Building a strong health and safety culture and maintaining it, isn’t rocket science, but it does take a lot of time and resources.
Things often come down to ‘how we do things around here’. Find out how to manage that, and you’re off to a flying start.
After having been in the health and safety industry for many years, we’ve come across some brilliant work environments and some directly dangerous ones. We’ve gathered our top tips on creating a culture that supports and further builds a strong health and safety culture.
Let’s get started. If you’ve got any questions feel free to comment on this post, or get in touch, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
#1 Put safety first, and mean it
The only way you’re going to build a strong culture around health and safety is if your employees know that you mean business. You’ve got to put safety first, and you’ve got to mean it.
#2 Encourage two- way communication
As a manager, it’s your job to make sure that channels for feedback are open, and that you take every concern seriously.
Do one to one catch ups with employees, host drop ins, start an anonymous letterbox, or hang up whiteboards for comments.
To build any strong culture, there needs to ways of communicating across levels of seniority. And for employees to actually speak up, there needs to be trust.
#3 Don’t blame employees
A crucial factor in a transparent company where employees are valued and put first, is trust.
You can’t have a brilliant health and safety culture and play the blame game at the same time. Unless of course an employee has severely breached regulations and done so knowingly at which point he/ she should probably be disciplined or given an oral warning.
To be able to improve the work environment in your organisation, you need to know exactly what went wrong in order to prepare and prevent it in the future.
If you’re employees are keeping quiet about near misses and smaller accidents, then you’re no further than before and you can not improve the working conditions.
#4 Start every new employee off with a good induction
When an employee starts a new job, they’re not only super keen to adapt and learn what life in their new office is like – there’s also a unique window of opportunity to catch them before they develop annoying habits.
Make sure they start their job with a solid induction, so they know what’s good and bad practise.
#5 Personal protective equipment is for everyone
If employers spend a significant amount of hours in their personal protective equipment, you really need to make sure that it fits and sits appropriately.
Bring people in from different positions to go over what kind of PPE is needed, talk about what they want Vs. what’s reasonable.
#6 Introduce tool box talks
A toolbox talk is a super short and casual catch up on a very specific topic (related to health and safety). Brush up on H&S with your team regularly and make sure everyone is up to speed and know their basic health and safety.
Sending whole teams away for health and safety training is expensive and time consuming. Send a few guys away and keep the rest of the team posted with weekly or daily toolbox talk depending on what industry you’re in and how many health and safety concerns you’ve got.
#7 Get a Health and Safety notice board
If you’ve got a canteen or a kitchen, then pop up a health and safety notice board. Use the board for examples of good practise, news, manual handling techniques, and whatever else you think should be on there.
#8 Consistency is key
Consistency is key when it comes to health and safety. Let Sharon get away with walking across the factory without safety shoes and all of a sudden you’ll have a small army of rule- breaking employees.
Not because they’re actively not wanting to follow your rules but because of the slow but steady normalisation of deviation. The ‘If one person does it, then I can do it too’ attitude. And so it spreads.
About Safety Training Scotland
Safety Training Scotland was founded in 2013 and has since delivered IOSH health and safety courses to over 2000 successful delegates. From training young people just starting out their career to senior level staff, we’re passionate about hanging the negative perception of health and safety training. At Safety Training Scotland, we see it our finest mission to put an end to ‘death by powerpoint’ and make H&S training interesting and engaging.