production, etc.) who comprise the senior management team.
Although the safety profession is making great strides to address these issues, it is still too often the case that many Health and safety advisers lack knowledge of the most basic management tools and techniques and, therefore, lack an understanding of how they might be used to good effect.