For many parts of the country, last week brought the first frosts and snow of the winter. Were you ready and how did your teams respond? Did you communicate any extra control measures to your teams, maybe via a toolbox talk or a safety alert?
A recently published article identified, facetiously, that winter had arrived right on cue at the start of winter. Why are we surprised when the weather throws in a few extra challenges and the business has to organise its people and resources a little differently?
The arrival of winter prompts us to raise an important question: As a leader, how can I be confident that good risk controls are in place each and every day and that new challenges will be identified proactively and managed effectively?
In response to the first part of question, there is no substitute for getting out and having a look!
Health & Safety tours (or talking with colleagues as we also know it!) allow you to see what happens day to day and to ask those who are undertaking activities to let you know what works well and where the potential challenges are. This has to be part of your Leadership and Management toolkit.
Beyond being on the ground and talking to colleagues, other business processes such as inspections, benchmarking, self assessments and audits will also be very supportive in knowing if hazards and risks have been identified and if good controls have been deployed to tackle them.
In terms of the second part of the question, if we reflect on the arrival of winter weather, it can be summarised as piece of change which requires managing. I think it is also worth noting that winter weather is reasonably predictable as a change that we know is likely to happen!
A quick search of your recent business challenges will identify that a change; such as a new client, a different piece of mobile plant being used, an agency worker introduced or a change of team manager; is likely to have been an underlying cause in what has occurred. You may have heard the phrase that “change is the only constant” and I think this is a good basis to work from.
Investigating your business issues to root cause will give you real insight into how change is being managed. If you have a formal change management process, a review of that will need to be part of your activities. If you manage change via your Risk Assessment process, is that providing evidence that change is being identified proactively? If not, a rethink is probably required.
To return to my introduction; the purpose was not to try and work out if toolbox talks were the answer to managing winter weather! Toolbox talks can be a really helpful resource in responding to change, but cannot proactively identify it – they are one part of the story but are certainly of little use if viewed as a task to be completed on the communication calendar!
The real issue is: how do we anticipate and respond to change?
If you would like to discuss further about consistently deploying good risk controls and responding to a changing world, please get in touch.
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