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Better Safe Than Sorry

Safety culture or climate is not a difficult idea, but it is usually described in terms of concepts such as ‘trust’, ‘values’, ‘ideas’, ‘beliefs’ and ‘attitudes’ that all members of an organisation share about risk, accidents and ill-health. It can be difficult to describe what these mean, but one can judge whether a company has a good safety culture from what its employees actually do rather than what they say.

A healthy safety culture is one where there is visible commitment to safety by management, workforce participation and ownership of safety problems and solutions, trust between the various levels of employees, good communications and a competent workforce.

Accidents often happen because nobody has bothered to report or do anything about an unsafe situation. For example, a spilt cup of coffee or a pile of boxes in a passageway can cause an accident if someone slips over because of them. If you see a situation like that, make it your business to do something or tell somebody about it. Follow it through until something is done. Simply by communicating with others you can help to avert an accident.

Good health and safety is not just a matter of complying with the law but it is fundamentally a key aspect of overall business performance, linked to quality, HR, environmental targets and business excellence generally. Therefore, one should strive to go beyond mere compliance with health and safety law.

Getting health and safety right is not just the responsibility of one person, though it is vital that managers at all levels accept that health and safety is a line management responsibility.

Good health and safety is not just a matter of complying with the law but it is fundamentally a key aspect of overall business performance, linked to quality, HR, environmental targets and business excellence generally. Therefore, one should strive to go beyond mere compliance with health and safety law. Management should aim to achieve a cycle of continuous improvement based on good, if not best, practice. Such an approach is seen as developing a professional approach to operations and also of enhancing one’s reputation.

Safety is not an absolute: it’s all about using good judgement. Active employee participation in safety is important, to build ownership of safety at all levels and exploit the unique knowledge that employees have of their own work.

Getting health and safety right is not just the responsibility of one person, though it is vital that managers at all levels accept that health and safety is a line management responsibility. The challenge is how to have a positive influence on the organisation’s health and safety culture, where safe and healthy working becomes second nature to everyone, ultimately becoming a habit. It’s hard to change attitudes and beliefs of employees by direct persuasion, but by acting safely employees can start to think safely.

Act now! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Last modified onTuesday, 24 December 2013 09:07
Alfred Debattista

Alfred Debattista is a banker by profession, having worked with Bank of Valletta for the past 28 years. He has served in various roles within the bank’s branch network, Training Centre, Corporate Centre and presently occupies the role of Health & Safety Manager. Alfred is also a freelance management trainer, delivering training and consultancy to the private sector.

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