After a recent discussion with a fellow H&S professional, I got thinking actually about our individual involvement in Health and Safety. Now we have to admit, there is a lot of paperwork surrounding any work process now. RAMS, COSHH assessments, Tool Box Talks, Briefing sheets etc… there is a LOT!
But are we hiding behind paperwork rather than real safety?
I say we, because we all can have an impact on day to day safety on site. We can all pick up S/T/F issues immediately; we can all stop someone doing something they shouldn’t. SO why don’t we? We should try to make at least once conscious effort each day to make a difference, to take time out of our busy day to stop and engage with someone about an issue of relevance. It would not take that much of an effort but it would have a massive impact.
Lazy management can contribute to the downfall of safety management, especially the “one rule for all” scenario (as in site who rule with 5 point PPE- Glasses and Gloves) when certain trades simply cannot function under these constraints of PPE requirements and when concern is raised it is dismissed without thought – because it’s not site policy or that’s not what your RAMS say. Full site banning of ladders is another example, these ridiculous restrictions weaken the foundations to the argument for the importance of Health and Safety as they become an over the top requirement.
The solution is simple – stop being so paperwork & policy driven and focus on the “man on the tools”. Make sure the man on the tools feel understood, appreciated, listened too and also sympathise with him.
What we lack is leadership in safety, those people that can really make a difference about site safety. We have too many staff that can achieve 100% on a site paperwork audit but have very little who can actually achieve 100% safe site.
Does site paperwork make that much of a difference in safety standards? I seem to think not and I tend to believe that actions speak louder than words.
The question to you all is, are we doing enough practical safety and are we focusing too much on paperwork?