Diagnosing the real problem with poor health and safety results

29th July 2019

We hear this a lot. “Our health and safety results are deteriorating – but we don’t know why”.

For some businesses, the deterioration is sudden – as measured by their KPIs. They’re perplexed by a succession of lost time incidents. Or worse, a devastating fatality. What they can’t pinpoint, is why it’s happened – largely, because they thought they had it covered. This then leads to another dilemma. They realise that the tactics that have got them this far, are unlikely to support the sought after changes they need. And this is a fundamental part of the problem. They’re focusing on time-consuming tactics – rather than a planned strategy.

This is where we step in. By working alongside business leaders and their teams, we frequently uncover multiple causes, which show us why these changes have taken place. These usable insights are clear signals for a business – ‘this is what you need to start doing, stop doing and continue doing’– and we achieve it through a diagnostic business review. It’s not a legal review or a technical review but an end-to-end review of their business practices, starting with two simple but significant V’s. Values and Vision.

Let’s start with values. More often than not, usable insights reveal that health and safety is not really considered a value at all. It’s more of a lip-service. They’re not seeing it as integral to what they do – it’s something they’re doing after they’ve done everything else. They’ve not been able to see that it’s a big part of what makes the business successful. On top of this, there’s no clear vision of what the business is trying to achieve, so their activities tend to be poorly coordinated and inefficient. And neither is there a clear plan of action to support the changes. Instead, reacting to problems has become their main driving force for change. They’re so focused on putting out the daily fires, that it’s limiting their perspective and ability to see the whole picture of what’s going on.

Diagnostic business reviews work well. That’s because they burrow deep and draw attention to the factors that are promoting an improvement in health and safety and those which are acting as a barrier. Take facts and figures. There’s no denying that they’re necessary for measuring safety and driving the growth of a business forward, but they don’t tell the full story.

During the short time that we become an extension to our client’s business, we work together to look at a raft of issues. They include leadership behaviours and why these have to have a day to day focus on health and safety. We look at organisational behaviour and company culture too – as well as the effectiveness of internal communications – to see if key health and safety messages are getting across.

A true safety culture is not delivered exclusively from the top down. Instead, it relies on everyone working together in a culture which is striving to create a positive environment where employees and the business don’t just survive – but thrive.

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