Health & Safety Measures

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You’ve developed a policy setting out our aims in health and safety, and organised staff so that these aims and objectives can be delivered. The next step is to plan exactly what has to be done and begin to put our plans into practice.

Setting objectives

This process should begin with setting out objectives. These objectives are important because if carefully thought through, they will help ensure that we comply with our legal obligations and provide us with targets against which we can measure our success. These objectives should be set not only for the organisation as a whole, but also for key individuals within it. Managers, supervisors, and team leaders should all have health and safety objectives determined for a given period of time. It is a good idea to do this in consultation with them so that the objectives contribute to the overall organisational aims and objectives, and they are realistic and relevant to the individual concerned and his or her span of control.

Organisational objectives

Systematic, effective management demands clearly identified goals or objectives so that an appropriate strategy can be devised, and individuals understand the company’s health and safety priorities. At this point however we need to eliminate any possible confusion between aims and objectives – they do in fact mean different things! We said earlier that the health and safety policy should contain the organisation’s aims, and these are the broad, overall targets that we set for ourselves. Having a deep management commitment to h&s, and maintaining accident rates at a minimum of 25% below the national average for our industry sector’s, are examples of such aims.

Objectives are specific targets that must be achieved in order to deliver the aim. A good example to explain these differences is the learner-driver. His or her aim is to learn to drive a car sufficiently well to pass the driving test. The objectives will therefore include being able to start the car, to effectively operate the clutch and gears, to steer in the right direction, to operate the brakes etc etc. If all the objectives are achieved then so will the overall aim, and the learner-driver will be the proud owner of a new driving license!

Developing clear roles

Systematic, effective management demands clearly identified goals or objectives so that an appropriate strategy can be devised, and individuals understand the company’s health and safety priorities. At this point however we need to eliminate any possible confusion between aims and objectives – they do in fact mean different things! We said earlier that the health and safety policy should contain the organisation’s aims, and these are the broad, overall targets that we set for ourselves. Having a deep management commitment to h&s, and maintaining accident rates at a minimum of 25% below the national average for our industry sector’s, are examples of such aims.

Objectives are specific targets that must be achieved in order to deliver the aim. A good example to explain these differences is the learner-driver. His or her aim is to learn to drive a car sufficiently well to pass the driving test. The objectives will therefore include being able to start the car, to effectively operate the clutch and gears, to steer in the right direction, to operate the brakes etc etc. If all the objectives are achieved then so will the overall aim, and the learner-driver will be the proud owner of a new driving license!

Competence

When assigning roles and duties it is essential to ensure that the individuals concerned are competent to perform the tasks required. This may sound obvious, but it is amazing how often we assume too much about people’s abilities. In health and safety for example, people will not be able to carry out meaningful risk assessments unless they have been shown how! Competence can be said to be a combination of training, experience, skill, and authority. It is for those assigning tasks to ensure that the appropriate competencies exist amongst their staff.

One way forward with the issue of competence is to identify the core competencies that various groups require, and use them as the basis for training needs analysis. Thus in a company organised into departments such as, admin., production, transport and sales, one would identify the key tasks that need to be performed in each one. It should then be possible to tease out the essential competencies required. Staff can then be assessed against these competencies and any shortfalls can be addressed.

Health and safety culture

Culture might be said to be the shared values and norms that exist in a group of people. The culture in a workplace could be said to be, ‘the way we do things around here’. Management should put a great deal of effort into developing a positive health and safety culture in their organisations. This means that staff reach the point where health and safety is considered at every stage of their work, and that deviation from this norm is frowned upon. In this way they naturally adopt good work practices and they do not have to be continually checked and monitored. The UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) feels that there are four C’s which together help form a positive health and safety culture.

  • competence, – ensuring that all staff are competent,
  • control, – providing adequate supervision of staff and having effective management systems,
  • co-operation, – ensuring co-operation between all parties in the workplace and
  • communication, – maintaining dialogue with staff, giving and receiving feedback.

One might say that these elements should be present in any well-run organisation, but sadly this is not always the case. In health and safety however, the stakes are high, and so getting the right organisation in place, with staff who are competent, well motivated, and who subscribe to a common set of organisational values, is essential to success.

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