When I was first asked to work on this project my initial reaction was ‘Health & Safety? What do I know about that?’ But actually knowing very little allowed me to ask the right questions and bring about the change required – for everyone to take responsibility and engage in ‘health and safety’.
So often it is left to the designated H&S officer to write policies, ‘dangle the stick’ for not ‘complying’, to make sure assessments are done etc. you probably get it if you’re in an organisation.
The challenge posed by this piece of work was – how do we change this? How do we develop wider ownership, get people to actively engage in the H&S agenda? How can we change the ‘tick box’ attitude?
Our first step was to engage with staff through focus groups. I am a firm believer that front line staff have the answers to almost any problem. We asked:
What’s your perception of H&S generally?
What’s working well?
What get’s in the way?
How could we make things easier?
Are there issues being overlooked?
I then asked a similar set of questions to the designated H&S officers. The results were put togther and an agenda for change developed. We now had some concrete areas we knew needed work.
Key elenents of our change strategy
One of the key changes we made was in the langauge around H&S. We moved it from being ‘process based’ to being ‘people focused.’ From being jargonistic to being real and relevant.
For example instead of ‘checking the system to see if risk assessments had been signed off’ we moved to ‘asking Managers when they last had a conversation with their team about risks associated with their work.’
We are also undertaking a re-branding exercise so the loaded term ‘Health and Safety’ is not used and replaced with something more positive: ‘Stay Safe’- after all isn’t that the end goal? We are also revamping visually how people access information making it more attractive and user friendly.
This work is still ongoing but a lot has been done in terms of laying the foundation for change. Who said Health and Safety wasn’t exciting?
Happy to share more of this and introduce you to the organisation I’m working with if this is of interest to you. Please drop me a line.