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Leading by example: The key to safe workplaces

A workplace can have literally dozens of health and safety signs dotted around the office and various printed warnings and emails can be sent, but often the most effective way to ensure staff wellbeing is by somebody taking the initiative and setting an example.

This is usually the manager of the workplace or a senior person; namely, one that people are likely to look up to or listen to - something that was the topic of a recent event held by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Follow the leader

At the event in Brighton, led by members of IOSH's South Downs Branch, local business bosses were advised to "lead by example" when it comes to health and safety or suffer the consequences.

It came after four companies in the region were given significant penalties after putting workers' lives at risk.

IOSH highlighted two incidents in which a paper mill was fined £5,000 when a worker was crushed and injured between a forklift truck and pallet, while just days later a construction company was given an £8,000 penalty after the face of an excavation collapsed on top of a worker, crushing his right hip.

Expect the unexpected

These incidents highlight how things can go wrong, even when unanticipated, explained Rod Thonger, chair of the Branch, at the meeting.

As a result, it is important that directors, managers and senior figures in any organisation lead by example when it comes to protecting the lives and livelihoods of their workforce, he advised.

"Only last month, four companies in the region were fined for breaching health and safety regulations and injuring workers. This needs to stop, and it’s only going to happen if the management leads by example, and show the workforce how it should be done. If bosses choose to ignore health and safety then they will suffer the consequences," he explained.

A key message of the meeting was that good health and safety does not only prevent accidents and fatalities, but ensures continuity of production and helps to save companies thousands of pounds a year.

Plan of action

As a result, businesses were told that it is far more efficient to have a good safety programme in place than one that is poorly implemented or non-existent.

Mr Thonger explained: "It’s more satisfying to run a company with an accident-free workplace where everyone is safe, than to suffer the trauma of one of your employees injured, and embarrassment of seeing your company in the news following the accident."

The event included speeches from John Corden, head of health at Southern Water, and Peter Turner, from the Environment Agency, who each revealed how leading by example can help to transform workplace safety and ensure employees are protected.

More than 50 people were in attendnace at the American Express Community Stadium, ranging from health and safety professionals to managing directors, and the IOSH representatives were keen to stress that the messages should be taken away and applied with immediate effect.

"Today’s event is about showing those who run companies how they can lead their team on health and safety issues to make a big difference to a safe working environment," Mr Thonger concluded.ADNFCR-2134-ID-801600827-ADNFCR