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Why health, safety and wellbeing are like chocolate biscuits…..

  • 15 February 2019 - 12:36

    Have you ever heard that before? I hadn’t until I met a guy called Harvey Hardman. I started working with him when Pioneer and Hanson merged in the late 1990s early 2000s.

    We used to chat a lot about how to sell the health, safety and wellbeing message and he used to say health and safety is like a chocolate biscuit. It can come in many different shapes, sizes and colours and wrappers but in general they all taste the same...

    So what does that mean?

    The point that he was making then, and which I want to make now, is that there is no problem with how you wrap up the health and safety message as long as you have a consistent aim. It’s about having a clear direction on what you want to achieve in the workplace and where health, safety and wellbeing fit in the overall scheme for your business.

    Some organisations want to be the best in the world, some want to be the best in sector, some want to just comply and unfortunately some just don’t care. I can’t condone the last but there is nothing wrong in finding your place above compliance.

    What is important is that you are realistic about what you want to achieve, believe in it and be consistent. 

    And once you have decided on where you want to be then be honest with your workforce. If there isn’t a bottomless pit of money then don’t promise it. You may not have the resources available to move really fast with improvements so work at a pace that is delivering benefits in a realistic timescale (but always with the caveat of at least complying with the law…). There is nothing wrong in saying no to ideas from your workforce as long as you can back it up with good reasoning. What is wrong, is just to say nothing and ignore them.

    Focus on the following three areas will be a great start:

    • Equipment – Can it be improved; Can it be easily inspected and maintained and, if so, is it well maintained?
    • Procedures – Are they relevant to the risks you face in the workplace; Are they easy to interpret; Are they understood by the people who do the work? 
    • People – Do they understand and believe in your aims and objectives; Are they competent to undertake the tasks and use the equipment; Do they show the right attitude and behaviours?

    Be creative with how you try to sell the health, safety and wellbeing message. 

    I have seen great use of street graffiti (messages on the floor rather than the notice board), podcasts and webinars. And mobile phones are now such a huge part of everyday life that, in a controlled environment, they can be used with great effect via WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

    In summary

    • Involve the workforce when establishing your strategy.
    • Set realistic aims and objectives.
    • Keep the messages simple, straightforward and consistent.
    • And use modern techniques to get the message over.

    If you need help establishing the direction you want to take health and safety in your workplace and would like a chat then please drop me a line at [email protected] or call 07799 656303


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