The ability to create and maintain a safe working environment is critically important for businesses today. Accidents, injuries, and fatalities can have devastating effects on employees and their families, as well as significant financial and reputational costs for companies. To mitigate these risks, every organization needs a safety team that is responsible for identifying potential hazards, developing safety policies, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. However, not all safety teams are created equal.
A high-performing safety team is one that goes above and beyond basic compliance to actively seek out and address potential hazards before they become serious issues. This team is committed to continuous improvement, accountability, and effectiveness, and actively seeks feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement. Ultimately, a high-performing safety team is essential for any organization that wants to create a safe and healthy work environment, reduce risk, and protect its employees from harm.
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of a company safety team, and define the characteristics of a high-performing safety team. We will also discuss strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing safety team that will outperform others, and provide recommendations for organizations looking to improve their safety performance. Whether you are a safety professional or a manager looking to create a safer workplace, this post will provide you with the information and tools you need to build a high-performing safety team and ensure a safe and healthy work environment for your employees.
In any workplace, having an effective safety team is an essential part of ensuring a safe working environment. These teams are tasked with identifying risks, creating protocols, and educating employees on how to follow them. A high-performing safety team has certain characteristics that allow it to be successful in its goal of protecting employees and others who may enter the workplace.
These are the key characteristics that set high-performing safety teams apart from others.
1. Clear Roles and Responsibilities:
A high-performing safety team must have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Each team member should understand their individual roles and how they contribute to the team's overall success. This clarity helps ensure accountability and that all team members are working towards a common goal. With clear roles and responsibilities, a high-performing safety team can be more effective and efficient in preventing accidents and injuries.
2. Strong Leadership and Accountability:
Leadership is essential for any high-performing safety team. A strong safety leader promotes a culture of safety, leads by example, and ensures that the team is working towards the organization's safety goals. Accountability is also essential, and leaders should hold team members responsible for their actions and ensure they meet performance expectations. Strong leadership and accountability help to maintain a culture of safety and promote trust within the team.
3. Effective Communication:
Effective communication is critical for any high-performing safety team. Team members must be able to communicate openly, honestly, and clearly. They must be able to provide and receive feedback constructively. Strong communication skills help the team identify and address potential safety concerns and create a safe and healthy work environment. Effective communication also helps to build a culture of safety where everyone is aware of potential hazards and how to address them.
4. Consistent Training and Education:
Consistent training and education are essential for maintaining a high-performing safety team. Team members must be knowledgeable about safety policies, procedures, and regulations, and be able to apply this knowledge to identify and mitigate potential hazards. Training and education should be ongoing and reflect the latest developments in safety technology, best practices, and regulatory requirements. Consistent training and education help to keep the team up-to-date with the latest safety information and help to prevent accidents and injuries.
5. Continuous Improvement and Learning:
A high-performing safety team is always looking for ways to improve and learn from past mistakes. They actively seek out feedback and data to identify areas for improvement and take action to address them. They also learn from their successes and use this knowledge to continually improve their performance. Continuous improvement and learning help to maintain a culture of safety and ensure that the team is always working to prevent accidents and injuries.
Achieving a high-performing safety team depends on having the right people in the right roles. Recruiting talent with experience and expertise should be among your highest priorities. Once you've established a strong safety team, the next step is to set performance goals and objectives for each member, ensuring that everyone understands and agrees to the roles they'll be playing. It's also important to assign individuals to specific tasks related to safety management and create measurable standards of success.
Here are five key steps to building a safety team that can prevent accidents, ensure employee safety, and enhance the organization's overall performance.
1. Identify Key Stakeholders and Resources
Identifying key stakeholders and resources is a critical first step in building a high-performing safety team. This includes defining the roles and responsibilities of individuals and groups involved in the safety program, such as executive leadership, managers, supervisors, and frontline employees. It also involves identifying the resources necessary for the safety team to succeed, such as funding, equipment, and personnel.
2. Develop a Safety Management System
A safety management system (SMS) is the foundation of a successful safety program. It provides a structured and systematic approach to identifying hazards, assessing risks, and implementing controls to prevent incidents. The SMS should include policies, procedures, and guidelines that align with regulatory requirements and the organization's safety goals. The SMS should also provide a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of the safety program and identifying areas for improvement.
3. Recruit and Train Safety Team Members
Recruiting and training the right individuals is essential for creating a high-performing safety team. The team should consist of individuals with a mix of technical, analytical, and interpersonal skills. Team members should have a deep understanding of the organization's operations, hazards, and risks, as well as the regulatory requirements that apply to the industry. Ongoing training and development opportunities should be provided to team members to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their roles effectively.
