19th January, 2022

10 Essential Principles Of Good Health And Safety Management

Need to improve your health and safety management? Want to create a more positive health and safety culture? You can, and what's more, it doesn't have to be costly. Start with these ten essential principles for your health and safety management system.

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Is health and safety sometimes an afterthought in your work? Do you constantly need to remind your team of the site safety rules? Or maybe it just always feels like a struggle or a chore.

Health and safety shouldn't feel like an add on. For a truly positive health and safety culture at work, health and safety will work with you, not against you. It will make your team more productive. It will make your job easier. And it will save you money!

Like with any investment, it takes a bit of effort in the short term to see long term results. It does need everyone's involvement. But it doesn't have to be costly. And the time and commitment made will be well worth it as you create a safer (and happier) workplace.

If you follow these ten essential principles, from management actions down to worker engagement, your health and safety standards will rise as fast as your accident rates fall.

Many organisations struggle to achieve a positive safety culture at all levels. Good health and safety management means more than just documentation and form filling. Completing risk assessments is a good start, and legally required, but that should only be part of the process.

Effective management of health and safety requires good leadership, workforce involvement, and regular assessment and review.

Your health and safety management systems and practices should ensure that risks are dealt with sensibly, proportionately and responsibly. Start with these ten essential principles for your health and safety management system, underpinning a positive health and safety culture.

Strong leadership from the top of the organisation

Having the right management team in place to deliver your health and safety message is key to:

manager meeting

1. Visible and active commitment to health and safety from director level

Teams will often adopt a common mindset. As a leader, what is important to you will become important to your team. Health and safety leadership is more effective when visible.

Reinforce the message at every opportunity and demonstrate management commitment to safety. This means practising what you preach. If you want your team to use safety equipment, make sure you do. If workers must attend safety briefings, you should take or be present at them too.

Lead from the top and by example. After all, if your directors don't take health and safety seriously, no one will.

2. Effective management structure

Like with any part of your business, you need to have the right team for the job. Who can be your safety champions? Consider health and safety responsibilities, attitudes and capabilities when deciding on your management team.

You need health and safety procedures to be enforced and communicated. Pick the people that will best deliver that message. These are your health and safety leaders, showing others the way.

3. Clear downward communication systems

Communication goes both ways, but before you can get feedback the initial safety message must be delivered.

Make sure the health and safety message does not get lost on its way to your employees. Discussing health and safety in management meetings is great, it certainly should be on the agenda. But these decisions, outcomes, results and progress reports need to be communicated - get everyone on the same page.

4. Integration of health and safety management with business decisions

Health and safety must be a key consideration in business decisions to allow your health and safety management system to have any sustainable or substantial impact. Do not set and forget. Don't let your health and safety systems get stale and outdated.

When you purchase new equipment, take on trainees, or change a layout - give health and safety a thought. How will this change impact peoples safety? Could it damage workers health? What controls are needed to reduce the risks?

Workforce involvement

Good health and safety management involves every member of your team. Not just your leadership team. You can't manage risks without worker engagement. And you can't create a health and safety culture without everyone's participation.

Making the health and safety of your team a priority shows them that you care. You want your workers to be safe. You care about their health. And chances are, they care about that too.

worker in ppe

5. Worker involvement in resolving safety challenges

Your workers carry out the processes and face the risks you are trying to control. They know the tasks they carry out better than anyone. This hands-on knowledge can be used to your advantage (and theirs!).

Your team can help identify hazards or failures in current controls, and they can often come up with different solutions.

6. Worker engagement in the achievement of health and safety targets

When people have more control over their work, it can improve happiness. And then people help set the rules, they are less likely to break them.

allow and encourage staff to participate in decision-making, especially where it affects them, eg those about the way they work;

Workforce involvement above your legal consultation duties helps improve participation and safety achievements. Don't just give workers the what (in what needs to be done), but also explain why. Understanding the reason or importance of a safety rule or procedure helps to gain commitment and compliance.

7. Clear upward communication to management level

We've had downward communication from management, but let's remember that communication is a two-way street. Make sure that health and safety issues can be raised to the people that can take action to resolve them.

If you have a near miss, feedback or another reporting system in place, make sure action is taken where necessary in response. This encourages further reporting and an ongoing process of improvements because your team will only show the same commitment to a system that you do.

Assessment and review

You have excellent leadership. Your team is on board. Now you have the structure to assess the risks in your workplace and tackle them. Health and safety management is an ongoing process. Once you have a system in place, continue to nurture it so that it can blossom.

green light

8. Identification and management of safety risks

You need to identify risks before you can manage them. What are the hazards? How could they harm people? How can you stop them?

All work planned should be 'risk assessed' so that hazards are identified and risks controlled. As we mentioned earlier, risk assessment is a legal requirement. It also goes without saying that it is a vital element of good health and safety management.

Need help creating risk assessments? We have hundreds of pre-completed risk assessment templates for you to choose from - or start with the free blank risk assessment template.

9. Accessing and following competent advice

There are times when you might come up against an unusual hazard or challenge, especially as technology changes and new materials or equipment get introduced. Obtain specialist advice for areas you are unsure about or take additional training to get the knowledge you need.

Always make sure your workforce has access to the information they need to carry out work safely.

10. Regular monitoring, reporting and reviewing of performance

We live, and we learn. Or should that be, we work, and we learn. You might not get things 100% right all the time, but we can learn how to do things better the next time.

Your health and safety management system will let you know if things are going wrong. If people are off sick, if near-misses happen, or people aren't wearing the right equipment. These are all signs that something might be going wrong. But you can act on these signs before an accident happens.

Record monitor and assess both preventative information (training, initiatives, targets) and incident data (accidents, sickness, near-miss), so that you can continuously improve your health and safety management.

These ten essential principles of good health and safety management will help you address the fundamental areas of safety management, giving you the foundations for safety success.

For all the forms, documents, checklists and reports your business needs, browse hundreds of health and safety templates in our library.

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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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