H&S Committees - Alternative ideas and approaches
I have seen what an effective main-stream Health and Safety committee looks like but I wonder what alternative approaches and ideas there are to that outlined by Worksafe. What are some different ways to support and structure worker engagement, participation and representation?
Short sharp training sessions - like super short - 5 mins tops at the end of the meeting or as it's own meeting. Use videos, practicals, stories, case studies, anything except numbers and loads of words on a PowerPoint screen.
Make it ALL about the participants. You are there to support and serve.. Spend less time talking, more time listening. Tell a story and then let them tell you how that story could happen at their place. That almost always develops into the conversation within the group about what could they do about it.
Non PC food is also good - it's amazing how far a couple of bucks worth of chocolate fish improves engagement - I don't know if anyone has done a study on how having food in your mouth improves confidence and breaks down barriers, but I've now been to a over a year's worth of multi-department meetings (14 a month at one site) where that exact phenomenon has happened.
In fact the regular choc fish vs fruit burst vs pineapple lump vote is always a winner and the only bummer meeting we've had recently was when someone (okay, me) left the choc fish in the car for a week and they melted together... it wasn't the worst meeting ever, but it did take the team slightly longer to warm up. The discussion on how this event could be prevented was also a bit of a hoot
I've found bringing cakes is a good way to re-invigorate flagging engagement.
my guys love it when there are freddo frogs up for grabs, perks them up and for some reason and the discussions are awesome
One thing I would like to look into further is having effective worker participation in the management of safety in their workplaces without the need for the classical H&S Committee approach.
My initial thoughts are this would need to be part of a wider organisational change to H&S management including a company's leadership structure accepting to decentralise a lot more of the decision making processes (and in turn moving away from a classical management structure to a leadership structure). Part of this would be a revised way to look at risk assessment practices - where risk prompts (incidents, near misses, safety conversations, after action debriefs, etc.) can be used to trigger a variety of assessment method from the simply actioning a suggested improvement through to learning teams and/or ICAM investigations, or (as our current government loves) working groups for specific issues (which I guess are like learning teams on a much bigger scale).
In doing so my hope is that worker participation and engagement will be driven from a discussion of the opinions of a few towards the inclusion of the whole of the workforce.
The term 'committee' can be a barrier to participation and input. I find it puts people into an unnecessarily formal and defensive frame of mind. We're trialling 'learning groups' or 'business improvement groups' that bundle up all the other business needs that need review and make H&S an integrated part of the wider discussion.
Too early to tell if it will be effective long term - but committees weren't working so something had to change....
I am finally agreeing with Andrew on something. Catering is the key.
Great to see you come around to my side on the big issues. A bit more time and you'll see the light on the others. Like cheese, all good things take time.
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