What do you think the rest of your company say about you ? About your HSE department ? What do they think of health and safety in general ?
Do you feel comfortable pondering the above questions ? Or do you think that the answers could be negative ?
It is widely acknowledged that health and safety, as a general subject, has suffered a serious PR image problem the world over. In countries where health and safety has been long time ingrained there has been an attitude and public perception that it has gone too far; that it has become overbearing, heavy handed and an unnecessary impedance to working tasks. In countries where a culture of HSE is perhaps not so well developed; companies and employees alike may struggle to see understand the true value of safety, have a “why bother ?’ attitude, or perhaps worse, see it as an unnecessary waste of time and effort, assault on profit and expedient operations.
The good news is that attitudes in general are changing as safety becomes the norm. There is also a worldwide cultural shift with a younger generation growing up with an expectation of risk assessments and safety being built into both their everyday and working life. The attitude of “just get on with it” whatever the circumstances, which was sometimes seen in older generations of a workforce is dying out.
Improvements have largely been seen in the way that mainstream media has portrayed health and safety but there is still a long way to go and many issues need addressing. We cant change the world but as HSE professionals we can change ourselves !
Where to Start ?
From my many years of working in health and safety and the multitude of HSE individuals that I have encountered I feel that many professionals focus heavily on technical skills. Whilst of course an essential and crucial discipline, the reality is that a far more rounded skillset is best. Ask yourself, “when was the last time I reflected on the strength of my soft skills, developed them further or attended a training course ?” An outstanding health and safety professional is one who is viewed as such and projects an excellent image of both themselves and the industry by applying their collection of exemplary soft skills. Yes, in HSE you need it all !
Soft Skills Needed
Health and safety is ALL about people skills. Think of every aspect of your job and the interpersonal elements needed within; negotiation, empathy, communication, emotional intelligence, conflict management… I could go on !
As a starter, it is essential that your company and fellow colleagues, both in your own and/or other departments, have trust in what you say. To build up and achieve the required level of trust a deep understanding of them firstly is required. Have you thought out your messaging from their perspective ? Have you walked in their shoes ? Understood their job, challenges and their work ? Really listened to their feedback ? Good communication and listening skills will both enable you to take on board their concerns and then allow you to communicate effectively and get people on board with your message and guidance. This in turn will help to create a positive culture allowing employees, peers and colleagues to feel comfortable in reporting incidents to you and offering feedback on your initiatives. The output of which will be a deeper respect and the holding of your function and remit in higher esteem.
How to effectively communicate your value
Modern health and safety professionals and consultants are also able to communicate the value that they add to business. For many companies the achievement of compliance is no longer enough and in many businesses demand is high for HSE individuals with demonstrable commercial astuteness. If you feel that this is something that you could work on further I have written past blogs which focus on showing ROI in health and safety projects and securing HSE budget. Perhaps a re-read of these may help to point you in the right direction to gain further understanding on the financial business considerations and how to make them work for you. Don’t forget that the bottom line is profit is the primary reason for the operation of any business !
Corporate OHS is a UAE based Health and Safety Consultancy whose HSE Consultants offer expert resources and superior performance to give you greater results.
We specialize in creating workable, user friendly solutions aligned to your business activities, operations and budget.
Our range of health and safety consultancy services includes;
- Risk assessments
- Hazard identification and control measure implementation
- Gap Analysis and audits
- HSE management system development, implementation and review including locally compliant systems such as OSHAD and/or accredited systems such as ISO 45001, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001
- HSE legal compliance reviews and assistance
- Accident investigations
- Business continuity and crisis management
- Long term or project based HSE outsourcing
- Monthly retainers