Does Focusing on Health and Safety Make Things Perfect?

Focusing on Health and Safety in your business makes things perfect, right?

Well not really, however today Zane and Alice are discussing if there is such a thing as perfect Health and Safety and what are the things we should be focusing on to help us get better at it. 
Is it policies, forms and compliance, or people and the real risks to them and getting them home safe at the end of the day?

Over to you Zane and Alice


Transcript

Alice
Hi there, and welcome to another workshop Wednesday.

Zane
The old WW strikes again. Comes every week.

Alice
Today we're asking the question, does focusing on our health and safety make us perfect with our health and safety?

Zane
Perfect? Perfect is a big stretch, isn't it really?

Alice
Yeah, I guess so.

Zane
The reason this is an interesting question is because it's amazing out there, someone starts doing safety and focusing on safety in the workplace, and all of a sudden they start getting judged for all the things that aren't quite right instead of looking, hey, look at all these great things that we're now doing well.

It all becomes, but this is wrong, and this is wrong, and that's wrong. It doesn't matter that we've gone from being really crap to being pretty average. It's still, eh, this is rubbish, this is terrible. So focusing on it absolutely won't make you perfect, no. But it's probably better than doing nothing. Don't you think?

Alice
Yeah, I was going to say, but surely at least if I'm thinking about it, thinking about my health and safety and making a real focus on it, then things will start to get better?

Zane
Well, I guess that depends on a couple of things really.
One of the things, I guess, is if you're focusing on the people and how they're working and if they're working safely, then you're probably on the right road.

Alice
Yeah, sounds like a good trick.

Zane
If you're focusing on things like some numbers and just accidents and the things that are going on, and that's all you're thinking about, then you're probably going to end up in a bit of heartache and probably find that it's very difficult to shift the culture and you might end up less perfect. And actually might end up worse than you are now, because you've just focused on the wrong things.

Alice
So tell me what are some of the things that if I start focusing on my health and safety, what are some of the things that would be the outcome of that?

Zane
Well, I think one of things that is an outcome is that it kind of raises awareness of the stuff that's going on. We can do a job for a long time and not think about some of those things that are dangerous. So if we start thinking about them, while it might not be perfect, and it might be a way to go in making it perfect, at least we're thinking about them, and our mind is focused on the thing.

The other thing that it does is it often brings out practical common sense solutions from staff, the people doing the work, that helps you get towards that perfect health and safety. And the key for me is actually talking to them and going, well, hang on, what's going on down there?

But if you're doing it in a way that your focus on health and safety is just going and telling staff and giving them another piece of paper, "Guys, we need to be safer. Here's another bit of paper. Sign this." That's not really going to work. Particularly problematic, I think.

Because what happens is it becomes a bit of an us and them thing. We've got the workers doing the work, and then we've got the bosses, and the bosses just keep handing me paper and, well, do this, do this, do this. And you can actually make a bit of a divide between staff and managers. What happens is it's all about compliance, It's all about the numbers at the end of the month and these stupid statistics that we have to meet.
It's not actually about me and if I'm safe.

So we've got two things. We've got a manager that's talking about compliance and paperwork and risk sometimes, and that's their focus on health and safety. But you've got the staff member over here, and their focus is being safe while they're doing the work, having the right gear to do it safely, and getting home to their families.
So you can end up worse off with your culture if you focus on the wrong things.

Alice
So I guess we've debunked this thing that there's no such thing as perfect health and safety, but tell me what are some of the things that I can do, some of the good things that I can focus on in my health and safety to actually start making a real difference?

Zane
OK. Well, I think the number one thing is talk to your people. Talk to the people that are doing the work before you start issuing pieces of paper and policies and all that kind of stuff, because if you don't talk to them, if they don't know what you're trying to achieve, then that's the issue.

And get on the road to being this perfect health and safety. Don't think that it's just one thing that we do and get it right, it's a journey. And start talking to your staff. Don't worry about anything else, just start talking to them and finding out what the risky stuff is and what they think can be done to make things safer.
Just remember it won't be perfect right away.

Alice
Absolutely. Thank you for your time, Zane.

Zane
Another Workshop Wednesday. See you next week.