Health and safety management and compliance in the workplace can mean one of two things: box-ticking and lip service (i.e. the bare minimum), or a conscious effort to implement a genuine improvement. Considering that proper HSE management procedures are well known to be major contributing factors to a positive working environment, it’s easy to see which is preferable.

Taking compliance seriously demonstrates respect for the workforce, provides an opportunity for all staff to be involved with business decisions and – most importantly – means everyone goes home in one piece at the end of the day.

These days, while ‘necessary evil’ might be a bit strong, HSE compliance is still often considered to be a distraction from or even an obstacle to conducting business, which makes it easy to accidently find yourself in the box-tickers category – robotically doing what is required of you under the remote threat of a surprise inspection.

However, a renewed impetus on safety can reinvigorate a workforce and improve motivation, presenting a rare opportunity to transform an organisation’s workplace into a place where feedback is gathered and acted on – a health and safety management system built on two-way communication rather than simply instruction and action.

The great thing is that this can be achieved without disrupting core business functions, while still giving safety the time it deserves. Here are the most basic things to consider when implementing improved health and safety management systems:

  • Remember, the introduction of a new way of working requires changes in business processes. Change management is a process itself rather than a single event, therefore a successful implementation will require that management prepares the way for the new system
  • Communication with and involvement of everyone that will come into contact with a health & safety management system is important to a successful roll out.  Whilst the selection team and those involved with selection may have been aware of the new system, if the majority have not been informed, barriers to a successful implementation may occur
  • After ‘going live’ it is essential that health and safety management teams monitor and support users to ensure that they are actively working in the new way, using the new system or incident management software, and not reverting back to old habits

Not only do accidents in the workplace ruin lives, they can also have a detrimental effect on the bottom line. These are the very first things to consider when making an organisational safety improvement. Next week, part two will go a little deeper into the timescales, training and administration that goes into introducing a new health and safety management system.