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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
April 26, 2012

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Five steps to banish a blame culture

Research carried out recently on behalf of the Forklift Truck Association suggests that around 75 per cent of employees in the materials-handling sector believe there are ‘accidents waiting to happen’ in the industry.
Materials-handling service provider Briggs Equipment believes the research is evidence that companies should be doing more to encourage workers to speak up about health and safety issues. Said the company’s CEO, Richard Close: “Everybody is responsible for health and safety but, too often, there is a perception of blame attached to reporting an incident – or worse – apathy.
“The culture of a business makes a big impact on whether operators actively look to report and resolve health and safety issues, or simply just ignore them.”
Briggs has identified the following five simple tips to reduce the impact of a ‘blame culture’ and help encourage operators to raise problems with management:

  1. Make it easy to report an issue – companies should make sure there is one central person who coordinates health and safety and inform operators of the way they should report matters.
  2. Make it anonymous – having a simple printed card and a drop box is a quick and easy way for staff to voice concerns anonymously, while also providing a documentation trail for company records. 
  3. Make it worthwhile – a small reward, a voucher, or a free lunch for the month/quarter is something that may just tip the balance between whether operators report a health and safety issue, or not.
  4. Make it happen – if operators are reporting issues and see no action being taken, they will stop bothering to report them. When an issue is reported, declare it and put a timescale on it. When it has been investigated, share the results. Whether the status quo remains, or changes need to happen, always explain the decision taken.
  5. Two little words – thanking operators is the most simple and effective way of ensuring that they will keep doing the right thing. If your company has an internal newsletter, consider a section highlighting the good work. If people see their name in print it raises their self-esteem, and possibly their profile among their peers, which helps encourage others. In a smaller company, a section of a notice board could do the same thing just as effectively.

Summing up the benefits that these actions can bring, Close added: “These five simple, cheap processes take just a little planning by management and just a little commitment to keep going. However, they can bring huge rewards by reducing accidents and damage bills that far outweigh their minimal cost.”

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