There is certainly a reaction within all sectors of industry to the recent legislative changes regarding Health & Safety in the Workplace which is great. There are organisations reassessing work practices along with organisations keen to get up to speed with good practice and ensure their employees get home safely. Overall the outlook is positive. What is important though, is that we don't overreact and make decisions that have a dramatic negative impact on the daily operations. Overreaction will only breed animosity and inhibit the culture change that's required to ensure we are all safe whilst at work.
Before implementing any safety changes, we must identify that there is a risk present and that the risk is significant enough that it requires managing. This assessment of the risk must be a collaborative approach from all stakeholders, often it's the workers who have worked alongside the risk that can identify the most effective control measures. By ensuring effective engagement is made within all sectors of the workforce we can ensure that any changes that are implemented have minimal impact and the workforce understand why the changes are required. From this whole of workforce approach to improving safety employees are more likely to feel engaged and valued which can lead to retention savings and productivity improvement.
There are currently examples of changes being implemented within organisations where the engagement process has not been followed and the results have been detrimental to organisational culture. Whilst the changes were made with good intentions and the control measures reduced the risk, they had a significant detrimental impact on the daily operations. Due to the lack of engagement and the subsequent negative impact on normal operations the organisational culture was dramatically affected and animosity towards the decision makers grew. The decisions that were made in some of the above examples were driven from the top, fear of from the officers within the organisation led to knee jerk reactions to reduce any culpability.
From these two contrasting examples we can see that a common sense approach which encourages communication from all stakeholders can actually be advantageous to the organisation in different ways. By encouraging all employees to identify risk and enabling them to communicate common sense changes organisations will see an improved culture.