4. Implement Effective Safety Processes and Procedures
Implementing effective safety processes and procedures is crucial for preventing accidents and ensuring employee safety. This includes developing job hazard analyses, conducting safety audits, performing risk assessments, and implementing controls to eliminate or mitigate hazards. The safety team should regularly review and update processes and procedures to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
5. Measure and Monitor Safety Performance
Measuring and monitoring safety performance is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the safety program and identify areas for improvement. The safety team should track safety metrics, such as incident rates, near-misses, and safety observations. They should also perform trend analyses to identify patterns and root causes of incidents. Regular safety audits and inspections can help identify areas where performance can be improved.
Having a high-performing safety team that is organized, motivated and focused on achieving company goals can be incredibly beneficial. To ensure continued success and maintain peak efficiency, it's essential to utilize key strategies that will maintain the team's performance.
1. Promote a Safety Culture
A safety culture is a set of shared values, attitudes, and behaviors that prioritize safety in the workplace. Creating and maintaining a safety culture is essential for sustaining the effectiveness of the safety team. It involves promoting safety as a core value of the organization, providing a safe and healthy work environment, and ensuring that employees understand and comply with safety policies and procedures. The leadership team should model safe behaviors and encourage employees to do the same.
2. Encourage Employee Involvement
Employee involvement is critical to maintaining a high-performing safety team. Encouraging employees to actively participate in safety activities and providing opportunities for them to offer feedback and suggest improvements can help foster a culture of safety. This can include providing safety training and encouraging employees to report hazards or unsafe conditions. Regular safety meetings can also provide a forum for employees to share their experiences and concerns.
3. Continuously Assess and Adjust the Safety Program
A safety program should be continuously evaluated and adjusted to ensure it remains relevant and effective. This involves analyzing safety data and metrics to identify areas for improvement and adjust the safety program accordingly. The safety team should regularly review and update safety policies and procedures to reflect changes in the work environment or regulatory requirements. Ongoing training and development opportunities should be provided to ensure the team has the necessary skills and knowledge to adapt to changing conditions.
4. Recognize and Reward Safety Achievement
Recognizing and rewarding safety achievement is an effective way to maintain a high-performing safety team. This can include recognizing individuals or teams who have demonstrated exemplary safety practices, providing financial or non-financial incentives for safe behavior, or celebrating safety milestones. These actions can help reinforce the importance of safety and encourage continued adherence to safety policies and procedures.
In conclusion, building and maintaining a high-performing safety team is crucial for any organization to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for its employees.
A high-performing safety team possesses clear roles and responsibilities, strong leadership and accountability, effective communication, consistent training and education, and continuous improvement and learning. To build a high-performing safety team, it's important to identify key stakeholders and resources, develop a safety management system, recruit and train safety team members, implement effective safety processes and procedures, and measure and monitor safety performance. Maintaining a high-performing safety team involves promoting a safety culture, encouraging employee involvement, continuously assessing and adjusting the safety program, and recognizing and rewarding safety achievement.
Organizations that prioritize safety and invest in building and maintaining a high-performing safety team not only ensure a safe and healthy work environment but also benefit from increased productivity, reduced workers' compensation costs, and a positive reputation.
Find out how to manage your business' health and safety better
Many employers are concerned about their reporting obligations for COVID-19/Coronavirus/SARS-CoV-2 under RIDDOR in the ongoing pandemic. You may be pleased to know that you do not have to report everything to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). We'll provide more info about when, what, and how to report.
The most common concern we've seen recently from employers is whether they need to report all COVID-19 and coronavirus testing results to the HSE. The short answer is no. According to the HSE: “There is no requirement under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) to report incidents of disease or deaths of members of the public, patients, care home residents or service users from COVID-19. The reporting requirements relating to cases of, or deaths from, COVID-19 under RIDDOR apply only to occupational exposure, that is, as a result of a person's work.”
Generally speaking, the ordinary RIDDOR rules already cover COVID-19. You should only make a report under RIDDOR when one of the following circumstances applies:
• an accident or incident at work has or could have caused the release of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). (Report as Dangerous occurrence)
• a worker is diagnosed with COVID-19 due to occupational exposure. (Report as Disease)
• a worker dies because of occupational coronavirus exposure. (Report as Work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent)
The bottom line is that existing rules cover most COVID-19 measures, and most of the COVID-19 guidance comes from public health authorities rather than the HSE. The environment remains chaotic, but you can minimize your legal exposure by continuing your existing compliance steps. This will include communicating with your insurer about risks, following public health guidance, and communicating regularly with your workers or unions on any of their concerns.
© Gavin Coyle, 2021
© Gavin Coyle, 2021