Theory into practice: operational safety pledges

 

At its best, OSH management is a remarkable mixture of the inspirational and the technical, with its head in the open sky of organisational psychology and leadership theory and its feet on the solid ground of keeping the human body apart from forces it can’t tolerate.

In our last article highlighting some of the pledges and ideas OSH practitioners have offered on the One Percent Safer movement’s website, we showcased commitments to be better listeners and leaders, engaging with others and understanding their needs rather than basing risk assessments and controls on work observed from a distance.

But among the many contributions there were also those that offer concrete examples of risk control, often concentrating on the most hazardous work activities. Fethi Mecheri, HSE Senior Manager at Baker Hughes, Algeria, picked the one that cuts across manufacturing and service organisations, accounting for the greatest number of deaths and serious injuries, but in some jurisdictions – such as the UK – still left out of the industrial accident statistics. This is driving for work.

“I will stand up, I will speak up, I will say something and share my knowledge about driving and how 10 km/h less will reduce the chance of accidents, and I will start with myself and demonstrate to and influence my entourage to become safer,” pledged Fethi.

Graham Twigg, HS&E Business Partner at Bombardier Transportation UK, offered his company’s system for ensuring equipment is safe to use. “We are trying to make it easier for staff to take personal responsibility and influence others,” said Graham. “A good example is our pre-use checks of equipment which have changed from filling a form out and trying to maintain the records, to attaching a carbonated pad to the equipment and now leasing more suitable, safer equipment with the pre-use check recorded electronically every time you try to swipe in to use it. The same type of system can be retrofitted to a crane, for example, to enable the equipment only to be operated by trained staff and to digitally record pre-use checks.”

One of the common misconceptions in OSH management has been that documenting risks and controls has some magic prophylactic power in itself. But written assessments and method statements are only as effective as the people who have read and are following them, otherwise they are just wasted ink. Carolyn Moore, a Command Safety Manager in the Australian armed forces, picked up on this point in her pledge: “I will be more active in my circle of influence to challenge beliefs- and to stop ‘accepting’, starting with clutter. If the paperwork is not contributing to safer outcomes, versus some ‘evidence’ of work, then it will be challenged to free people to do the work and stop writing about it.”

You can see all the ideas and pledges to help make the working world one percent safer scrolling at the bottom of the page here. Why not submit your own idea and join the movement?