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Health and Safety is More Effective When Workers are Involved

A common mistake in many organisations involves managers and directors deciding upon all aspects of health and safety within the business without any consultation with employees whatsoever. This usually comes about as a combination of management knowing that they have legal responsibilities for the health and safety of their employees, and the fact that they are so used to giving instructions with little or no discussion with workers.

Health and safety issues however are slightly different in that as the whole topic has the objective of keeping workers safe and free from harm whilst conducting their workplace duties, it will therefore be necessary for them to be consulted. Workers who spend all of their time on the shop floor where the majority of dangers exist will have a much greater understanding of the possible health risks and potential for accidents than managers who rarely venture down from a nice, comfortable office.

An argument which some managers put forward is that consulting with all of the workers will take a lot of time and will likely result in meetings with lots of conflicting and contrasting points of view. Large meetings may descend into shouting matches where little if anything meaningful actually comes out of it. When there are lots of people needing guidance and instruction, sometimes it is better for management just to make the decision and inform workers what they expect to happen.

A much better idea though is for middle managers, supervisors and team leaders to conduct smaller-scale safety meetings just with those teams for which they are directly responsible for, and then convey the findings up the chain of command. These meetings with different sections of the workplace can all happen at the same time, and enables senior managers and directors to hear all of the most pressing concerns by receiving them from the middle managers in a much more organised manner than trying to listen to everybody in one gigantic meeting. Also if the same points are being made in each of the different meetings, management will know that it is a particular area of concern which needs attention.

This approach is frequently put to good use by large companies, with safety representatives elected to be the bridge between workers and managers when it comes to matters related to health and safety. Workers in these companies often have increased morale if they feel that management actually listens to their suggestions and that concerns are taken seriously. Just having safety representatives for workers to talk to will not be enough though; it will need to be backed up by positive action by management which increases safety levels within the businesses such as the timely rectification of issues which arise, e.g. the replacement of personal protective equipment (ppe) which is starting to get past its best.

Communication can also work the other way. When management decide to provide health and safety training courses like the NEBOSH General Certificate to workers many will wonder why they need to receive such training. Communicating this information down through middle managers and supervisors can convey this message, rather than just issuing a command from the top without explanation.




Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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