Creating a winning health and safety culture is key for 2022
Posted on 28th Feb, 2022 | By Lorretta Tatham
Safety has always been a top priority for the UK workforce, but plans and procedures have had to evolve rapidly – and drastically – over the course of the past two years. This past December, in the closing weeks of 2021, the British Health and Safety Executive published its latest set of statistics, covering work-related ill-health, non-fatal workplace injuries, and enforcement action.
Here are the key takeaways for 2020 / 2021:
Over 7 million workers were found to have suffered from a work-related illness
142 workers were killed at work
51,211 injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR.
Now, the widely held view is that RIDDOR presents an underestimation of the number of incidents, as many go unreported, often dealt with informally in-house. That means the actual number of incidents is likely to be much higher – and with the ongoing pandemic, safety has never been more important.
The UK has one of the best workplace safety records in Europe, and indeed the world, but it takes constant effort and re-examination to maintain that status. A lot of it is down to the establishment of an excellent health and safety culture in many workplaces. So as we move ever further into 2022, the question is – how do you ensure you maintain yours?
Involve employees directly
This is a really important one, yet for some reason there are still so many employers who don’t properly do it. Basically, a fairly universal truth is that it’s not enough for management to arbitrarily create a set of rules, and expect employees to stick to them. If the employees themselves aren’t on board with the changes, there’s a good chance they’ll simply get ignored whenever there isn’t a management rep on site. And to be honest, grudging acquiescence is probably not the atmosphere you want to foster!
Colleagues need to encourage each other on a grassroots level too, for maximum compliance and safety. To encourage each other, they need to see the point in these rules themselves – and the best way to ensure that happens is to get input from all levels of employees when they’re actually being made. (As a bonus, they may alert you to safety issues they’ve observed in the course of their duties that may have flown under the radar otherwise.
Lead by example
This one probably goes without saying, but it’s so important we’d be remiss not to mention it! Even if employees have been involved in setting the rules, everyone is less likely to follow them if they don’t think management are taking them seriously. There’s no starker demonstration of this than the sight of management clearly not following the rules themselves. (It’s an effect that we’re all well familiar with by now!)
Develop and implement a positive reporting process
We’ve already briefly covered the issue with reporting and RIDDOR – and it’s definitely something you don’t want happening on a smaller scale in your organisation. To avoid the possibilities of anything being swept under the rug – especially stuff you think you’d need to know about – it’s vital to develop and implement a positive reporting process.
Employees need to know that there are processes in place for them to voice their concerns, without worrying about being pushed back, silenced, or even being accused themselves (all of them sadly real concerns in a very small minority of businesses). If workers feel like they might be ignored or reprimanded for highlighting a danger, they’re less likely to speak up, and that could have grave consequences later on. In the best case scenario, unchecked safety issues could open you up to potential legal action, and in the worst case scenario, they could easily end up causing someone serious harm (possibly even fatally so).
On the flipside, implementing a positive reporting process, and making sure that they remain a priority for your company, constitute a firm demonstration of your commitment to creating a positive safety culture.
Provide in-depth training to the relevant people
Safety training is without question essential to the smooth running of your business. But it needs to extend to beyond more than just the everyday hazards people face doing their day-to-day job. They also need to know how to react in times of crisis too. Crucially, they need to know what to do in an emergency, and know it instinctively – rather than sprinting off to get someone else. In an emergency, those few seconds could make all the difference to the risk of serious injury – or even death.
Basically, it helps workers to keep each other safe. And when it comes right down to it, that’s what it’s all about – everyone working to keep each other safe.
Training is exactly what we can help with here at Browns Safety. Our experts offer a range of services training courses on working at height, access equipment, and abrasive wheels. You can book your own place on each of the pages listed above, or contact us directly by calling 01282 615517 or emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org.