Achieving excellence in health and safety

Lisa Kerford is managing director of Aptus

Our industry is an inherently dangerous one, which means adhering to the highest possible health and safety standards is of paramount importance.

Every day, organisations across our sector are dealing with sites, schemes and projects that require rigorous protocols to ensure tasks are carried out safely and securely without posing a danger to people, equipment and infrastructure.

Having the right systems in place

Because of this, having the right systems in place – to ensure information is cascaded accurately and effectively – is crucial.

Constant dialogue is required to ensure people have the right skills and knowledge to help them do their job safely. How these details are communicated has never been more important.

“It is incumbent on us all to support the mental health of employees through as many avenues as possible”

Regular safety stand-downs, toolbox talks and bespoke training plans are all excellent methods for imparting this information, and it is equally as important to constantly evaluate these processes in order to keep up with new technologies and find the most effective ways for messages to resonate with employees.

Without monitoring the impact of these communications, it can be difficult to ensure company-wide compliance, which is when standards can slip.

Ultimately, people have to be the focus, as it is their actions that drive health and safety excellence.

Celebrating best practice and innovation

With this in mind, companies must work hard to create an environment where best practice and innovation is celebrated.

Monthly campaigns that shine a spotlight on different health and safety topics to drive awareness is a good way of achieving this, as are awards and recognition mechanisms that champion the efforts of employees who have demonstrated a commitment to upholding the highest safety standards.

Implementing initiatives such as these helps to foster a culture where everyone works together to achieve health and safety excellence but, of course, there must be a balance; the reporting and raising awareness of incidents is vital too.

Creating the right environment

Whistleblowing policies should be reviewed regularly, and clear systems put in place for team members to anonymously leave feedback or highlight problems and issues.

Measures such as these can contribute towards employees feeling comfortable enough to go straight to their health and safety teams with any concerns or observations.

This is vital in facilitating interventions where necessary which can lead to further enhancements in procedures and processes.

It is a mantra heard time and time again across the industry, particularly at events, workshops and sessions, which links nicely onto the crucial role external partners and initiatives play in supporting health and safety provision.

One such campaign that is having a demonstrable impact is Working Well Together (WWT), which is sponsored and supported by the Health and Safety Executive.

Operating through a network of regional groups, WWT provides a suite of support services for SMEs within the construction sector, ranging from training courses and events to knowledge sharing and best practice.

Countless businesses in our industry benefit greatly from WWT’s work, with people who attend their events and workshops receiving tips and best practice that can be shared with colleagues.

It is imperative to keep an open mind when it comes to health and safety and to always listen to advice and learnings from others in the industry.

A spotlight on mental health

Elsewhere, there are charities doing fantastic work to shine a spotlight on mental health – a key component when it comes to overall health and safety.

Many companies in our sector have been signposting people to organisations including the Lighthouse Charity, Andy’s Man Club and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), because of the impact poor wellness and wellbeing can have on people’s ability to do their job safely, especially in construction.

It is incumbent on us all to support the mental health of employees through as many avenues as possible, including training, talks, workshops and mental health support volunteers.

Companies can have as many processes and systems in place as possible to try and achieve health and safety excellence, but it is people and their actions who deliver it.

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