Workplace Violence - Are your staff safe enough? 

Can safety be measured in numbers?  Whilst recording incident numbers and other relevant factors provides useful data to identify trends such as job roles, activities, location e.t.c. that may contribute to an incident, there is more to managing health and safety than achieving  a set numerical target.

In her blog HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt makes reference to a question she was asked whilst speaking at a conference, the delegate was asking for some form of assurance about the number of incidents that would be ‘acceptable’ to avoid prosecution e.g. 1 in 1,000, 1 in 10,000 1 in 1 million?

Her response is a useful reminder to us all that the overriding purpose of health and safety is to prevent injury or harm to employees and is not about achieving a set numerical target.

Judith says: Successful risk management is not about ticking boxes or calculating numbers. And it is not about doing things to avoid sanctions. The primary goal is not to avoid a fine or a criminal record, but to stop people being made unwell or being hurt or killed by their work.

The reason our (HSE) regulations are backed by a criminal enforcement regime is because Parliament and successive governments have been clear that it is not acceptable for lives to be put at risk or damaged because of a failure to manage workplace risk.

In the most serious cases, it's true that you may face an unlimited fine or go to prison if you are found guilty of failing to manage the risks, which resulted in someone being seriously hurt. But, worse still, you can't undo the suffering of those injured or the grief of the bereaved. Some people may have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

Managing risk means managing people and every one of them is different. They live their lives and bring their experiences and attitudes with them to work. That's not easy to factor into the numerical systems driven approach to risk management.

For managers and leaders especially, this numerical approach to risk is dangerous - it makes it easy to distance yourself from the reality of what is really happening and the risks that people may be taking in your business.

Systems and procedures are important, but they're not enough.  The acid test of ‘safe enough’ gets measured on a different scale. Would I let my son or daughter do that? Would I be happy to see someone I cared about putting themselves at risk in that way? If the answer is no, then why should you feel comfortable asking someone in your business to do it?

Contact us if your staff are at risk of verbal abuse or physical assault at work. We can help with training and implementation of effective workplace violence risk management  strategies.



Posted by Maybo on December 17, 2012


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