Michelle Pitkin, CMIOSH, Compliance Officer Nottingham Girls High School and Chair at the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Fire Risk Management Group and IOSH Council Member, provides ATF Professional with her thoughts on going beyond box ticking and what this means for compliance for premises that include ATFs.
We all know that meeting legislation is morally and financially the right thing to do and that if we don’t, it can lead to human errors, reputational damage and financial loss.
Every piece of legislation requires us ‘to do’ something, be it filling in a form, putting a procedure in place or writing a risk assessment; each of these elements can be seen as a control measure, but how do we know that they are really working and that they are being followed. We need to stop thinking of safety or compliance as a bolt-on or another thing on our ‘to-do’ list.
The HSE guide: An introduction to managing for health and safety (indg275), summaries the requirements set out within Managing for health and safety (HSG65). Both documents refer to the ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ method.
As part of the ‘checking’ element, leaders of an organisation need to understand the risks faced by their workers, and they need to engage and collaborate with them to understand this. What better way to do this than by spending on the shop floor, talking to, learning and engaging with the workforce or a simple walk of the works?
“At its most effective, full involvement of your workforce creates a culture where relationships between employers and employees are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem-solving. Employees are involved in assessing workplace risks and the development and review of workplace health and safety policies in partnership with the employer” (taken from indg275).
Ask yourself, do you really need a checklist, or can it be done another way? Move away from the checklist and go for a walk. Engage with the workforce and have an honest and open conversation. Ask them:
- What they are doing?
- Why are they doing it that way?
- Should they be doing it that way?
- What training have they had to know how to do the task?
- What support do they have?
- Do they have any problems, if they do, ask them what their ideas and thoughts are to overcome the issues. Empower the team to share their concerns, their thoughts and ideas. Take them on board, and where you can follow them up, but if this is not possible, always give feedback.
Walk the works. Are things as they should be? Think about:
- Traffic management
- Waste management
- Storage- general and hazardous
- PPE management
On both accounts, don’t just look for poor practices, look for and reinforce positive practices and actions. Where an action is required if you can look to resolve it at the time.
Like an audit, a ‘tick box’ is only a reflection of what was in place at that time, this is why a process which keeps things consistent and able to be embedded into day-to-day working is key.
The simple practices are more likely to succeed than those which are long-winded and take up copious amounts of time from our working day, we are all busy. Procedures, policies and processes change- continuous checks to ensure that employees are aware of organisation expectations and requirements.
Although we do not want to create more paperwork, you may want to record your observations, both positive and those which require a follow-up. A simple form such as a Walk the Works can be used.
See Michelle’s previous articles on ATF Professional: