Safety in a Lightning Fast, Ever-Changing Environment
Around 2500 years ago, a quite provocative yet accurate quote was made by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "change is the only constant in life."
Over the last year and a half, we have witnessed in our homes, our workforce, and world that Heraclitus's statement has proven to be true. In most cases, change occurs, and we don't think much about it, but every once-in-a-while a change arises that throws everything off kilter.
Let's consider the workplace for example. During this time, we have seen the workplace shift to homes, new controls have been implemented in various organizations, and a more focused approach to "off the job" health and safety has been made. Additionally, new ways of defining and implementing health & safety processes have been undertaken. Therefore, we must be adaptable and prepared for a lightning-fast, ever-changing environment.
As health and safety professionals, we are constantly on the move trying to determine various ways to keep the workplace, and our workers, healthy and safe every day. We strive to uncover new ideas for employee engagement, easier ways to streamline and implement processes, spend more time out in the workplace, and ultimately add overall value, while still performing our "must do's" for the job. With that in mind, how do we truly make positive improvements in the workplace? More importantly, how do we implement these improvements for our employees?
Let's take a moment to think about the workplace (environment, people, machines, and outside influences) as a ship in the ocean. When seafarers of the past would cross the ocean, there were a plethora of outside influences (aka hazards) which could lead to massive failures. To say risks were present at every corner would truly be an understatement. Sailors had to know their respective jobs and successfully perform those jobs while maintaining awareness of their surroundings and the hazards present. Captains had to know the routes, and more importantly, know how to navigate the ever-changing water, weather, and general unforeseen circumstances, while ensuring the workers were following suit. They used everything at their disposal to ensure hazardous situations were mitigated and the overall job was successful.
Similarly, as health and safety leaders, why would we not strive to do the same thing? There is an overabundance of actions we can do to mitigate hazards regularly. There are technologies at our disposal, new processes we can streamline and implement, methods of improving employee participation and morale, and techniques we can instill in our daily activities. All these elements can create a culture of learning, while proving that safety and health doesn't cost, it pays.
Making health and safety a value-add, and priority, allows all levels within the organization to have a desire to improve and continue moving forward. Upper-level management must empower the workforce to think of health and safety in all aspects, while front-line workers understand the importance and practice health and safety in everything they do. In other words, it's fluid throughout.
Continuing with the thought of improving our workplaces, and all that entails; take a few moments to reflect on where the organization is on its "journey." A crucial piece is spending time with upper-level management, and helping them understand the importance of what is occurring in the workplace. Help them comprehend that if you have created buy-in, if your processes/policies are in place, if health and safety is something you truly practice daily, then maybe it's time to use software to alleviate some of the administration burden. Furthermore, this same technology can create and enable everyone to "have a voice" and report on what they see. This is just one facet that can open multiple, positive doors for improvement.
We have covered a few topics that will hopefully, help you gain valuable retrospective insight into what is happening around your own workplace. However, just when you believe you have understood the facets which exist in your own organizational culture, a global pandemic, a massive fire, or a large failure may just be around the corner. So always be ready, fixated on understanding that change is "normal" and keep it simple. Incidents are most likely going to happen, but if you continue to think ahead and utilize different opportunities for minimizing risks, you're taking the appropriate steps to ensure health and safety is engrained within your organization.
About SHE Software
SHE Software is a global technology company transforming the way employees engage in workplace health and safety. Its market leading solution, Assure, is used by more than 350 customers in North America, Europe and Australasia across a wide range of industries. SHE Software's intuitive, mobile first application fosters worker participation, guiding frontline activities while capturing rich data to help prioritize safety and operational improvements and ensure compliance. Ease of deployment and resulting swift customer impact drive SHE Software's rapid multi-year growth. Contact us to request a demo today!
About the Author
Mr. Dement is a Certified Safety Professional and an Associate Ergonomics Practitioner. He has is a member of the American Society of Safety Professionals and the American Industrial Hygiene Association. He has presented nationally and internationally on culture transformation, the importance of incident management, and job hazard analysis.