Culture Clash! Why have a Health and Safety Strategy if no one follows it?

Posted by & filed under Engineering & Technical, Health and Safety, Human Resources.

‘It’s all about culture’ … ‘you need to implement a culture’ … ‘safety culture is key’

These are the words and phrases my best Safety candidates and Clients use. A HSE Poster on the wall is no more than a nice decoration if it is not used or followed. Your Safety Policy and Documentation folders make excellent coffee cups if you don’t read them. The bedrock of a successful Health and Safety strategy is one that targets the whole organisation, from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top. Success however is only ever quantified when efforts and procedures are followed as normal, not as an exception, or something remembered. When it is natural behaviour, then the strategy works.

I was once told that safety should be written and displayed like the Sun Newspaper. Not topless on page three but written in such a way that it is accessible to all. No over complicated, unnecessary legal jargon; just straight talking for the every person. It is a legal requirement to have a safety policy in place and a legal duty to protect the safety of workers under your care and those involved in your organisation’s operation. So you can’t ignore or neglect it. It is here to stay. Simple measures can be implemented almost immediately. However, culture does not happen overnight.

Culture is one of those ‘buzzwords’ that everyone seems to use these days. Used well, it goes beyond job specifications, CV’s and qualifications. It defines who we are and who we want. Ill informed, and it decorates marketing posters and fancy documents that never translate into the real life goings on. In Health and Safety, it is all about making the message clear and the strategy simple. Promoting a reward culture, not punishment. Including the workface instead of alienating them. The Toolmaker of 30 years, there as both man and boy, does not know everything (although he says he does). The Health and Safety Manager with seven NEBOSH Certificates and four Masters Degrees does not know everything (although he thinks he does). Understanding where the compromise lies and understanding what is practical, feasible, efficient and of course safe, is key.

Safety Culture is something that is hard to measure. When staff naturally know to wear their PPE, work safely, check and update documents and prioritise it as part of the daily process, you may well have won over the shop-floor. When managers proudly state their safety policy, know their figures and the company’s commitments to Safety in their CSR, Marketing and Meetings, the Board is behind you. From cost saving, to business growth through more customers, having an effective safety policy is one thing. Having a functioning and all inclusive, fully integrated safety culture brings dividends.

Exclusive support companies in implementing their safety strategy every day across the UK. From ensuring policies are relevant and compliant, to working with Directors to drive safety culture across the group, Exclusive provide bespoke Health and Safety Consultancy to support your business growth. Looking to hire a Safety Leader to drive that change and promote that culture? Woking with candidates across the UK, Exclusive offers a unique and unparalleled recruitment service to help you find the best talent. To discuss how we can help you, contact us today on 0191 691 2222.