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Involve individuals in safety with a meaningful purpose.


As far as I'm concerned, and as per my experience and background, I'd say that to reduce accidents in the workplace and break through the "glass ceiling" that exists in many industries, we first need to give meaning to safety, and prevent it from being seen as a constraint that "costs but doesn't pay off".


This vision needs to be taken to the highest levels of the organization in order to "drive" and convince as many people as possible, and this often begins with a diagnosis of the company's current situation.


It has to be said that OHS is very often strongly influenced/incentivized by the principle of criminal (and even civil) liability, by pressure from IRPs and by the cost to the company of accidents. These three "influencing" factors, which are also understandable, are not part of a high value-added dynamic on these subjects, because starting from the premise that "not doing safety can cost us dearly" does not create the breeding ground for sustainable safety shared by the whole team.


How can we do better?

What is the variable for progress?


I'd say we first need to change the paradigm and ask the question differently; for example, what can a good level of safety bring to the company? By creating the conditions inherent in the answers to this question, we give meaning and weight to the approach, which has the main virtue of engaging the greatest number of people. It's also a good idea to ask the group about its vision of safety, its expectations, how it perceives safety, what it thinks could be done better, and what difficulties it encounters on a day-to-day basis, so that lessons can be learned and appropriate tools, training and approaches put in place, while transforming words into concrete, visible action.

 

Training is essential, but it must have the "right" content and the "right" form, especially in OHS. It needs to be participative, involving as many people as possible, while giving meaning to the process through a sincere, appropriate and clear approach. When properly carried out, it also helps to prevent risks by raising awareness and involving staff, right up to the development of certain parts/workshops of the training. Training is a key element in ensuring employee safety in the workplace. They must aim to make employees and employers aware of the risks associated with their working environment, and to promote safe practices that comply with current regulations. These initiatives must be taken to the highest level, with the will of all concerned and the resources allocated accordingly.

 

A "right culture" is still essential to progress in safety, yet it is not the norm in many industries, due to the changes in philosophy it imposes, the cost it represents, and the time it takes to reach "maturity point" with visible effects, particularly in terms of organizational silence. However, for any employee, it is reassuring to be able to anticipate his or her hierarchy's reaction in the event of initiative or error, and this also helps to maintain a good awareness of risk within the workgroup. To achieve this, it is necessary to establish golden rules that must not be crossed, to recognize positive contributions, to have a fair and equitable sanctions policy, and to create the conditions of trust that will enable people to speak out. To succeed in this approach, it is also essential to facilitate the conditions for dialogue between management and employees, and to enable co-construction at every stage, since a just culture, which has more than beneficial effects in OHS, also has an enormous contribution to make to the smooth running of the organization.

 

In conclusion, in all our current and future initiatives, the key is to consider people as a positive and essential variable for progress, and not as a constraint: in my opinion, this is how we will continue to reduce accidents in the workplace.

 

"We've spent over fifty years looking after the equipment, which is now fairly reliable; now it's time to look after the people." - Admiral Donald Engen

 

 

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