Health and safety professionals are skilled at profiling health and safety risks and deciding on preventative and protective measures. They can instruct the workforce of the policies and monitor and report to ensure a safe working environment for all. But health and safety professionals also have a role in managing upwards, ensuring that the senior leadership team of an organisation fully appreciates and clearly understands the policies too.
Senior leaders need to walk the talk
Leading by example is a crucial way to embed safe behaviours throughout an organisation. If the senior leadership team aren’t practising what they preach when it comes to health and safety, how can they expect employees to do so? Walking the talk means being aware of risks, understanding the measures in place to mitigate them and putting them into practice at all times, including taking any necessary safety precautions and wearing protective clothing and PPE wherever and whenever required.
However, leaders should be encouraged to go beyond simply adhering to the rules. They should proactively promote a safety-first culture, attending safety meetings and being part of the induction meetings of recruits, setting high safety expectations from Day 1. A productive working relationship between health and safety managers and the board is crucial to avoid futile health and safety efforts.
Getting the board onside
In 2018, Craig Foyle, president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) urged health and safety professionals to gain “a full understanding of how a business works and… speak the language of the boardroom”, believing such skills to be critical to influencing decision-makers at the highest level. Advice for health and safety professionals looking to get their voices heard at board level is to consider:
- Learning business acumen and boardroom language, which can help health and safety professionals to better communicate their technical know-how to senior leadership.
- Improving health and safety reporting standards to help boards understand health and safety initiatives and secure their buy-in and support.
- Adopting transparent and precise communication that will help boards understand that investing in good health and safety can improve productivity, reduce absences and motivate employees, as well as reduce accidents at work.
- Rephrasing indiscernible ‘safety lingo’ into simpler language that non-technical specialists can understand, resulting in faster decision making and buy-in from boards.
Learning to ‘manage upwards’
The requirement for health and safety officers to improve their wider business skills to make their voices heard at board level is being addressed by IOSH, with comprehensive training courses to help health and safety professionals upskill. Other Professional Development courses specifically address how to communicate with boards and influence crucial policies.
Additionally, those health and safety managers who have formed a partnership relationship with an established and reputable supplier of PPE and protective clothing will find that they have a knowledgeable, reliable and trusted source of advice and guidance when it comes to making the case for health and safety at boardroom level.
Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.
The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.