Health & Safety has come a long way in the 40 years with legislation, guidance, best practice and shared learning helping to drastically reduce the incidence of accidents and deaths.
But how far have we yet to go in influencing people in adopting a more positive attitude to H&S?
Should we, perhaps, also be looking with a different perspective at people’s behaviour which results in an incident occurring?
When someone is involved in an accident how often do we assume that their behaviour, is a fundamental causation factor as a result of “how they are” (i.e. personal attitude, level of intelligence, personality) rather than the possibility that their behaviour may have been influenced by some external factor?
Ignoring or overlooking this may result in missing some vital lessons to be learned therefore failing to take appropriate measures to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
We know that simply blaming someone’s behaviour that is judged as wrong in hindsight, does not explain why they did what they did in the first place i.e. what influenced their actions.
Instead looking at why the behaviour occurred rather than attempting “to cure” the behaviour itself may be a better way to directly address the cause of the incident.
Would a better approach be to take time to understand the behaviour in the context in which it happened: what were they trying to do; what information / knowledge did they have at the time; what was going on around them when the incident took place?
Investing time, money and resources to influence and change behaviours is the next step towards creating a positive culture where everyone plays their part as safety leaders to ensure an incident free workplace.
As Safety Leaders we are all on the front line of H&S “enforcement”, whether that is your primary role or just an “add on” to your job, now might be a good time to reassess just how you go about H&S. Is it with a “you can’t do that!” attitude or do you engage with colleagues – working with them to develop a best practice methods that will embrace everyone’s interests and safety.
Written by Adam Wade CMIOSH, AIIRSM, AIEMA