Today is the start of Health and Safety Week 2014, which has been launched by the HSE and other partners to highlight certain aspects of health and safety in the workplace – with health and safety leadership being one of the drivers for debate and action. There is an important difference between health and safety leadership and health and safety management – the former is strategic while the latter operational. But what is effective health and safety leadership, and just how should you lead?
Ensure Your Leadership Skills are Robust and Effective
Robust health and safety leadership is fundamental to successful health and safety management. Since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter offence in 2007, the spotlight has focused on the responsibilities of directors and senior managers within organisations. As an employer, you should develop effective leadership strategies if you are to avoid prosecution.
4 Top Tips for Effective Health and Safety Leadership
- Plan your direction: devise a robust and dynamic health and safety policy which sets out your performance standards and values, and ensure that the duties and responsibilities for health and safety management are communicated throughout the company. Don’t forget to consider the safety arrangements of partners, suppliers and contractors, as their performance could adversely affect yours.
- Establish clear roles and assign responsibilities and accountabilities for individuals and teams. Those in leadership roles must lead by example, by proactively communicating the importance of health and safety throughout your organisation, being active and visible in the workplace and encouraging safe behaviours. Ensure your workers understand the role they play in your company’s safety.
- Check that you are delivering on health and safety: focus on introducing risk management systems which enable the delivery of risk management and risk reduction strategies. Ensure health and safety is adequately resourced; obtain health and safety advice from a competent person, carry out risk assessments and implement control measures in consultation with your workforce. This will make staff feel valued and increase the likelihood of achieving compliance with policies and safe systems of work.
- Monitor and review your performance at least once a year: carry out periodic audits of the effectiveness of management structures and risk management controls. Ensure appropriate weight is given to reporting information such as progress of training and maintenance programmes and incident data, e.g. accidents and sickness absence rates. In terms of accidents, your goals and responsibilities should focus on the systems and activities that drive safety outcomes, as opposed to the outcomes themselves.
Failure to include health and safety as a business risk can have catastrophic results. Act now to take the lead on health and safety to avoid costly prosecutions and fines.
Contact us if you would like advice.