Why do so many workplace safety programs fail to deliver on their intended outcome?

Stop crunching numbers, re-thinking and re-strategising; the failures of your workplace safety programs likely have little to do with your objectives, metrics or controls. Instead, there is a more pressing core issue – your people.

Behind every successful workplace safety program must lay an effective safety team. In striving to improve workplace safety standards and ensure regulatory compliance, the goal of employers needs to be not only on developing an effective safety program but on building and recruiting health and safety professionals with the capability and commitment to implement it.

What constitutes an “effective” health and safety team?

An “effective” health and safety team is a group of people working seamlessly together to consistently achieve a more efficient and dynamic way to protect the safety of themselves, their colleagues and the interests of the company as a whole. They will achieve this while at the same time delivering on the prodigious corporate goal of improving bottom line, correlating their efforts to maintain a safe and compliant workplace with growth in productivity and product/service quality and a reduction in costs.

How do you build a health and safety dream team?

The ultimate goal is to recruit and build a safety team that collectively excels at identifying, analysing, anticipating, monitoring, managing and rectifying safety and health issues. However this means bringing together professionals from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds – scientists, chemists, engineers, technicians, environmental analysts and operational managers to name but a few select titles. To get the most from this integrated safety team, there are some decisive steps which employers need to take.

Create clear roles and responsibilities:

Utilise your safety team members where they are best suited; enable team members to play to their strengths. Assign clear roles and responsibilities to each member of the team, at each level of the organisation. Each person’s authority and obligations and the impact their duties have on the overall goals should be clearly defined, documented and communicated to them. Each member of the team therefore has their own purpose and their own individual contribution to make towards achieving the overall safety goals of an organisation.
Meeting safety compliance standards is no mean feat. A well-constructed workplace safety program will lay out all of the necessary tasks and controls required to meet required standards. However the success of your safety program depends significantly on effective delegation of these various tasks and controls.

Develop a positive change culture:

Your safety team need to be champions of change, always ready to embrace new ideas, new initiatives and new technologies which can help them to better achieve the overall safety and compliance goals of the business. A sense of urgency around embracing change must be developed around the safety team to steer them into the mind set of not only embracing but leading changes which increase workplace safety.
A key attribute of inefficient, ineffective safety teams is a desire to “keep doing what we are doing”. Standards, compliance regulations and business goals are consistently evolving and so too need the knowledge and efforts of your safety team.

Ensure mutual accountability:

With the well-being of others and the company reputation at stake, every member of your safety team needs to realise that they hold mutual accountability. They have a duty to manage their own safety roles and responsibilities to the best of their ability but it is also in their best interest to support other members of the team when they need it. An “all for one and one for all” mind set needs to be taken. Each individual should act for the benefit of the group and the group should act for the benefit of each individual. Safety team members need to keep front of mind that they each have a common goal and an equal part to play in meeting safety compliance goals.

Accountability is not about assigning blame and punishment. Accountability is about diagnosing and understanding; uncovering where needs may lie for improvements or alternative thinking or techniques. It’s about reducing injuries and accidents and more quickly and competently addressing safety concerns.

Establishing an effective safety team, each playing to each other’s strengths and collaborating seamlessly, holds the key to achieving many important business goals and solidifying workplace safety excellence. Even beyond these achievements, by building an effective team, companies can ensure they are viewed positively by their workforce, their prospects and customers and their industry peers, even taking a favourable position over close competitors.

About Coyle Group

Coyle Group are a leading safety recruitment and consulting company, based in Ireland, but with a global reach. With a proven track record in sourcing and placing quality health and safety candidates, Coyle Group have become the health and safety recruitment partner of choice for global leading organisations such as Siemens, ALSTOM, ESB Networks, Amey, Doosan and VolkerWessels.