Drowning in H&S? Follow our steps to the fresh air

‘Yesterday I did the weekly shop at Tesco and at the checkout was served by a new trainee.

Far from the service being worse, it was actually better. Slower, but better.

Why? Because the cashier was processing things at a pace that allowed me time to put things into bags. Most supermarket till-operators go as fast as possible – they try to be efficient, with the result that the customer can feel harried.

Here comes the analogy

There’s an analogy here (you knew one was coming, right?). In H&S Consultancy many firms throw all they can at the Client in a very short time, then you can’t see them for dust. If you’re brave enough to open their folders, you feel like you’re drowning in the detail.

We have long recognised this as bad practice – after all, most consultants should know that there are limits to how much information can be absorbed by any one of us ‘all-at-once’

We’ve written about this before – it’s called the ‘Curse of Knowledge’. In effect, we forget how long it took us to learn something way back, and then assume that whatever we’re telling someone will be instantly absorbed and understood.

We see this repeatedly between employers/employees where the employees are thrown a whole load of instructions (interspersed with lots of ‘but not this, and don’t forget that, and there are other exceptions, but not for these situations’ etc.)

Our Process

So at ‘Just Health and Safety’ we help to prioritise H&S tasks for our Clients and then pace the delivery so that they can keep up and follow the theory.

This doesn’t mean more expense, as we’re booked into hourly-paid batches (so the Client can always slow things down either to aid understanding, or enable them to catch up the tasks that inevitably arise as the process gets underway, or just to keep costs under control).

Everything we do is to try and enable the Client, and the key principle is that as a Consultant you work towards your own redundancy – heavily involved at the start, then tailing off as the Client runs things more independently.

Some people don’t get it

The downside to this approach is that in this ‘I Want It Now!’ world, the steady improvement with understanding approach doesn’t suit everyone.

Time and again, we’re contacted by businesses who are bidding for contracts and come across the stumbling block of their prospective Client, or accreditation body, rejecting their H&S paperwork. When it comes to a time-limited bidding process this is exactly the wrong time to be contacting a H&S Consultancy…unless you’re planning to avoid being rejected in the future.

There’s plenty of people managing businesses who think that speed is everything. They leave their H&S systems and preparedness lagging for years, and then suddenly they want a too-tight timescale for improvement. ‘I couldn’t do it myself, so you do it – and make it quick!’

Sliding Doors

An accident happens at your site, and suddenly you’re floundering. The H&S company you thought had solved this are now running for the hills, saying ‘Ah, no – the condition was that you had to read, understand and follow everything we ever sent you’. You’re in the dock alone, your employee is claiming you never did anything, there’s no proof that you were actively managing H&S.

Alternatively, an accident happens at your site and you’re immediately on it. You conduct a thorough investigation. You quickly find the risk assessments that you’d carried out relating to the incident, and the associated procedures, training and toolbox talks. Your consultant guides you along the way because you’d been working together on improving H&S systems. By the time the prosecution/claim arrives you’re prepared to defend what you’d been doing to ensure the H&S of all employees.

Better? We think so – if you do too, then get in touch to see how we can work together to put robust H&S systems in place for your organisation.