There’s a paradox which makes sustaining safe conditions at work tricky. The better an organisation gets at preventing danger, the more likely are employees to become complacent, heightening the risk of accident.
One of the best ways to minimise the risk of workplace accidents is to embed a proactive safety culture in the workforce. Rather than passively awaiting dangers, this mindset anticipates risks, seeking out potential trouble spots and preparing contingency plans in case things go wrong.
Refuse collection makes for a good case study. It involves numerous risks, from the unpredictability of live traffic, to the handling of potentially dangerous waste. Nonetheless, there are several methods councils can deploy to help establish a proactive safety regime.
Proactive spot checks are a simple, direct method through which managers can check the work of their staff ensuring that it is being carried out to the correct standard. Spot checks on operational activities, for example, allow managers to gain a valuable hands-on understanding of how things are running day to day.
Alongside getting a better understanding of ground level operations, managers should also assess their own proactive self-check.
However, there are limits to how much can be achieved internally. It’s also worth considering the services of an independent auditor. For example, at RMP we offer complimentary risk assessments for our clients. Both management systems and field operations could be assessed from a fresh, unbiased perspective, shedding light on unnoticed potential threats.
Reactive investigations are also important. Conducting thorough examinations into both incidents and near-misses help you to understand exactly how and where things went wrong. These should be carried out as close as possible to the incident in question. Done properly, these investigations can act as powerful catalysts for change, helping to embed the idea of constant vigilance and improvement among staff.
Finally, organisations should conduct data reviews to gauge the effectiveness of their systems, including both reactive data like claims statistics and proactive data such as risk-assessment reviews and training schedules. This could be part of a more general records check, helping to ensure that records are being kept and are up to date.
The key is to be consciously on the lookout for potential risks, and taking regular, documented steps as to how to improve, rather than burying your head in the sand. A robust safety culture refuses to slip into complacency — no matter how perfect your safety record.
Published date: 07th August 2017
Updated date: 15th November 2018
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