Implementing a Health and Safety Strategy: Starting from Board Level.

Whether intentionally or subconsciously, the employees of any successful business look to the top for direction and meaning. Business leaders should engage, inspire and encourage the workforce with focus and positivity, they are the role models that give their teams the tools and resources they need to succeed. For the successful implementation of any strategy or change in behaviour, a message must come from the top level if it is to be believable.

This is no different for health and safety strategies, which often involve behavioural change. But as a Health and Safety expert, how do you ensure that the leaders and managers at the helm of your business are completely on board with your recommended strategy? How can you ensure that they feel connected enough to take your company-wide message and engage all their staff?

We have five suggestions and strategies which will help you plan your approach to the C-suite level of your business and then enable them to positively transform the way their organization works.

1. Find out what everyone else wants:

The Health and Safety function does not sit in a vacuum. It exists in a symbiotic relationship with all the other functions within a business. By gaining a wide knowledge of the whole organisation you can gauge exactly what all those other functions are hoping to achieve and how they are intending to do it. This way you can gain an insight into what makes each function tick, and more importantly how Health and Safety can contribute.

Example:

Perhaps HR want to reduce absence and staff turnover. Ensure your strategy is presented in a way that explains that by protecting your workers, you reduce absences, ensuring that your workplace is more efficient and productive. Research shows that workers are happier and more productive in workplaces that are committed to health and safety. Reducing down-time caused by illness and accidents means less disruption – and saves your business money.

2. Align with the business mission:

Linking a health and safety strategy directly into the core vision and values of a business will demonstrate a clear connection to where your organisation is heading. This will make it much easier to sell your recommendations to the board as vehicles of added value.

Example:

If your business mission includes a move to sustainability then talk to your PPE supplier about the more sustainable options that they offer and think about building them into your strategy.

3. Understand the workforce needs:

Research is your building material. Spend time on understanding your organisation and finding out how people feel, how they work and what challenges they face. This will allow you to gain a clear picture of the areas for improvement where you can bring value to your business. This is also about spotting ‘leading indicators’, those behaviours which could lead to problems in future – more on these later.

Example:

Maybe gloves are an essential piece of equipment to protect employees’ hands. But do they need to use a smart screen while carrying out their job? Noticing that workers are routinely removing gloves to use a screen should lead you to build in touch sensitive glove options or to initiate a change in working process BEFORE an accident happens. Anticipating problems before they happen, and showing evidence of this, will make your strategy a valuable asset to the business.

4. Offer added value:

Accidents cost money. Insurance increases, legal expenses, staff replacements, additional training, time lost, lengthy investigations, fines and damage repair… the list is endless. H&S work to reduce accidents is technically cost preventative though, not revenue producing. Think about how health and safety could add value, despite not being a revenue producing function. Your strategic plan should enable all other departments to see a benefit, from smoother running for Operations, money saving for Finance, more sales and increased sustainability all round. The Health and Safety function can be an enabler for all these things to happen, simply by changing or adding products and processes.

Example:

If you include PPE which will help staff work more productively, this will show clear added value to a finance director. Maybe ensuring that women in your business have access to female-fit PPE will enable them to work more productively, rather than fighting with too-long sleeves or struggling with sore feet.

5. Be proactive, not reactive:

Celebrate mindset changes and look for those ‘leading indicators’. Too often Health and Safety is only discussed when there has been an incident – meaning it is seen in a negative light. This also places you in a defensive position, reacting in retrospect. Far better to change behaviours where you can, to avoid an incident occurring in the first place. Why aren’t staff wearing their hearing protection? Why do they need to take their gloves off so often? How did that near miss occur? Don’t wait for the value sapping incident, instead make every leading indicator into an opportunity to add value.

Example:

Work-related hearing loss is a ticking time-bomb in terms of future claims. Current legislation requires you to conduct noise risk assessments and doing this could also save a fortune in future legal fees. Analysing the risk may allow you to make changes to working procedures, possibly adjustments as simple as re-routing commonly used paths through your site or re-positioning noise sources further from workers.

Engaged board members can create impact and positive change, making organisations more meaningful. Once you have given them proof that they have ‘skin in the game’ they will be fully motivated to transform the way the business works and improve their operations. But they need you to coherently give them the evidence they need to enable action.

One final point:

Remember your experience and knowledge and be confident in your expertise – with the evidence you have provided in front of them, any board member worth their salt will take you seriously.

Anchor Safety has been specialising in PPE for over 35 years and works nationwide with numerous corporate, multi-site, multi hazard clients, in a strategic as well as a sales capacity.

Our advice can help you create the difference between a safety and wellness strategy which protects your employees and a safety and wellness strategy which actively supports your board level business needs at the same time as keeping everyone safe.

Call our experts today on 0800 328 5028 for advice on how we can support you in creating your strategic goals.

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