Over the last 8 years we have worked with hundreds of businesses and trained many more hundreds of people on health and safety. We have found that the vast majority initially failed to understand the importance of monitoring health and safety in a proactive way.
Why is it that so many businesses think that they can measure their health and safety performance on the basis of reactive data alone? The absence of accident and near miss reports in our experience does not mean that health and safety is well managed.
We have come across some very unsafe workplaces over the years where management has failed to recognise the risks. Take a site we visited recently to undertake a DSEAR assessment, we were seriously concerned about the level of risks that existed and the apparent failure to manage these risks over a long period of time.
So what proactive monitoring tools can and should a business consider using to ensure the safety of people and the business is properly maintained? Firstly, there is no one approach that fits all businesses; however a business should consider using some of the following:
- Risk assessments – if done properly should focus both on the risks today and risks that could occur in the future;
- Workplace inspections – can be used to monitor changes in the workplace activities, equipment and plant condition etc;
- Audits – should identify how well the health and safety systems are applied and identify potential non-compliance concerns;
- Staff surveys – can help to identify attitudes to health and safety in the workplace.
Of course there are many other approaches that can be used to help determine the likely direction of a business, including setting of health and safety goals. The value of setting goals was discussed in our previous blog.
Each business will have a different business need, but in our experience those that look to monitor using proactive information are likely to be far more successful in managing health and safety within their organisations. Clearly if we had a crystal ball life would be so much easier; but we don`t so why not implement the steps that are going to protect us, our businesses and our people?