• Peter Bateman
    In the current edition of Safeguard magazine Chris Jones from the Department of Corrections recommends that H&S people invest effort in educating and engaging with their organisation's board of directors.

    What is the best approach you have found to achieve this?

    You can respond in public here on the Forum, or privately here via a Survey Monkey form.

    An edited selection of responses will be published in the Nov/Dec edition, but with no names attached. One randomly selected person will receive a prize, namely a copy of the recently revised and reissued edition of Andrea Needham's classic book on workplace bullying.
  • Allister Rose
    Ive been trying to engage with various boards after I saw Nicole Rosie speaking on “Insights” to Peter Chrisp about Leadership. I have to say its been a hard road to hoe, most boards aren’t in the least interested in Section 44, they don’t understand due diligence and are often more focused on financial maters. Clearly this is at the boards peril. I believe this wont change until an example has been made and an officer(s) are charged by the regulators. Interestingly Police in the UK prosecute the workplace fatals, so there are more likely more officers charged in the UK. I wonder if this is the way NZ should be heading - Police conducting the investigations and taking it to prosecution
  • Celeste Erasmus
    I call it a "Directors Walkthru". All Directors need to engage on a quarterly basis in the field. I take my Directors on a visit to one of our sites every quarter (different site) every time. We have 5 Directors and every Director is responsible for certain risks, so I focus on their risks for that time, show them the type of controls we have in place, plus its recorded on the Risk Register. We also not just go through their risks in depth, but also focus on other areas of concern. They get involved and show that they care..... The action plan are being reviewed monthly at the Directors Meeting.
  • Michael Wilson
    I second this but would add a chance for the board to talk to staff and ask them my favourite safety question "What frustrates you about this job?"
  • Celeste Erasmus
    definitely. That is part of our discussions. They need to understand the frustrations the crew and managers are dealing with on a daily basis.
  • SafetylawyerNZ
    I love Michael's question. I encourage Boards do ask something similar, and to try to test how work as imagined by SOPs/SWMS etc is different from work as done "on the tools".
  • Rob McAulay
    Agree with Michael and Celeste, I also asked "if you had an unlimited H&S Budget what would you do first"
  • Sheri Greenwell
    The tricky bit about educating the board is that the two groups - ie directors / officers and the people working at the coal face - typically operate at vastly different logical levels, a gap that can be frustratingly difficult to span. People at the coal face have little notion of those strategic perspectives and are quite rightly focused on the details of the work they do. Directors and senior managers are typically bored or get lost when people start talking about day-to-day details.

    I had to learn this myself in an exercise when I was undertaking my NLP Practitioner certification - while I have great capacity for detail and sought to be thorough, the important information was getting drowned out by details.

    This is why management reports typically include a management summary or overview.

    So what can we do to help bridge this gap and translate the important and relevant information between different logical levels??
  • Sheri Greenwell
    From the management perspective, various analysis tools can be very useful for making a business case, which is the approach most board members would be most receptive to.

    Useful tools include ROI analysis, SWOT analysis, Cartesian Coordinates, using input from relevant stakeholder groups, summarising for board members and senior managers, and supporting your position with structured analysis. Then walk them through step by step.
  • Andrew
    I might just point out that the broad role of a Board / Director is governance.

    The broad role of CEO / Senior management is Operational.

    Two quite different seas to swim in.
  • Thomas Hayes
    With their permission I hijacked 20 minutes of their BOD meeting so a H&S Consultant could talk to them about the changes to their duties and obligations under the new Act. This went a long way toward increasing the awareness among them and helped create buy-in.
  • Andrew
    Excellent result - but shouldn't be seen as "hijacking". It should have been an agenda item and they should welcome it.

    Partly because it enhances their professional development to have at least some clue. But also so they are aware of another set of Director responsibilities they undertake in exchange for their fees.
  • SafetylawyerNZ
    Every Board should do this - I've spent a lot of time over the last 3 years giving this sort of presentation, and many Boards are now seeking refreshers and updates to help them keep it front of mind. A presentation on the due diligence duty is not enough on its own though. Officers need to think about their duties and construct a personalised plan to help them meet each element. This can be a combination of reports from management and external consultants, deep dives into critical risks, and face to face engagement with workers from across the business.
  • Craig Marriott
    Educating the Board is easy - include routine awareness slots in Board meetings (and outside them occasionally); get them out in the field to understand the hazards (not stage-managed and not en masse); include training and awareness information in routine written reports. We include both technical information and a general industry update - case law, relevant incidents elsewhere, what WorkSafe are doing etc.
    What is hard is getting a Board interested in receiving the information and learning from it. I'm fortunate to have a Board that is very receptive as well as having a good foundation of knowledge and awareness - this is not the case for everyone. For this you need influencing skills rather than informing skills - why they need to, why it's important, how safety is often a proxy for overall performance etc. Move away from the old fashioned 'because you must' towards a more holistic view that emphasises that safety and productivity and profitability are all inextricably linked and that providing a safe environment where teams feel valued is foundational to performance.
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