Monday, May 4, 2009

Health and Safety a reluctant portfolio

This appears to be a problem mostly amongst SME's (Small to Medium enterprises) and is clearly related to three specific issues: Percieved cost of implementation, ownership and a failed ability by the legislator to enforce the requirements. Although we cant change the manner in which the legislation is managed, we can incorporate the self regulatory intentions of the legislator into how we do business. Don't wait to be policed, rather invest and ensure you have a system working for you. Health and safety is only costly if we implement it in a haphazard and after the fact manner. By doing this we allow ourselves to be guided by big business or consultants, who have no insight into how we manage our core business, often resulting in the development of costly short term solutions addressing external concerns rather than our own opportunities. Legislation can and should be built into every aspect of our business. The following 4 aspects are critical to our business continuity and form the basis of the legislation: Identification of exposures; assessing these exposures; developing controls to reduce the likelihood of them materiailizing or mitigating there impact and finally communicating the exposures and controls to all persons involved in our operation. As you can see the management principles are no different to those of any other discipline within your organization. Make safety part of how you do business. Its only costly when you have to do it to satisfy the needs of others. Being a consultant myself I dont want to say we are not needed, but would rather like to say we often sell our services for the wrong reasons. My goal is to provide support, allowing you to develop and sustain those 4 key aspects as an integral part of your business ethic. Our goal should be to reach a point where we are no longer dependent on each other, you for compliance, me for an income, but rather interdependent where we are sharing ideas and cultivating a culture where the ability to perform safely is determined by our efforts to provide a safe environment in which safe decisions can be made. Only once we have all realized that health and safety is an integral part of our core business will we be able to take ownership, and unfortunately we will only see a return on our investment if we embrace this ownership. How many safety plans have you had developed by an outsider for a specific project? How many deals have you lost because you have failed to display health and safety ownership? How many costly incidents could have been avoided because you ignored these 4 aspects? What are the top 5 exposures of your organization and how are you addressing them? How can you take ownerhip of your Health and Safety?
  • Understand the legislation. (Take the time to read it - its common sense)
  • Identify your exposures. (At least the top 5)
  • Assess these exposures. (What can you do to remove or reduce these exposures)
  • Include these control measures in your operating methods. (Make it part of the task)
  • Document and communicate these exposures and control measures.
  • Make the implementation of this process part of your management responsibility.
Don't put your safety in someone else's hands - it could be fatal and most definitely will be costly.

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