Effective Safety Improvement Ideas

Successful Safety and Risk Management Initiatives

Depositphotos_54511907_xs_thumb.jpgThese are some of the entries in our recent Risk Makes Sense – Book Competition. Listed in the order they were submitted:

1) Internal standards of OHS excellence – George Robotham 

One of the best pieces of OHS work I have seen was when one organisation implemented 18 internal standards of OHS excellence.

Standards were Visitor safety, contractor safety, compliance with statute law, use of personal protective equipment, management commitment, hazard identification/risk assessment, safe working procedures, loss prevention &control, employee involvement, emergency procedures, accident investigation, education/communication, inspections, health & fitness, injury management, etc and compliance with these standards must be audited.

One company I was associated with introduced the above standards and it put a massive increase in the focus on safety. What excellence in implementation of the standards would look like was defined and people were trained in this. A detailed set of audit questions, based on the fore-going was developed as was a detailed set of auditing guidelines and roles of auditors defined. Sites to be audited were briefed on the auditing guidelines and auditors were trained on the audit questions and auditing guidelines. A series of annual Executive Safety Audits was introduced at the various sites with an audit team led by a senior manager to give the process significant management horsepower. The largest audit team I was involved in had 10 auditors and audited the site for 4 days. A quality assurance approach where NCR (Non-compliance reports) were issued was used and formal processes were introduced to follow-up on audit recommendations.

The technical basis, training and preparation for the audits was sound but the key to success was the fact the audits were driven by senior management.

2) Fall Arrest Harnesses – Saviour Ellul – Senior Consultant Surveyor

One initiative that I noted to have worked on a construction site is to induce workers who erect and dismantle scaffolding without wearing and/or anchoring their fall arrest harnesses.

This often happens when in house personnel rather than professional scaffolding companies carry out such work.

The idea was to include harnesses with the normal daily scaffolding materials that they withdraw from the site store every morning.

The storekeeper issues the numbered harness with the materials & tools regularly and puts them back for overnight storage at knock off time in the afternoon.

That way it eventually became more of a routine.

The supervisor is instructed to point out anchoring points where necessary.

A possible improvement is to train a movement activated CCTV camera on the scaffold works and involve scaffolders in a monthly discussion focussed solely on issues and improvements.

3) Hold the Handrail – Nicholas J.L. Gardener – R.I. Solutions Limited – www.riskinternational.com

We had several incidents where office staff stumbled on stairs. A simple campaign was started to “hold the handrail”.

The main office stairway led up from an atrium to an open plan area, so others could see people using the stairs. A stand was placed at the bottom of the stairs with a notice saying “Please Use the Handrail”.

At first some forgot or ignored the “rule”. Some were reticent to point it out to others. But when it was seen that managers were asking senior executives and customers visiting the offices to hold the handrail the message started to come across that it was important. Some still thought it a bit of a joke or unnecessary but were always asked politely to comply. In time it became a bit embarrassing to be asked to hold the handrail in full view of the other office staff.

The interesting thing is that plant managers who had been in the offices started to insist that their operators hold the plant handrails. Some complained that the rails were dirty – so they were cleaned. Then shifts started cleaning their own handrails as a matter of course. The benefits were realised.

I am not alone in remarking that the habit of holding handrails on stairs has become so ingrained we even edge towards the side of stairs in shops and other public places to hold the handrail.

The key to success? Explain, make it easy, insist and persist.

4) Risk Management Framework – Brodie Pearce – Risk Management Officer

I have recently begun working at an organisation which did not have any formal risk management framework in place to address risk exposure across the whole organisation. There were separate and sometimes very different risk management systems with varying levels of effectiveness employed from department to department. After a period assessing the level of awareness and existing risk management procedures in use in the organisation I drafted an organisational risk management framework that would standardise how each department manages risk. The risk management framework provided a standard to which each area would adhere to and the relevant procedures to follow i.e. risk assessment procedures, stakeholder involvement strategies, documentation requirements, organisation wide responsibilities frameworks (which remove the confusion as to which dept. management a specific risk), reporting and legislative requirements and a risk management training program which equipped all employees with the necessary skills to effectively manage risks in their departments.

The success of the risk management framework has allowed me as the risk management officer to step back and allow the employees of the organisation to manage risks in their own departments themselves, not to say that I still don’t monitor the risk management processes and provide guidance. But that I am no long the sole risk management officer in the organisation, all staff are now risk management officers. This has freed me up to handle the more serious risk exposures that my organisation faces.

5) Safety Game – Ron Butcher, CSP

I’m the safety manager at a fossil fuel 900mW powerplant in California, U.S.  To describe and facilitate safe behaviors at the plant, I’ve developed and instituted a “baseball” style game (could be based on any game) that awards “wins” for contributions to our safety programs, championing specific programs, conducting training, caught being safe and other identified safe behaviors.  There are no losses to the game.  As long as an individual contributes, they win.  We have individual recognition and team bonus categories divided by specialty areas like operations, maintenance, etc.  In January alone, our game identified over 100 positive safety behaviors in the high risk environment of our plant.

6) What we didnt do -Steve Thomas

The focus of my entry into this competition is more of what we “didn’t” do as a way to maintain our safety awareness among staff.

I used to work for a fruit processing company, which used dollies on light rail tracks throughout the processing area.  Many times, there were questions raised as to the hazardous nature of these rail tracks; which ultimately lead to much discussion as to changing our methods of moving product around the processing area.  The obvious thing to do was to cut the tracks into the concrete so that they were flush with the surface of the floor.

However, the thing that struck me every time we re-visited doing something about this hazard was that in the 30 + years I had been employed within this facility, we had not once experienced a claim, or indeed an incident of any kind due to tripping on the rail tracks.

And so I have started to take more notice of other areas within our community, in particular council pathways.  It appears to me that as soon as councils started beautifying road verges with paving bricks, public outcry has become incessant regarding pavers and tripping hazards, due to the occasional paver that has moved.  This outcry wasn’t as evident previously when it was obvious to all and sundry that the road verges were uneven.

And so it is my belief that we can indeed over-protect people.  Perhaps some things are safer when they are in your face.




Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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