Culturally, most large organisations view Health & Safety requirements through the prism of compliance and visibility rather than leadership and culture. Time and again, this leads to a small increase in employee attention but fundamentally changes nothing about the behaviour of leaders or employees towards Health, Safety and wellbeing.
A shift in culture and leadership style is required to re-focus on what safety management means. With the following article, published in the Harvard Business Review in March 2018, Professor David Michaels explores a widely acknowledged corporate belief that there is a necessary trade-off between profits and the expense required to keep workplaces safe. He articulates clearly the result of such a belief and the very real risk posed by the safety myopia of large organisations when they undergo restructures at the top leadership level.
Recognising that safety is not a priority, rather it is an essential precondition of work, the author explores how to efficiently implement an effective H&S management system. This has the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) cycle at its core. But it also requires leadership focus and employee participation to develop such a system with effective risk control.
Most importantly, safety is not something that sits separately to operations or the rest of the organisation. The article outlines that quality and performance suffers when safety deteriorates. Employees that do not feel safe in their jobs are not likely to do their jobs well. For optimum productivity, safety and operating performance should be viewed as partners and not as competitors.
Bringing Health & Safety into everyday business activities will increase commercial success and employee motivation. The only cost incurred is the cost to do business well.
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