Building and maintaining a resilient and strong health and safety culture in the office isn’t rocket science – but it does take time, effort and a few passionate heads.
Culture is widely defined as ‘how we do things around here’. If you can find out how to change, and manage, the ‘how we do things’ – you’re off to a flying start! But it’s easier said than done.
We’ve been in the industry for years, and we’ve noted down some things along the way that have helped companies boost their health and safety culture massively.
It’s important to note that there are no shortcuts to a resilient health and safety culture, so you’ve got to just keep at it, and keep working hard to build and nurture a strong culture.
#1 Safety First
If you’re serious about building a healthy environment that boosts the health and safety culture in your company – then you need to put health and safety first, and you need to mean it.
There should be no going halfsies when it comes to people’s safety. Make sure that you put safety first, and that your employees know that.
#2 It All Starts With The Induction
When people start new jobs they’re keen to learn what their new office is like and what the rules are. This is a golden opportunity for you to make sure that any new employee is well informed. Make sure that they are told the exact rules instead of someone who’s been in the company for years on end and have developed their own interpretation of the rules.
It’s easier to set a strong foundation for habits, than change them years on. If you ensure that people are properly introduced to how things work, they’re off to a good start.
#3 Encourage Open Communication and Feedback
Not only do you need to put safety first, and mean it – there needs to be a two way channel of communication that encourages employees to offer their feedback.
For this feedback and improvement loop to function there must be:
- A channel/ channels where employees can give feedback on health and safety concerns
- A senior team of people taking feedback seriously and acting on it, to incentivise and reinsure employees that the feedback is valued and encouraged
As the health and safety responsible, or manager, your employees health and wellbeing whilst at work is your responsibility.
Before you need to worry about feedback channels, it’s important to build trust and ensure employees that their concerns are always taken seriously.
Set up a range of channels so that employees can give feedback and suggestions, do regular one- to one sessions with middle managers to go over the concerns of their teams, host drop in sessions, have a H&S letterbox, or introduce a feedback whiteboard where people can add thoughts and suggestions.
#4 Consistency, consistency, consistency
The thing about ‘the way we do things around here’ is that it changes. That’s both good and bad.
As soon as you let small things go, things start to snowball. It’s important to note that this doesn’t happen because your employees are bad people – but because of a slow but steady normalisation of deviation.
If you let John from marketing walk across the factory floor without the appropriate safety shoes because he only needs to nip in – then suddenly you’ll have a small army of rule- breaking employees. Although not actively trying to break the rules – normalisation of deviation is a slippery slope.
Rules are there for a reason, so make sure that they are followed.
#5 toolbox talks
A toolbox talk is a short and casual catch up on a super specific health and safety issue. It can be included in weekly catch ups or even on a daily basis. By regularly chatting through things health and safety – you can make sure that it is always at the tip of your employees tongues and that they remember what best practise is.
Sending a whole team away for health and safety is not only only expensive, it’s extremely time consuming. Instead, send the minimum staff away, and then let the rest of employees benefit from weekly toolbox talks covering the same as the course – but over a longer period of time and broken into snippets.
We’ve all done the odd training course in our time, and we’d be lying if we said they were all thrilling. Because a toolbox talk is short and specific, there’s no time for bullshit and not long enough for attendees to snooze.
About Safety Training Scotland
Safety Training Scotland was founded in 2013 and has since delivered IOSH health and safety courses to over 2000 successful delegates. From training young people just starting out their career to senior level staff, we’re passionate about hanging the negative perception of health and safety training. At Safety Training Scotland, we see it our finest mission to put an end to ‘death by powerpoint’ and make H&S training interesting and engaging.