Common sense is not that common
For many organisations accidents are something that happen to other people. People who aren’t sensible enough to do the right thing at the right time in the right way. Or, if they are people that we like the accident was most likely just down to a bit of bad luck.
The best way, after all, to avoid an accident is by the application of common sense.
Unfortunately, common sense is not that common.
Understanding the hazards and risks involved in work places and work processes is more likely to create safe ways of working.
It is that understanding that makes what people see what they have been asked or instructed to do appear to be common sense.
Building common sense
You can’t assume that people will learn the difference between what is safe and unsafe without actually having or witnessing an unsafe experience. So, you need to implement some form of safety education programme.
Getting started with safety education is not that difficult, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either.
Here are some tips
Include health and safety within your core business values.
If it cannot be done safely without causing a health risk, then you shouldn’t do it at all.
Everyone needs to know that health and safety is a top priority, and that any conversation about health and safety is a serious conversation, that will result in action to address any concerns.
Come to work and go home safe
Ensure that every one of your colleagues knows, regardless of what job they do, that having them go home safely at the end of their working day is part of the way that you do business.
Make health and safety a daily conversation
If you want people to tell you about their health and safety concerns you have to make them feel comfortable talking about health and safety, so put health and safety on the agenda of every team meeting.
Communicate both ways
Every organisation, regardless of type, location, or size needs a straight-forward way of reporting hazards, risks, illnesses, near misses and accidents.
Grateful for reports
Every one needs to know that reports of hazards, risks, illnesses, near misses and accidents is something that the organisation values.
No one has felt that they would be in trouble for raising a health and safety related concern.
If you think that your organisation might have a problem with this, introduce a way in which people can make their reports anonymously.
Educate people about identifying potential hazards.
Ask people to get involved in regularly safety inspections and explain how to identify health and safety issues and potential hazards and risks.
Include people in the process
Everyone in the organisation should feel that they are part of the health and safety process.
Health and safety should not be something that is done for people or done to them, they have to be involved at every stage.
Time should be set aside during working time to enable people to get involved in health and safety related activities.
It is a good idea to involve your colleagues in the selection, evaluation and implementation of any health and safety related actions that the organisation intends to purchase.
Given the correct information about hazards and risks the people who know what the hazards and risks involved in a job are, are often the people who are actually doing the job.
These people are best placed to help with risk assessments and to help identify what might be a foreseeable emergency situation.
They are also more likely to be the people who can identify the best way to address that emergency.
Make sure that you have appropriate attention-grabbing signs in the right places to make sure that people are reminded of the hazards and risks in an area or the processes that are carried out in that area.
Change the signs regularly so that the new images attract attention and reinforce the health and safety messages
The best way to get people to accept change is to ask them to get involved in defining the required change and the process for introducing it.
Aim for improvement
Always aim for improvement.
Never accept the current situation, there is always a safer way or a way to reinforce a safety message.