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To guarantee successful leadership in health and safety, learn from other companies' experience

by , 17 April 2015
We sometimes don't pay enough attention to the notion of successful leadership in health and safety, although we are quite tempted to try out any methods in other fields whenever we hear the word "success".

But the idea of success in a health and safety management system is tremendous as it brings so many benefits for both employers and employees.

Here are only a few of the benefits you can gain from successful leadership in health and safety as provided by Hse.gov.uk's case studies

Health and safety leadership; What you can learn from British Sugar

While British Sugar had an excellent safety record, it was devastated in 2003 when it suffered three fatalities. Despite the fact that health and safety had always been a business priority, the company recognised that a change in focus was needed to achieve behavioural change.

This change implied:

-    The CEO assigning health and safety responsibilities to all directors, and monthly reports go to the board;
-    Creating effective working partnerships with employees, trade unions and others;
-    Overseeing a behavioural change programme and audits; and
-    Publishing annual health and safety targets, and devising initiatives to meet them.

The changes the company made translated into a two thirds reduction in both lost time and minor injury frequency rates over a 10 year period.

Moreover, they were given a much greater understanding by directors of health and safety risks.

*********** Best Choice ***************

Your 1 527 health and safety duties as an employer

When was the last time you checked what disinfecting agents and cleaning materials your company uses?  

Do you comply with the Hazardous Chemical Regulations?  

There are over 1 500 items you must evaluate in your workplace according to the OHS Act and hundreds more from SABS 0400: National Building regulations.  

Health and safety laws apply to EVERY company, if you have more than 20 employees you have even  greater obligations. Do you know what yours are?


Health and safety leadership; What you can learn from Sainsbury's

This is another case study to show you the benefits of a successful health and safety leadership.

In this particular case, an external health and safety audit identified a need to develop a unified approach, and also recommended more direction from the board, to develop an effective strategy.

As a consequence, the company had to drastically revise its approach and this also meant the following:

-    The group human resources director creating a health and safety vision, supported by a plan with targets over three years;
-    Training on health and safety responsibilities was introduced for all board directors.

The results (and the benefits):
The board provided a role model for health and safety behaviour that resulted in:
-    17% reduction in sickness absence;
-    28% reduction in reportable incidents;
-    Improved morale and pride in working for the company; and
-    Raising the profile of health and safety so it is becoming embedded in the culture of the organisation.

When it comes to risk assessment, a bad example comes from a story Hse.gov.uk shares about a company and its officers who were fined a total of £245,000 and ordered to pay costs of £75,500 at Crown Court in relation to the removal of asbestos. The company employed ten, mostly young, temporary workers who were never trained or equipped to safely remove the asbestos, nor warned of its risk. The directors were also disqualified from holding any company directorship for two years and one year respectively.

Revisit the list of examples, if you feel like it, and make sure you keep in mind the importance of a fair and successful perspective and procedure when you talk about health and safety!

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