Safety – Is this “Word on the Nose”?

Safety – “On the Nose” – Integrated or Separate

There is a definite push to get back to management basics and recognise that managers from supervisors upwards have several interrelated business responsibilities including:

  • Management of OHS Risk and prevention of employees being injured
  • Ensuring the business remains viable
  • The business is socially responsible
  • The business makes a dollar or two.

The deliberate and visible separation of “Safety” away from these responsibilities has swung the management pendulum too far from the centre through outsourcing in-field safety management to OHS support personnel; causing significant increase in time and costs, frustration and confusion to employees and managers and losing the ability to anticipate and manage low probability high risk potential incidents.

I will coin the term “Zero Harmists” – We have had this cloak smothering us for too long. The workforce is wise to the reality of actions and inactions, versus words, mission statements, values and symbols and are cynical – they regard “Zero Harm” as the biggest con job in town and they are not the ones being conned.

A classic example of “Removing Safety Responsibilities” away from direct supervisors and superintendents was a large construction project in the Pilbara where we employed sixteen safety advisers for a workforce of 800 employees and the expectation of the Construction Manager was for safety advisers to manage site safety. This “Tick Box” commitment impressed the client – but what was the message to the most important customer –  the workforce.

The current economic climate in Western Australia is forcing construction and mining businesses to rebalance themselves and have cost effective safety management systems, processes and appropriate resourcing which are integrated into the business – they want to survive and thrive.

It is not smart or acceptable for employers to have the employees who are motivated to “Leave their brains at the Gate” when they enter the workplace.

  • Employers need to engage with their employees and contractors to flush out and encourage the ideas and innovations that exist in their own backyard.
  • Employers need to recognise and promote talent that already exists in their organisation.

If you want to get a handle on individual managers and the underlying organisational culture (including safety) – talk to those persons who are taken for granted and not seen by others. They see all and have a view – these include administration and cleaning staff.

Safety does not need to be “On the Nose” – bring it into the fold of direct line management responsibilities and reduce the reliance on “Support Personnel”

ExtraCan you spot the hazard contained in the photograph?