The damaging effects of how Health and Safety is communicated in Workplace
So let’s face it, H&S is not sexy, but it is made even more boring and autocratic in nature in how it is often communicated in organisations. The bigger danger lies in the fact that management actually create a stick for their people to beat them with by taking this approach. When management do engage, operators provide them with lists upon lists of safety concerns; management can’t cope, can’t engage operators in prioritising risk, don’t give adequate feedback, people see no progress and the result is mistrust, hurt and anger that can and does lead to negative groupthink and a resistant culture. In most cases, the majority of people get pulled into this resistant culture and senior management are left scratching their heads wondering why unsafe behaviours leading to near misses and accidents are a reality onsite after so much investment has been made in H&S. So what is the solution? The answer is simpler than expected; with minimal effort and spends, when organisations shift their attention towards effective communication systems, front-line management proximity training and local ownership, a change occurs from the ground up. A sustainable safety culture is allowed to breathe and grow naturally when people trust the message and feel valued in its delivery. For more on how to initiate these approaches see ‘People, Power, Progress: Establishing a Sustainable Safety Culture in Organisations’.
Clarke, S. (2010), An integrative model of safety climate: Linking psychological climate and work attitudes to individual safety outcomes using meta-analysis, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, vol. 83, pp. 553-578.
Fernandez-Muniz, B., Montes-Peon, J.M., Vazquez-Ordas, C.J. (2012), Occupational risk management under the OHSAS 18001 standard: analysis of perceptions and attitudes of certified firms, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 24, pp. 36-47.
Fernandez-Muniz, B., Montes-Peon, J.M., Vazquez-Ordas, C.J. (2007b), Safety management system: development and validation of a multidimensional scale, Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, vol. 20, pp. 52-68.
Geller, S. (2001), Behaviour Based Safety in Industry: Realising the large-scale potential of psychology to promote human welfare, Applied and Preventive Psychology, vol. 10, pp. 87-105.
“Safety is not an intellectual exercise to keep us in work. It is a matter of life and death. It is the sum of our contributions to safety management that determines whether the people we work with live or die”
Sir Brian Appleton after Piper Alpha