Creating a positive health & safety culture
03 April 2018
James Marston, learning and development manager at the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc), looks at the impact of health & safety on productivity and morale in the workplace
There is no doubt in my mind that a health and safety culture in any organisation makes a huge impact on productivity and morale of its workforce.
It’s the law that employers have a duty of care as do employees. Managed carefully with clear aims and objectives your health and safety policy can help drive your business forward, reduce the risk of conflict between staff, and allow staff at all levels to interact with management and other departments of the business for the greater good.
I understand that 25% of our workforce is now millennials (born after the year 2000) and they want a different workspace and interaction with their colleagues and the business they work for. People expect more from their employer and want to feel proud of their brand, product or service and why not? Many spend more time at work than we do at home and so feeling valued and making a difference in the smallest way counts. The CEO that understands this uses it to significant effect to communicate with all staff about their care and wellbeing.
The alternative is a negative culture where health and safety is not as important. A lack of direction, leadership, and letting productivity dictate the direction can lead to less safe working practices. Safety conscious employees may over time accept the majorities way of thinking but eventually leave the business because they feel unsafe.
Inevitably standards will drop, behaviour will be poor, and accidents may occur as a result.
Good policy starts at the very top of management who must provide leadership to inspire and motivate managers at all levels to pursue agreed objectives. Just as important is visible leadership. Managers who ‘turn a blind eye’ would be assumed as not interested. Those who demonstrate commitment to health and safety to their staff creates the local health and safety culture and so the organisation transforms into a much safer place to work.
How can this be achieved?
Once aims and objectives are agreed by senior management and documented on the organisation's health and safety statement, management can start by leading by example. Managers can play a role in day to day meetings about safety issues and take part in any tours or audits. They can promote change in operations to safer practices and vigorously enforce company safety rules. In doing so they should recognise and reward good behaviour. All these objectives and many others will support a better culture for the good of all.