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How to Lead a 2020 WHS Policies and Procedures Revival (Part 1)

Posted by Andrew Watters on

Let's face it; safety can be boring. WHS policies and procedures can become routine. Life-saving behaviours can become mundane - and then things get dangerous. Fast! So why not take advantage of the new-year-feel and start a revival? You could get a tent and a preacher, but that's not the revival we're talking about. Instead, try our five simple strategies to inject vitality into your team's OHS procedures.

The fresh-start feel of a new year suits such a goal. We'd like to help you do that. In this article, we'll look at our first two suggestions. In the next, we'll unpack the three remaining revival strategies.

Why a Revival?

A revival is an event; it has both a start and an end. But where there was no life, life has returned - and after the revival has passed, vitality lives on. What we're suggesting here is not best suited to application all year-round. These actions are not like breathing; they're more like poolside mouth-to-mouth, where a life-saving intervention brings back whatever, and whoever was lost.

But can you spark a revival? Can you intervene and bring what was dead (or dying) back to life? We believe you can!

You can take advantage of this season to:

  1. Enhance top-down, down-up and peer-to-peer relationships.
  2. Increase understanding of your most important OHS procedures,
  3. Empower and reward compliance with your systems.
  4. Improve your workers’ attitudes toward safety.

Here's Five Simple Safety Management System Interventions

You can improve your safety management system by employing these five simple suggestions.

We'll explain each strategy by applying it to our WHS Management Systems, just to show you that safety really can be used in a practical and relevant way.

The five intervention strategies (and revival keys) include:

  1. Demonstrate integrity when implementing your safety management system.
  2. Connect a worthy purpose to your WHS policies and procedures.
  3. Fuel your safety management system by showing that somebody cares.
  4. Advocate for your procedures as well as your people.
  5. Respect humility and humanity to improve your OHS procedures. 

In this article, we'll unpack interventions one and two.

Here's a Spark: Our WHS Management Systems are 20% Off

To help you take advantage of the new-year potential, we announced a 'New Year 20' incentive sale. Until midnight 31st March, you can enjoy a 20% discount on all:

Enter 'NY20' at the checkout and your savings will be applied.

As always, if something stirs a question or you'd like more specific assistance, you can phone 1800 304 336 and almost always have an immediate connection with an expert. We're here to help.

Now, let's get into these intervention opportunities.

Intervention 1:

Demonstrate Integrity When Implementing Your Safety Management System

Integrity is increasingly rare nowadays. Being lied to, misinformed and manipulated is routine for most of us; so much so, that even simple acts of integrity stand out. It doesn't take a lot to be exceptional.

This means that if you can lead your worksite in a way that presents you as believable and integrity driven, everyone will be better off. The overall level of workplace integrity will then lift, and every dimension of your operations will benefit.

Of course, you could merely pretend to be honest and professional, but manufactured integrity is ultimately self-defeating. Firstly, you know you're faking it. Secondly, there will be others who know it too. Thirdly, if you get caught while faking it, you'll be branded as worse than a fraud. The stench of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and a lack of integrity is hard to lose. It's better to be honest.

Consider making this a month when you and your leaders intentionally improve in one or more areas of integrity and truth - especially where truth is inconvenient.

Conduct a High-Altitude WHS Integrity Review

Take a slow look through your big-picture policies and procedures. The goal is to find something you can publicly correct in the spirit of new year beginnings. Look through your existing resources, as well as the policies, procedures and resources that we make available.

Remember, your goal is to identify an area (or areas) where you can publicly lift the integrity levels of your professionalism and your worksite.

Locate this issue by looking over high-altitude (or big picture items). This way, you're more likely to find a problem with wide-ranging effects. Cast a comprehensive eye to assessing the integrity and see what you find.

Possible focus areas:

  1. WHS Policies (in general)
  2. Quality Management
  3. Workplace Consultation
  4. Organisational Structure
  5. Management and other position roles
  6. Environmental Management
  7. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
  8. Disciplinary Procedures and Counselling

Make it Personal and Make it About People

Whether you've identified issues or not, you might now consider answering the following 'focus' questions. Designed to draw out issues that otherwise might remain hidden, they are hard-hitting and potentially painful. Few people are honest enough to ask the questions, let alone answer them. There is, however, a valuable prize on offer.

As you consider these questions, start by looking at yourself, and then work down through your leaders.

  1. As a general rule, do I say what works better for me, rather than what is true?
  2. Is there something I know is inconvenient to say, but it should be said, and I can say it?
  3. Do my WHS meetings and discussions embody and encourage truth?
  4. Do I model self-protective lying (and therefore encourage the same from my team)?
  5. Do our WHS procedures pass the buck? Do we model the avoidance of responsibility rather than acceptance of it?
  6. Does our safety management system encourage and facilitate open and honest communication? Being left in the dark is an enormous demotivator and resentment stirrer. Being silenced has the same effect.
  7. Do you have a means of recognising and publicly acknowledging integrity in safety?

