Do you have the courage to sit down with your team and ask this question?
Shifting to the positive
If the answer is yes, then you are well on the way to encouraging that ‘feel good’ factor within your team and ensuring that your safety climate has a good positive feel about it. Once everyone can openly discuss their errors, near misses or accidents without fear of retribution, then you can all concentrate on what went right. Shifting the goalposts away from negatives and towards positives is just another way of shaping people’s safety behaviour – surely a constructive move.
The other questions you need to ask – and this might take some courage on your part – is to your Senior Management team. When did they actually take the time to visit the ‘coalface’? When did they last go on the shop-floor and speak to operatives about the various hazards and risks encountered on a daily basis? In other words – when did they last ‘Manage by Walking Around’?
Safety culture and safety climate
If the safety culture in any business is to improve, it has to feed down from the top BUT, must also feed up from the bottom. This is where you get the real improvements in your safety climate (the way things are done around here).
There has been much discussion on the ‘zero tolerance’ in regard to work based accidents. Although this seems like a good objective, it is, in realty, an invitation for underreporting and people turning a blind eye to near misses. If the accident didn’t materialise, then why say anything? Of course this can have disastrous effects next time when the accident does occur.
In reality, we should be moving away from the obsession with number crunching as the only way – stats to the Board – numerical targets etc. (which is all reactive monitoring) and start being more proactive by celebrating the good things (more of the right, less of the wrong) and encouraging open discussion with all of our workforce.
People are not the problem – they are the solution (John Green, HSE Director, Laing O’Rouke)
Communication is key and so is the right training. Toolbox talks should not be a ‘box ticking’ exercise with operatives being made to stand and listen to someone bleating on about paperwork, rules and regulations, but seen as an opportunity for open discussion, to build on relationships, to question and to share best practice. The right level of training is vital – from the shop floor operative and their tool box talks, including IOSH Working safely, to Junior and Middle Management with IOSH Managing safely, continuing with Senior Executives, Directors, Managing Directors and CEOs, in the form of structured, discussion based training with IOSH Leading safely. So – do you have the courage to ask ‘what did I do wrong today’?
IOSH health and safety training – Chambers & Young Ltd. www.chambersandyoung.com 078136 778435