Why it’s time to take an active approach to work safety
Now, more than ever, there’s mounting pressure on organisations of all kinds to take an active approach to managing their health and safety duties. It is certainly no longer possible for any business to ‘wing it’ or to ‘do it later’ when it comes to the safety of their people.
The global pandemic we are now living with won’t allow it.
For us, in the occupational health and safety (OHS, or also known as WHS) sector, we’re pleased to see the increased effort and focus businesses are taking when it comes to the health, safety and wellbeing of their workforce.
This is the kind of attention that we think protecting people from harm whilst they are at work has always deserved.
The safety manager’s burden
Yet for the office managers, team leaders, OHS officers, safety team, business owners or anyone else trying to manage safety, work safety management is not always the easiest of ventures to wrangle. Often the people tasked with the duties of health and safety in a business aren’t always equipped with the best of resources to help them in this task.
Often we leave the ‘person’ responsible for safety with little more than spreadsheets, paper forms, email trails, and phone calls left unanswered. They need to fight for support and resources from management, and must constantly chase staff members for their input.
It can sometimes feel as though they are the only one who cares. Not only this, it can even unfairly place the burden of safety (or, the burden of safety gone wrong) on their single set of shoulders. This should never be allowed to happen.
Safety is a collective effort
It’s important to remember (or to learn if you don’t know) that everyone is in some part responsible for workplace health and safety. It cannot simply land on the shoulders of one person.
Everyone must play their role in keeping a workplace safe – for everyone else’s benefit.
This is too often forgotten. Leaders and managers often know they need to do something about work safety, so they task it to someone. This is fair – an OHS or WHS Professional is an expert in this kind of work. But what leaders and managers often forget is that they play a part too.
Safety must be encouraged and supported by leadership. This way, everyone in the team understands the importance and they will be motivated to get involved. They will understand it’s a collective effort.
Leadership in safety
It is imperative that senior management, leaders, business owners and any other duty holder are actively supporting a safety management program.
In fact, it is legislated that duty holders know what is happening and are taking active steps towards improve workplace health and safety.
What does this look like in practice? Here’s a few tips;
Keep safety management on the agenda – regularly talk about safety in team meetings (with all teams), feed results back to them, talk about priority areas in safety, and make sure everyone knows what role they play.
Make sure that the people who keep your safety program ticking along have appropriate resources to help them – like safety management software which allows them to plan the program, delegate important tasks, communicate vital safety related information effectively with workers, capture data, see trends, report back, and most importantly, improve things over time to reduce risk of harm to workers.
Check in with your safety management team on a regular basis. Review the reports they produce, discuss their challenges, and address what they need to protect your people. Make the time to do this, and you will vastly see things improve, whilst also actively upholding your legal duties.
Why now is the time for action
To be honest with you, it’s always been the time for action in safety. Because the physical and mental health of the people in your charge deserve to stay safe whilst they work. This is a fact. Everyone has a right to stay safe from harm at work.
But now presents itself as a good reminder to us all. We have see that the spread of the COVID-19 disease has often occurred in workplaces, as people come together to get on with their day job. So, it’s incredibly important that we all do something about this.
This is imperative not just so we comply with the law, but so we support the broader community around us.
So, if you haven’t already, it’s well and truly time for you to play your part. Not later, not next year, not when you have budget. Now.
Take action in safety today. A couple of ideas;
Make a meeting with your safety team or the people who do their best to keep it on track. Discuss how your safety management program is going and come up with a plan for improvement
Consider whether OHS professionals are needed – reach out to a consulting firm like actionohs.com.au if you need further assistance
Modernise your systems by getting safety management software in that will help you build a sustainable safety program. This doesn’t have to cost money – try our 100% free plan
Look at your data – what’s been happening in the past? Where are the places you can improve? If you don’t have any data to speak of, this is problem. Get started on tracking and documenting what is happening. Again, safety software can help.
Talk to the wider team. As we said before, everyone has a part to play. And this can mean that the people in your team will have good ideas for what is needed to improve WHS at your work. Listen to them and take note.
Don’t make the error of thinking that you have to work in a physical workplace to think about safety. Your responsibilities to protect the health and safety of your people are there whether you are working in a ‘workplace’ together, or all online working from home, or spread all over the world. Plus, don’t forget that this is not just about physical risks – think about mental health as well.
The list could go on – but this is good start.
To end, we wanted to say that it’s almost impossible to find a silver lining with such a terrible global pandemic. But here’s one to consider. The pandemic has brought attention to the great importance of keeping everyone safe and free from harm – at work or anywhere. Now is the time to work together to actively keep each other safe.