Elephant In The Room

An elephant in the room or just looking the other way?

Do you challenge unsafe behaviour, or do you look the other way – after all, it’s not your responsibility is it?

Well yes it is actually – we should all be challenging inaccurate and dangerous assumptions about safety and health at work, because if you walk past ‘the elephant’ you condone it. Have the courage to challenge from the ‘top down’ but more importantly, from the ‘bottom up’. Why is the latter more important? Because your operatives know what’s REALLY going on at shop-floor level, because they are the ones at the sharp end and don’t ignore the elephant in their room.

Safety culture is shaped by procedures and rules written down by your bosses, because your management team think they know all about safety, after all, they wrote the H&S Policy didn’t they? Management can become complacent simply because they have a Statement of Intent, some risk assessments, procedures and responsibilities etc. all written up in a big fat folder, glowing on their bookshelf in pride of place. But – is it properly communicated – is it ever updated – or is this just a ‘tick box’ exercise?

Your rapidly changing safety climate is the current mood of your workforce. If recent events include multiple accidents, serious near misses, unsafe behaviour, untrustworthy equipment or management not listening to serious concerns by the workforce, this will have a very negative effect on people. However, if you train your team well, upgrade your plant or safety equipment, listen to what is being said, this ‘feel good’ factor influences behaviour and the decision making process. A good, positive safety climate makes for good safety decisions.

So how can you find out what’s really happening and how can you improve YOUR climate? Take time out to make an unexpected site visits. Walk the talk. Offer training. Ask questions. Look at the accident/near miss records. Make observations. Have a coffee with the Supervisor. Take lunch in the warehouse café. LISTEN. Then you can give appropriate and timely feedback to management as necessary.

Stop ignoring the elephant and don’t chance it that everything is OK – make those important changes you know make sense.

www.chambersandyoung.com 07813 778435 info@chambersandyoung.com

Licensed IOSH safety and health training providers

IOSH Leading safely – IOSH Managing safely – IOSH Working safely

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