HSE at work - safety culture tips blog article

HSE at Work: How to improve your safety culture

HSE at work: Tips on how to improve your safety culture

HSE stands for Health, Safety, and Environment. Some industries refer to this as SHEQ instead of HSE, the additional Q is for Quality.

The focus is on the health and safety of people and the environment. HSE is used by companies to keep their shareholders, employees, and visitors safe, and promote the health and well-being of their workforce and the preservation of the environment.

If you’re reading this, you’re either a company leader, an HSE officer or a concerned employee. But so long as you’re looking to find actionable steps towards making your workplace a safer and healthier environment, we’re here to help. We’ve found that companies achieve their goals when the culture is aligned with those goals, the same holds for health and safety.

We’re encouraging companies in all sectors, but especially those in sectors with many potential physical and health hazards present such as mining and construction, to make health and safety a part of their organisational culture. Profit and productivity can no longer be the only objectives leaders strive for, not with the current and future socio-economic climate, environmental deterioration, and evolving employee values.

Here’s how to make that happen in 2023:

Get an HSE Officer and HSE team

Depending on your talent and their skillset and qualifications, your company might need to hire an HSE officer or manager whose main purpose is to improve health and safety. This experienced and qualified professional will be able to identify safety hazards, and opportunities for HSE improvement and can also train your staff on the relevant best practices and procedures. More HSE representatives can be encouraged to volunteer and work alongside the HSE Officer to bring about change.

Hiring a health and safety professional also lets your workforce and stakeholders know that HSE is a huge priority for the company. Remember, what leaders invest in shows employees what the company finds important which forms a part of the culture.

Perform a risk assessment

Once you’ve hired an HSE officer, they need to thoroughly analyse the current state of the company. They will be able to identify hazards and risks that need to be addressed and come up with solutions on how these can be addressed. The HSE team will work together with the other functions of the company such as communications and HR. All hands need to be on deck to ensure that the company is a safe environment for employees.

After the HSE professional or HSE team identifies hazards and risks and looks at the company’s past accidents, fatalities and negligence, ways to improve safety can be discussed and then implemented.

"All hands need to be on deck to ensure that the company is a safe environment for employees."

HSE at Work tips with a man wearing safety gloves

Set specific HSE at work goals

You know how specific your company is with how many sales you need to make? The same sense of urgency, specific timelines and plans of action need to be applied to the health and safety goals. A mining company should not be applying pressure on the workers on the ground to be productive while failing to keep them safe and provide the necessary safety gear, equipment, procedures, and training.

All companies need to have HSE goals and a plan on how these goals will be reached. Get your employees involved too! As the people who have worked in the industry, you’d be surprised at how many ideas they have on how to make the environment and work safer for all.

When it comes to the health and well-being of the workforce, HR also needs to get more intentional. How are you prioritising the physical and mental health of employees? How stressed is your workforce? Are you educating staff on how to keep themselves healthy for work? If you struggled to answer these questions, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Hiring a health and safety professional also lets your workforce and stakeholders know that HSE is a huge priority for the company. Remember, what leaders invest in shows employees what the company finds important which forms a part of the culture.

Analyse common hazards and health and environmental issues

It’s an important task to analyse the common HSE issues in your organisation as this will help you know which areas to focus on. Maybe workers digging in a certain part of the mine are always coughing after working there, or there have been slipping and falling accidents reported in the same section. Analysing hazards will help your company find patterns and know exactly which issues need to be addressed and in which order.

The same goes for health and well-being. Are your employees always getting colds and flu? Maybe the office interior design needs to be spaced out more, and maybe employees need to be educated on the importance of washing their hands and sanitizing, especially after experiencing Covid 19. If leaders are always complaining about high levels of stress or anxiety, maybe the culture needs to be changed, and all employees need to be educated on how to better manage their time.

Educate and train staff continuously

This is non-negotiable. You have the responsibility to empower your staff in terms of education and knowledge. If HSE is a priority for your company because it affects every other facet of the organisation, then your staff needs to be on board. Toolbox talks are a great way to teach your employees about how to stay safe and why they need to report any potential hazards they identify straight away.

Educating your staff on how to stay healthy through campaigns, posters and during meetings is the responsibility of leaders in partnership with the HR and Communications departments. Running mental health awareness campaign, or even a campaign on how to stay fit for work are great ways to empower your employees.

If your company doesn’t have the capacity to achieve this, we advise you to work with an external marketing and comms partner equipped with the skills and time to help you creatively communicate with your workforce.

"You have the responsibility to empower your staff in terms of education and knowledge"

Communicate safety

In a mining or construction company, safety communication should be present at all times. From posters on the walls in common areas to safety checklists in specific departments or sections. You should also run campaigns on specific issues such as a campaign on the correct safety gear to wear, or one on how to avoid slipping and falling at work. There are many benefits that come with communicating safety such as creating a culture of HSE compliance and increased productivity.

It’s better to overcommunicate when it comes to critical issues. Don’t assume your workforce just knows the best practices, reinforce them by constantly and continuously communicating. Safety communication will also help serve as a reminder for all concerned with HSE.

Prioritise workforce health

The health of your employees directly affects their performance which affects the company’s productivity and profit level. Raising health awareness, educating your staff on health matters, and making the work environment and culture healthier are in the best interests of your organisation.

Ideas on how you can improve the health and overall well-being of your workforce:

  • Hire enough people for the productivity you expect. Highly stressed employees are bound to experience more health issues from that stress
  • Invite health professionals to educate your workforce and encourage them to make better choices when it comes to their overall health
  • Create and run communication campaigns that raise awareness on common health conditions and that encourage prevention

Track HSE at work improvements and failures

Don’t neglect the admin side of your HSE efforts. You need to keep track of past hazards and how they were addressed, all improvements, new potential hazards, safety failures, accidents, and fatalities. If you don’t keep track of these numbers and stats, your company can’t be accountable and find innovative ways to make improvements.

Creating yearly reports with all the necessary stats and sharing those with all employees can help create a sense of urgency and a sense of responsibility for the team. Achieving zero harm is possible, but it requires a lot of effort from the company and its people.

Don’t sweep health and safety issues under the rug

Ignoring the safety hazards in your company is irresponsible because it could lead to a serious injury or in the worst-case scenario, a fatality. When employees communicate their HSE concerns, address those quickly and properly as no one wants to work in a dangerous environment where leaders take serious hazards lightly.

EHS refers to Environmental Health and Safety, which is also of utmost importance. If the community complains about how your company gets rid of waste, you need to find alternative, more sustainable ways to get rid of that waste. Many companies try to minimise costs by turning to cheaper ways of operating, which in turn, causes harm to the environment and the community.

In 2023 and moving forward, companies need to take responsibility for the effect they have on the environment and on people. Individuals can try to make more sustainable choices as consumers and waste producers, but the truth is that organisations contribute the most to pollution and climate change.

HSE at work tips for a safety culture illustration

Use creative communications for your HSE at work

Although HSE issues are serious and can be life-threatening in extreme cases, you need to find creative ways to be compliant and to minimise health and safety hazards and issues in the workplace. Creativity and innovation lead to finding improved and more efficient solutions over time. Your staff will also be motivated to get involved and share their own ideas. Conversations will be sparked, and so much change starts with just a simple conversation.

Try using the following ideas to improve your HSE efforts:

  • Design a mascot for your safety communication campaigns
  • Incentivise HSE efforts to encourage employees to proactively take part in the journey of making your company a healthier and safer place of work
  • Use related holidays or special dates to raise awareness such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sometimes some messaging can get redundant, so it’s necessary to make having these conversations more exciting for your workforce.

We hope we’ve given you enough ideas and motivation on how to get more intentional and creative when it comes to prioritising health and safety in your organisation. As a leader or company owner, remember that you are responsible for the safety of your employees when they are in their place of work. This is a responsibility that must be taken seriously and with a sense of urgency.

Create your task team and start planning towards improving your company’s HSE from 2023. With ESG being such a hot topic, and with investors and other stakeholders wanting to form relationships with companies who operate sustainably – health and safety best practices are a must.

By using the above tips and tricks, you’ll create a work culture that champions HSE and environmental health and safety. This new culture will do more than just increase productivity and performance, it will save lives, make you an employer of choice and lead to more fruitful stakeholder and investor relationships being formed.

The only way to improve is to tackle HSE head-on, and set actionable goals, even if it’s uncomfortable.

Workforce Campaigns is here to help you achieve your ESG, ESH and HSE goals. Our solution is unique in the marketplace as we offer creative, and professionally designed communications campaigns. These campaigns can be used to empower your workforce in terms of culture, health ad safety.

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