Previous articles in this series have described the unbalanced and often nonsensical approach that some people and businesses take towards health and safety at work. They have explained that the sensible approach to health and safety management should be no different to any other aspect of business and based on plan, do, check, act. We continue the series by considering the leadership and management style that promotes an outstanding health and safety performance.
The effective management of health and safety at work doesn’t just happen. It, like the effective management of any other business function, is the result of leadership, leading by example, and a clear demonstration of commitment. Results and outcomes reflect the level of detail and the effort put into the management of an activity.
Ineffective leadership can be seen in businesses where there are no priorities set for health and safety, where managers do not use protective equipment or follow safety procedures, where there is no engagement with the workforce and there is history of accidents and incidents. Typically these businesses will be routinely in breach of legal requirements, employees will not understand their roles, information will be misunderstood, employees’ protests will be ignored and lessons will never be learnt.
In complete contrast an effective health and safety management system will be characterised by Senior Managers and leaders who-
- Keep their focus on the significant risks and the implementation of adequate controls;
- Demonstrate their commitment by their actions;
- Show that they are aware of the key health and safety issues;
- Consult with their workforce on health and safety issues; and
- Challenge unsafe behaviour when it occurs rather than in hindsight.
- A systematic approach to the managing of health and safety;
- A clear understanding and appreciation by the workforce of the risks and control measures associated with their work;
- Appropriate documentation which is current, relevant and organised;
- Personnel who understand their roles and those of others;
- Performance measurement to check that controls are working and standards are being maintained; and
- An indication that the business learns from mistakes when things go wrong.
- A formal health and safety management such as ISO 9001 or BS OHSAS 18001 which is externally accredited and monitored;
- The integration of health and safety into business processes;
- Benchmarking to compare performance with others;
- The involvement of the supply chain in plans to improve health and safety performance;
- A ‘well-being’ plan to support their workforce.
Peninsula’s BusinessSafe service will provide the structure and outline of an effective health and safety management system but it will require effective leadership and management to make it effective.
Next time - Managing health and safety with competence