Hi, if you are reading this guide, you must be interested in making sure that your health and safety function is firing on all cylinders. The best way to really get it moving and to monitor its success is to have an ally in every department. This is a guide on how best to achieve that.
Why infiltrate the other camps:
Health and safety is a mammoth task. The spectrum of roles and activities which it covers is almost infinite. This is particularly true in businesses with a variety of functions, job roles and activities or those in the manufacturing or food industry.
It’s a task which must be executed and executed well, given the consequences for the employer, employees and customers if a decent strategy isn’t in place.
It’s almost impossible for one department to cover the whole task, regardless of the size of the H&S team. The best you can hope for is an expertly-developed plan which covers all of the disparate regulations, requirements and processes. The deployment of it is a totally different task.
Without infiltrating the various teams and departments, any plan is simply just a theory rather than an executed vision with a practical application and real-world benefits.
The health and safety role itself is often a thankless task which can become very admin heavy without the correct automation. It can also feel overly prescriptive to employees in other departments and alienate those you want to help.
If you are automated, you’ll have the time to nurture a team of H&S experts who are great at networking. If they can engage with internal communications to promote the value of their function that’s definitely half the battle, but the true war is won by having health and safety heroes within each department.
What makes a great hero?
The flagship scenario would be to gather volunteers from each team who have been happily sponsored into the role by their direct manager. This means that they will be supported and not feel like they are drowning in extra responsibilities. The managers can then also select the most suitable people for the role.
The sensible and fair thing to do is to agree beforehand how much time per week is then typically required. If everyone knows that they will spend one hour each week on this additional task, their surrounding team can feel comfortable that no other aspects of their role or duties will be sacrificed.
It shouldn’t be their role to develop strategy or even particularly to execute it; more to aid the seamless deployment of the health and safety plan – acting as a go between and clarifying information between H&S and their team and vice versa. Often quite large-scale problems occur between business functions, simply because a miscommunication has taken place; heroes can make sure this doesn’t happen.
Any new regulation can be fed through; as can any H&S news. The main benefit however lies simply in having a positive ambassador within the team who has a real and worthwhile knowledge of the benefits of adhering to the rules and regulations, in addition to a real understanding of how their own department works. It may not be a one-size-fits-all approach that you need to take, but rather a different plan, department by department.
Make sure they are equipped:
If your health and safety is automated, which it really should be, make sure that there is a hero area on the application where they can access all relevant information that they need. Also, offer a message board or similar forum to allow them to collaborate on ideas, best practise and obstacles that they have faced. It makes sense for them to be able to share information and resources as and when they need to.
Mind your Ps and Qs:
You’ll probably need to meet once a month to discuss new ideas, plans and get feedback. If you are going to pull them out of work, they should get a biscuit or some cake or… you get the picture. They are doing you a favour and the only real way that you can say thank you is to make them feel appreciated. A nice meeting spot with beverages and snacks will help to achieve that. As will acknowledgement of their role by the senior leadership team. Work with all managers to make sure that their role is valued and publicly appreciated.
The best way to achieve anything in this area of life is to get people’s buy in. If people are engaged and support what you say and do, then getting them to follow your lead is just so much easier and more effective. It’s near impossible to reach out to every single person in every single team to get that buy in, but your heroes can do it for you. Work to get their buy in and they can do the rest.