Last week we touched upon the advantages of Quality management and why this is actually a strong driver for growth. Of course, the same is true for Health and Safety. The people make the organization so their health and safety should be a top priority. Unfortunately for lots of companies, this isn’t the case, and they see the HSE as a cost center and not a driver of growth. When employees feel happy, they are able to excel and bring the company to the next level.
No Cost Center
Yes, HSE costs money and yes this will have an effect on the bottom line of the company, but it isn’t a real cost center. Maybe when you strictly check the definition of a cost center it might be one, but then every department is except for sales. The real HSE costs occur when incidents happen and people aren’t able to work. This is when the company really starts to pay and then it pays for a lack of HSE management. As the HSE department, it is imperative to express this a lot, not only to Top Management but also to all the other employees. You are creating a culture that should guarantee the safety of the employees, so make sure everybody is aware of this. Everybody in the organization needs to feel safe to thrive; without it, people will freeze and won’t add much value.
HSE Management System Implication
The same as with the Quality Management System, the real difficulties start with the HSE Management System. There are all these procedures and policies to make HSE somehow tangible. Top Management cannot relate to it all and don’t really do anything with it. The “required” audits and checks feel like a burden and people don’t see the added value, they simply want to do their job.
On the other hand, they do want to go home in one piece after a day of work so everybody knows that HSE is important for their own wellbeing. It is just that enormous colossal of a Management System that companies have in place that prevents employees from taking it seriously. Safety isn’t really embedded in their job. A good safety culture is important to take care of this. A readable and easy to use management system is crucial for a functioning safety culture. People should be able to report a near miss or accident fairly easy to make sure you as the HSE department get this information. It also should be easy to access the safety instructions on the web without difficulty.
Tools and Equipment
HSE does require a significant investment from the company. Not just in time but also in tools and equipment. People need tested and safe PPEs, there needs to be safety training, documentation needs to be available, adjustable table and chairs for office people, etc. In essence, taking care of people and making sure they can do their job safely costs money but not doing anything could be much more expensive.
Data is always a great way to measure activity but also a great approach to involve Top Management. Showing the results of safety awareness training by fewer incidents or fewer injury hours has a significant effect on the mindset of Top Management. Harvesting and collecting data is the number one requirement to even be able to show the data. Make sure there are tools available within the organization to do this properly and fast. Good HSE data management is essential in creating a safe workplace.
Keep in mind you need to do whatever you can to make sure people go home the same way as they arrived in the morning.