Procedure is often shunned in health and safety and for many, it is the first area that comes to mind with its focus on process and often heavy documentation. Whilst for many it is viewed as the ‘boring’ part of health and safety, it is entirely necessary to ensure the functioning of a workplace in a safe manner. Finding ways to improve the health and safety procedures within an organisation can often be challenging, particularly if the culture has influenced to such an extent that the norms are highly deep-rooted. This challenge is often the first thing health and safety experts need to overcome when improving a workplace from a safety perspective. Here we have a look at the different areas you should look at when assessing current health and safety procedures and how they can be improved.
1. Are any procedures followed blindly without evidence for effectiveness?
The existence of organisational culture feeds into a lot of different areas of an organisation. This can have an impact on the procedures that you follow. As a health and safety professional, you need to ask yourself if the current procedures are followed for any particular reason or if they could be improved. This may lead to you uncovering some practices and ideas that may have seemed necessary before but are in fact not useful to the organisation, both in terms of time or the lives that they can save.
2. Can behavioural safety be influenced by any of the health and safety procedures
Having health and safety procedures written down is all well and good but if they are not being followed in enough numbers the improvements cannot be realised. Try and look at where changes in procedure, could influence the behaviour of workers. This could include signage, methods of working and the use of PPE. Using good behavioural safety practices like positive reinforcement and implementing effective health and safety signs will help ensure your procedures are good from a behavioural safety perspective.
3. Where can good health and safety procedures be improved?
One of the mistakes that many make when looking at procedures is not taking enough time to look at what’s going well and how it can be improved. This idea of focusing more on the positives and how we can make it go right rather than not go wrong is one of the key ideas behind the Safety Differently movement and is very important when it comes to analysing what you have done well. Look at procedures objectively. Do they prevent a certain number of incidents a year? Could this number be reduced further with some simple changes? These are the areas you need to consider when evaluating your own prior performance.
Try and create a learning environment when it comes to health and safety procedures
The three points in this article are all areas that can be looked at to improve health and safety procedures however they are not a ‘quick fix’ that only need to be looked at once and never reviewed. One of the key areas of agreement the HSE Network finds from its health and safety conferences is the need to encourage constant learning and development amongst the employees and organisation as a whole. Our interview with Sir Clive Woodward sums up succulently the need to create a learning environment in the workplace.