This article originally published by INX Software, 16 February 2018.
By Doug Wright
The first two articles in this series dealt with identifying and encouraging safety leaders. Now we will look at ways your workplace can support safety leaders, and implement a safety management system.
Western Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulations and Safety suggests the following strategies to further develop safety leadership and to encourage all levels of the management team to show their commitment to a safe workplace through their actions as well as their words. Ways to do this include:
- Chairing safety meetings.
- Taking responsibility for maintaining the safety management system (SMS) by participating in risk assessments and incident investigations to ensure the system is reviewed and updated as required.
- Being involved in reviews and training.
- Taking time to talk with work teams in both formal (e.g. site inspection) and informal (e.g. lunch break) settings about their safety and health experiences.
- Setting an example at all times by paying attention at inductions, following all safety procedures, asking when unsure, and using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing.
Encourage people to take personal responsibility for safety by consulting with site groups such as senior, middle and front-line management, and workers to set commonly accepted safety and health expectations linked to clear goals within the control of that group.
Raise awareness and promote the exchange of ideas by:
- Providing safety leadership training so that safety leadership becomes a corporate value.
- Providing appropriate risk management training so that leaders are more knowledgeable about safety and health on their operations, and have a common language with line management.
So how does an organisation ensure a robust risk or safety management system? What procedures should be included? Consider these aspects of systems and monitoring:
- Preventive maintenance.
- Operation procedures.
- Permit-to-work systems.
- Safety talks.
- Safety committees.
- Risk assessments.
- Near-miss reporting.
- Management of change.
- Risk management plans.
Ensure that the organisation does not foster a ‘blame the victim’ culture. Incidents and near-misses are unlikely to be reported when there are negative connotations for those involved. If the workforce trusts the system, individuals will be more likely to report accidents, safety hazards, violations, and incidents. In fact, there is likely to be an increased rate of reporting of defects, unsafe conditions and unsafe practices as the improved systems become embedded in the organisational culture.
Becoming a safety leader is not always an easy choice, particularly when workplace safety has not previously been a priority for the organisation. There may be resistance, opposition or any of a raft of non-compliant behaviours. When faced with such challenges, safety leaders must stand their ground and work smarter with a ‘never give up attitude’ apparent to the resistors. Resistance is often part of the learning curve.
The best safety leaders develop their practices over time, learning from others along the way.
Doug Wright is a transformed survivor of a head-on near-death vehicle collision. Passionate about helping people overcome their innermost fears, especially when recovering from trauma, Doug has survived to share his courageous story … his motto is “never give up”. Away from his everyday activities, Doug invests his spare time playing his electric guitar, knocking out an eclectic mix of Eagles hits and fishing for coral trout in Airlie Beach, Northern Queensland.