SAFEQUAL News & Blog

Lessons learned, feedback and continuously improving your Health & Safety Policy

Continually improving your health and safety process is only possible through a systematic approach to health and safety. This means the processes, culture and engagement of the business are continuously being scrutinised and any changes in the environment, law or lessons learnt are fed back into the process.

8 - Reviewing performance

It is important that organisations review their health and safety performance. It allows you to establish whether the essential health and safety principles – effective leadership and management, competence, worker consultation and involvement – have been embedded in the organisation. It tells you whether your system is effective in managing risk and protecting people.

  • Review your performance
  • Learn from accidents and incidents, ill-health data, errors and relevant experience, including from other organisations.
  • Revisit plans, policy documents and risk assessments to see if they need updating.
  • Take action on lessons learned
  • Include audit and inspection reports.

Carrying out reviews will confirm whether your health and safety arrangements still make sense. For example, you’ll be able to:

  • check the validity of your health and safety policy;
  • ensure the system you have in place for managing health and safety is effective.

You’ll be able to see how the health and safety environment in your business has changed. This will enable you to stop doing things that are no longer necessary while allowing you to respond to new risks. Reviewing also gives you the opportunity to celebrate and promote your health and safety successes. Increasingly, third parties are requiring partner organisations to report health and safety performance publicly. The most important aspect of reviewing is that it closes the loop. The outcomes of your review become what you plan to do next with health and safety.

9 - Learning lessons

Learning lessons involves acting on:

  • findings of accident investigations and near-miss reports
  • organisational vulnerabilities identified during monitoring, audit and review processes.

Even in well-designed and well-developed management arrangements there is still the challenge of ensuring that all requirements are complied with consistently.

After an accident or case of ill health, many organisations find they already had systems, rules, procedures or instructions that would have prevented the event but were not complied with.

The underlying causes often lie in arrangements which are designed without taking proper account of human factors, or where inappropriate actions are condoned implicitly or explicitly by management action or neglect.

Common factors when things go wrong

Analysis of major incidents in high-hazard industries, with different technical causes and work contexts, has identified several common factors involved when things go wrong.

These factors are related to:

  • leadership;
  • attitudes and behaviours;
  • risk management and oversight.

When these aspects of an organisation become dysfunctional, important risks can become ‘normalised’ within it, leading to serious consequences.

Organisational learning

Organisational learning is a key aspect of health and safety management. If reporting and follow-up systems are not fit for purpose, for example if a blame culture acts as a disincentive to reporting near misses, then valuable knowledge will be lost. If the root causes of precursor events are not identified and communicated throughout the organisation, this makes a recurrence more likely. In many cases, barriers within an organisation – where different departments operate in ‘silos’ – inhibit organisational learning.

Human factors

Leaders and managers need to be aware of the people-related, cultural and organisational issues that may prevent lessons from being learned effectively in their organisations.

4 Steps to continuously improving Health & Safety in your business

  1. Planning your Businesses Health & Safety
  2. Doing, designing safe practices into different job roles and business functions
  3. Checking, active and reactive monitoring
  4. Acting, lessons learned, feedback and continuously improving your Health & Safety Policy

Why people choose RISK for their Health & Safety training providers

RISK trainers are active Health & Safety consultants, this means they fully understand what it’s like to work in a manufacturing or construction environment. They have experienced the issues and challenges you face in your business and can help you develop robust implementation processes as well as provide the knowledge to pass the relevant qualification for your job role.

The information contained within this article is sourced from HSE Book, Managing for Health and Safety (HSG65) which can be downloaded here.

This information is relevant to NEBOSH courses and the CITB SMSTS and SSSTS courses


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