Innovating the health and safety culture

Innovating the health and safety culture

A safety culture that is conducive to innovation is not only good for the company’s bottom line, but is something that leaders and employees value. Innovation is considered as a norm in today’s ever-changing arena, and be it any field, there are people that support this idea. May be simply because such behaviors help translate into better and superior performances. As management books perceive, innovative culture is defined by its tolerance for failure, willingness to experiment, psychological safety, collaborative atmosphere etc.

The rapid advancements and the future of work will require us to think of health and safety in different ways. Each industry holds the potential to innovate differently; site-specific factors matter and without direct engagement with the circumstances and cultures at individual sites, it becomes difficult to progress in terms of OSH.

ILO has promoted OSH in a fun and creative way through a board game OSHNopoly (inspired by the game monopoly). Here, the players are introduced to the concepts and practical information regarding risks, hazards and preventive measures. They compete to eliminate the dangers they face as they progress by answering questions and carrying out challenges. ILO, in collaboration with the Indonesian OSH council, launched a Youth4OSH portal in Jakarta to promote OSH awareness in people from Southeast Asian countries.

Innovation and productivity are crucial and their qualitities go hand-in hand in workplace safety.

Even industries have started experiencing and introducing this kind of cultural shifts; where transition to their intellectual assets has enabled innovations in their health and safety domain. Ideally, good safety ideas should be nurtured and some industries are striving for the same.

There are novel approaches undertaken by companies; primary among them are nudge theory and heuristics, gamification, predictive analytics, competency building, driver safety risk programs etc. HSE professionals need to develop the culture further by considering and incorporating employee attitudes, behavioural influences and organizational thinking.

Equinor built the Gina Krog platform in South Korea in challenging conditions offshore. What highlights the making is its creation at the shipyard area, that took 15 million working hours, and they achieved it without any serious injury. This was achieved through emphasis on workplace safety regulations and the entire workforce adopted the safety culture. Though the work culture was strictly hierarchical and management driven, they conducted one-to-one meetings, to understand things that didn’t work (an approach that was new for Norwegians). Everyone shared a common mindset, a common responsibility and ensured that safety remains their backbone.

Salesforce’s V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, Measures) runs at the forefront of their business. In this iterative, feedback-driven process, everyone inputs their goals, roles and performance contributes. All the employees can see everyone else’s V2MOMs – it keeps employees across all levels, functions and regions of the company aligned and focused on the company’s vision and objectives. They engage with their managers based on their priorities and monitor, refresh and manage their V2MOMs.

Different initiatives from the industries are important to develop and formally manage the knowledge and understanding of the standards and protocols of safety. Making the use of safety tools, education and training of the employees, analyzing and reviewing the safety management systems, in short, providing a format to establish safety goals and objectives. The formats should be flexible enough to update and retain any sort of changes, for the industries, as they proceed.

Safety culture impacts communication and performances and structured approaches, or rather, innovative ideas are necessary to create a comprehensive and effective safety culture. Organizations benefit in terms of quality and quantity, when they build a foundation to improve the safety perception in their employees.

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