Safety: A moral imperative to do the right thing

Published:  25 June, 2024

By Stephen Phipson CBE, Make UK CEO: The most important responsibility a company has is to ensure that its people and environment are kept safe from harm. This is not just simply a box ticking exercise to comply with the law and, avoid potential prosecution, but a moral imperative to ‘do the right thing’ by employees and the working environment.

Effective environmental, health & safety (EHS) performance within an organisation comes from the top. Senior leaders have both collective and personal responsibility for EHS and developing a positive workplace culture from the top down. Put simply, EHS initiatives that don’t have the full and active support of senior leaders who own it and drive it through the organisation are doomed to failure.

Rather than looking at EHS initiatives as ‘we’ll send you on a training course’ the best companies take a far more holistic approach which looks at a training programme at three levels and, which benefits people at all levels of the organisation. These are leadership, competency and compliance.

Leadership ensures that any senior management team has a buy in and becomes an asset rather than an obstacle to organisational change. To get your senior team on board you need to demonstrate why they should care and then give them the tools to do something about it, not just off-the-shelf training. Additionally, leaders need to make tangible commitments and measure success.

Competence is described as having “sufficient training & experience or knowledge & other qualities” which comes from a variety of sources. For EHS practitioners this is likely to comes from qualifications provided by organisations such as the Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) or the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Both of these organisations provide resources and tools, research and knowledge sharing along with training and qualifications to meet the real-world needs of employees.

Finally, compliance training is a crucial type of training needed to inform employees of an organisation’s regulations, policies, or adherence to laws. Compliance training is often mandatory for employees because it serves to protect an organisation’s values, policies, and commitment to the law. Such training could include data and cyber security, data protection and GDPR, basic health and safety training, environmental management, and anti-bullying.

By following these three guiding principles, organisations can make a very real difference to their workplace culture and, not just keep their people and environment safe from harm, but make a real difference to their performance.

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