5th May, 2020
As the saying goes, health and safety doesn't happen by accident. And it's true. Planning is important in every area of business. Do you have health and safety goals? What about protecting your team? Preventing harm? Reducing accidents? Keeping people safe? Keeping them healthy?
As the saying goes, health and safety doesn't happen by accident. And it's true. Planning is important in every area of business. Do you want to get a project finished? You set goals, allocate resources and plan the work. You need the product to be of high quality? You purchase good materials, you train your team, you check, and you test. Health and safety is no different. It's another area of business that needs to be planned for, put into action, and developed.
Do you have health and safety goals? What about protecting your team? Preventing harm? Reducing accidents? Keeping people safe? Keeping them healthy?
By planning for health and safety, you can take better control of the hazards and risks in your workplace. Not as an afterthought, or a tick in a box. But as part of your overall business strategy. And by having a clear and carefully considered plan, you can achieve your goals. Protecting your team and your business.
Health and safety isn't just something that's required by law. Let's pretend for a moment that there are no health and safety regulations. You are free from all the 'red tape' and there's no risk of inspections or prosecutions if things go wrong. Would it make business sense to forget about keeping your team safe? Stop protecting them from harm? Of course not!
Good health and safety can save you money. And no business wants to lose money. If you harm someone, they can't work. You need to replace them. Train someone else up. And if they get hurt, you have to do it again. Soon productivity drops, work falls behind schedule, and customers go elsewhere.
So it's time to stop thinking that health and safety is something that we are forced to do. Something that the law tells us to do. And start seeing it as a way to protect your team, and protect your business. This simple change in mindset can help you plan for better health and safety in the same way you plan for improving quality, or meeting deadlines.
Your health and safety plan should go beyond paperwork. Risk assessments are a legal requirement. Your health and safety policy needs reviewing. Yes, you must have these documents in the plan, but they are not the plan.
The plan is about more than just documents. How are those documents developed? Who's involved? When are they communicated to your team? How do you know if the documented systems are working? What are the feedback channels? What else needs to be done?
Health and safety is part of everything you do, like it or not. And if you don't like it, then bad health and safety is probably going to be part of everything you do. Because, if you ignore health and safety, the risks don't just go away. The hazards are still there.
Make 'safety always' part of your mantra. And part of your plan. This means putting health and safety awareness into your daily activities. Not just a monthly management meeting, or a once a year review.
Your health and safety plan should involve all levels of the business. Management needs to lead by example. It shouldn't be the case that management create the rules and the team follows the rules. More a case of everyone creates the rules and everyone follows them.
Leaders can lead the way, but gathering feedback from working with your team can be the difference between a good plan, and a great one.
Many health and safety plans can just focus on outputs. Document records, training certificates, and result records. But also plan for your inputs. Feedback, questions, ideas, suggestions. These inputs can have a big impact on the quality of your output.
For example, you are risk assessing an activity, and get feedback from the team that is carrying out the work. They provide some ideas and suggestions for how the work can be better controlled. Some of the suggestions can be put in place immediately, while others can be planned for the future. The more you input, the better your outputs.
Health and safety shouldn't just be a topic at board meetings. It should be part of every meeting. And every conversation that involves a change to a deadline, work process, or instruction. How will this change affect safety? Have any additional hazards been introduced? Does this impact the risk level? Is it safe?
Health and safety doesn't have to be boring. Is paperwork not your thing? What about a presentation? Or a video? Or a game? Or role play? Or a practical example? Is the classroom not your favourite setting? What about training on-the-job? Or a team building safety exercise? Or online learning?
So when your planning for better health and safety at work, think about all the different ways you can create health and safety moments. You don't have to do things the way they have always been done. You can try something new. The more you mix things up, the more interesting it will be for you and your team.
The best way to retain information is to put it into practice. That applies to most skills. Practice makes perfect after all. So rather than trying to cover everything at once, plan for regular health and safety sessions. Relevant to what is happening that day or week.
There's a time and a place for training days in your plan, but as your regular weekly or daily routine, give a short safety briefing or toolbox talk. Scheduling regular safety talks help to get everyone involved in the health and safety process. Keep it relevant to the work being carried out so it can be put into practice.
Find out more about the legal health and safety responsibilities of employers.
This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.
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