Broadly Thinking Insights – January
January seems to get a pretty bad rap – a lot of people can’t wait to see the back of it. But for businesses, the end of this so-called gloomy month can leave us with some surprising results. Yep – good old-fashioned data.
By the 31st January, you’re in a position where you can look back at a full month of business data, or thereabouts, which will help you to understand how well you’ve performed in the first month – along with your results.
The data can relate to all sorts of topics – volumes, price, customer satisfaction and quality – but what data do you have for Health and Safety? In fact, a question that I’m often asked is: ‘What should I be looking at to monitor progress with our health and safety journey?’ My answer never changes – ‘focus mostly on monitoring your performance and focus a lot less on measuring your results’. Another way to express this perhaps, is to give more of your attention on the presence of health and safety – and a lesser amount on the absence of incidents.
It’s not one or the other – it’s both – and I want to be crystal clear about this. But if your previous motivation was concentrating on measuring traditional reactive health and safety results – e.g. the number of incidents where an employee lost time from work – then there’s a much bigger opportunity waiting for you when you switch your attention to your H&S performance as a business. This is where the pot of gold is.
Let us remind ourselves why this is so crucial. When our risk controls fail to work – or they only partially work – in the vast majority of cases we’re not in control of whether an incident will take place or, what the severity will be. To put it another way, we roll the dice and assume luck will be on our side. The good news, (or the bad news depending on how you look at it) is that we often roll the dice in both our personal and professional lives – and we get away with it. So, a series of multiple unsafe acts occur…but often very few incidents are realised and even fewer with a serious consequence.
Which outcome we get is down to luck. If we’re aligning our success on what our Lost Time Injury Rate is, then we base that success on an outcome that we didn’t plan to happen. Traditional reactive rates completely ignore significant risks to a business – including occupational health, wellbeing and road risk – as well as events where the potential for loss was very high. But on this occasion, nothing occurred…so nothing changes.
Here we are then, at the end of month one. Right now, here are three things you could be focused on to monitor your performance:
1. How well has your 2020 health and safety plan been communicated across all layers of the organisation and cascaded into personal objectives for all?
2. Have your key health and safety consultation discussions with workers, restarted in a timely manner? What sort of issues are being raised?
3. Have your monitoring activities, such as inspections and audits, kicked off for 2020? What are they telling you?
Focusing on the presence of health and safety is all about asking ‘what are we doing to understand risk and to keep people safe?’. I’m not suggesting we stop measuring Lost Time Incident rates – not at all. But if you think about it, if somebody is getting hurt, then your organisation has more to learn. At the same time though, trying to react your way to world class is totally futile. It simply won’t work. Being world-class is a choice, an attitude – it’s a mindset.
A quick question then. Has January been a month of successfully working to get everyone home safe and well? Or, has Zero Harm slipped from your grasp for another 12 months? If you’d like to talk to us about your health and safety journey and changing mindsets, then please get in touch with the Broadhead Global team.
At the end of February, I’ll touch base with you again, to see how your performance monitoring and results measurement have changed.
My February insights will be posted on Tuesday 25 February – and will continue monthly through the rest of 2020. Please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions to do with this month’s insights.
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