Sparking the Revival

If, after using these questions, you can't find even one issue or failing to address publicly, you must be running a pretty tight ship. Congratulations! If you did find shortcomings, you can now deliberately and openly do something to turn these deficits around.

It's hard to offer specific suggestions here. Worksites and businesses vary so much, but casting your eyes over such issues can lead you into massive opportunities.

Be rigorous and soul searching. Find something to fix. Do this with integrity, be seen - and spark an integrity revival.

Intervention 2:

Connect a Worthy Purpose to Your WHS Policies and Procedures?

Without a purpose that is worthy of pursuit, people typically don't commit to OHS procedures. People need a reason. We all do. In every field of endeavour, motivation is core to human performance.

As you begin this new year, can you find a purpose worth pursuing? Can you use such a focus to spark a revival?

Is Profitability a Motivator?

Profit might work as an incentive, but it's unlikely to be effective. Workers typically use profit as justification for cutting corners on safety, not as an incentive to follow procedures. They'll tell you they're saving time and money - but they're not.

On first appearances, OHS procedures and safety management systems seem to reduce profit; but that's rarely the case. Quality Sales Training helps boost profit whereas OHS procedures help protect that profit.

In the long run, effectively administered OHS procedures do increase profitability. Every time OHS procedures stop an incident, injury, site shutdown, legislative breach or insurance penalty, your profit margin increases. Sure, you don't see the accident that didn't happen, or the penalty you did not receive - but you did save that dollar amount.

Safety management improves the bottom line. It really does! But the question is, are your workers motivated by profit or shareholder distributions? The answer is probably not.

We need to look for a higher purpose.

Finding Issues of the Heart?

Human beings interpret their environment based on the meanings they attach. In other words, what a person sees, and what a person thinks, is a very personal thing. If you can help your workers to interpret OHS procedures as necessary, you're well on your way.

One way to do this is to suggest the meanings that workers attach to safety systems. We might even help them connect interpretations (psychological attachments) they might not already have. For example, one worker believes putting on his safety harness is an annoyance; another worker does not. The first worker has yet to see someone fall from a height; the second saw a 17-year-old apprentice fall and suffer brain and spinal damage.

The same harness can stir very different meanings.

So what meanings can you attach to safety?

Your environment and staff will influence your options here, but there are some universally heart-pulling themes you might try communicating.

  1. Worthy Causes: Can you raise funds for a worthy charity? For example, for every day without incident, you might donate a set amount to one of the many RFS Bushfire Appeals.
  2. Children and Parenting: Can you connect family and parenting to the workplace? The "My Daddy Works Here" campaign did just that! It encouraged workers to correct each other by tapping into fatherhood, children, and the responsibilities we share as part of a particular child's community.
  3. Local Needs: We tend to be more motivated by needs and efforts that serve those who live and work near us. Can you attach care for those nearby to the issue of safety?
  4. Immediate Needs: We're more motivated (especially the men) by activities that have a clear purpose and an end date.  

To connect a worthy purpose to your WHS policies and procedures, ask yourself:

  1. How can your training, toolbox talks, inductions and even competency reviews be enriched with poignant 'worthy purpose' phrases and images?
  2. Could 'My Daddy Works Here' signs work for your workplace? If so, you can get signs like these here (and I'm not getting a commission).
  3. What else can you do to promote an immediate and compelling reason?
  4. When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with someone about how they work, or why safety is important to them? You might be surprised by what you learn.

Find a purpose your workers can connect with, connect (or attach) it to your WHS policies and procedures, and spark an integrity revival.

Extra Help for Your Revival

As mentioned earlier, to help you spark your revival, we've announced a New Year 2020 Incentive Sale. So, until midnight 31st March, you can enjoy a 20% discount on all:

To enjoy the discount, purchase before the end of March, enter 'NY20' at the checkout and benefit from the significant saving.

In the next article, we'll unpack the remaining three interventions. Between now and then, consider implementing the strategies we've explained:

  1. Demonstrate integrity when implementing your safety management system. Be rigorous and soul searching. Find something to fix. Then fix it with an eye to integrity, whilst being seen to be doing so. Lead in this way, and you’ll probably spark an integrity revival.
  2. Connect a worthy purpose to your WHS policies and procedures. Find a purpose your workers can connect with, create the attachment.

Implement these two intervention strategies during the next month, and you should spark a revival in your worker's safety management system compliance.

If you'd like further assistance with anything, or you have specific or unique needs to address, give us a call on 1800 304 336. A WHS expert always answers your call, and if not, you'll be speaking with one soon after. If you'd prefer, we can also call you. Simply request a callback here.

We look forward to helping you spark a revival!

--> Click here to continue to Part 2 of this article <--


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