Once upon a time, whenever the topic of work health & safety (H&S) was raised at a business meeting, senior-level executives would first and foremost be concerned about a) cost and b) productivity, with little regard for how it actually affected workers.
Thankfully, as the years have gone by, health & safety are now at the forefront of all important business decisions, with worker wellbeing (particularly in the face of Covid-19) often being seen as the top priority, saving lives and limiting downtime in the process. This change isn’t limited to only high-risk workplaces either, and has become implemented across many industries, from hospitals to construction sites to corporate offices.
All businesses should strive for health & safety excellence, and ensuring this is possible starts with developing a solid H&S program. Of course, having a plan in place is only part of the battle, and it’s not good enough to simply just have one. It also needs to be followed, maintained and evolve as new threats and risk factors are discovered. If nobody puts the plan into action, your workplace has only been made safer on paper, which doesn’t help anyone.
So, how do you ensure your H&S program is successful? Let’s take a look.
As we’ve said, planning is only one factor in having a strong workplace safety program. It will help protect your company and employees, but it has its limits. Even companies with strict H&S programs and procedures suffer incidents. A good program should be a living and evolving thing, and needs to undergo regular assessment and update to incorporate previously unknown risks or new and safer procedures.
The program should be regarded as a minimum requirement rather than an absolute solution, and workers and management alike should be encouraged to take proactive initiative-based action when they perceive a threat to safety.
The culture of a company is often set by the voice and actions of the management team. Employees at all levels will take notice of their attitude to company policy. An effective plan should have a strong commitment from the top down. If company executives and senior managers are seen and heard actively supporting the program, it’s more likely to succeed.
But, in order to make the program successful, everybody at the company should be on the same page about why the program is in place and what benefits it offers.
It can be easy for a good H&S program to be brushed aside as appearing to be more red tape that’s only there to cover legal liabilities, so it’s important for workers to understand the program and why it benefits them, and not just the business.
The exact same goes for management. If the management team perceives the program as a cost-inducing inconvenience, then it’s likely that philosophy will trickle down to the people most at risk.
Educating the workforce at all levels on why the program is beneficial to everyone will help encourage adoption. The benefits don’t need to be limited to the obvious life-saving ones either. A good H&S program will also:
- Save time
- Save money
- Keep workers from being injured
- Make workers happier because they know they’re being looked after (with the additional bonus of increased productivity!)
- Improve public reputation (and the likelihood of landing more work!)
So, how do you implement these steps?
A program is only as good as the people implementing it. With an advanced contractor risk management system, like Conserve, you can ensure that all your workers, whether in-house or contracted, understand safe work practices. Prequalifying and inducting your contractors through our system will enable you to work with the confidence that every employee has the requisite skills, experience and knowledge to follow your company’s health and safety program. We call this a win!