It’s not a new idea, is it? Safety is everyone’s responsibility! Imagine working at a construction site, with exposed cables hanging from the ceiling. If the workers on the site do not report the cables, the danger will remain and an incident is bound to happen.
Employers do not have their eyes everywhere. They cannot know all conditions that can endanger workers. Thus, the workers, site managers and contractors are the most important "sensors" for incident reporting for Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) management.
A Strong Safety Culture
As mentioned, no employer can know every hazard and risk on all sites. Safety management is a collaboration of an organisation’s employees right up to the highest management.
Encouraging your workers to be conscious of safety issues takes more than barking instructions. You need to encourage a supportive and transparent workplace safety culture.
To cultivate a positive workplace safety culture, you can make sure safe work practices are established. Compile an accessible and updated Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) policy.
Create awareness and educate employees on safety procedures and responsibility. Providing training and workshop education is a great way to foster safety and camaraderie, and teach workers the importance of safety reporting.
When creating awareness, be sure to remember that HSE management includes health risk management, environmental hazards, workplace wellbeing, and other types of incidents. A good example is ensuring social distancing and access to sanitiser during the COVID-19 pandemic with effective daily or weekly checklists.
Accountability vs. Responsibility
When it comes to workplace safety, there is an important distinction between accountability and responsibility.
Everybody should be responsible for making sure that possibly harmful conditions are reported and fixed accordingly. However, not everyone is legally accountable for an incident. Employers are accountable for creating safe and healthy workplaces but it's not only their responsibility to report hazards and incidents. This is one of the main differences around good-performing and ill-performing safety cultures: if all employees feel the responsibility, they truly own safety.
Internal Reporting Systems
For workers to be responsible, they need to know about and trust the reporting procedures. Of course, your company may have external regulators of your workplace’s EHS systems, including industry regulators and the law but they are not replacements for internal reporting and corrective action processes.
Your workplace EHS reporting system should help to answer these five simple questions for employees:
- Where do I report to?
- Who will receive the report?
- Can I file an anonymous report if I don't feel comfortable using my own name?
- What are the legal and workplace repercussions of a report?
- How long will the reporting process last?
Your safety reporting system needs to be convenient and accessible to every single employees and stakeholder. It needs to be inclusive of different report types. These include near-miss reporting, incident reporting, accident reporting, harassment reporting, environmental reporting etc.
The system should also be time-sensitive as it is best to quickly amend safety issues as quickly as possible to avoid incidents. Not dealing with reported issues timely can lead to claims of negligence by the company.
Mobile reporting platforms are a good place to start! Your employees can file reports on any potential issues as soon as they spot them even without internet connection. The more you encourage this, the better your workplace safety culture will become.
To prompt everybody to be responsible for workplace safety, your company needs to have a culture that celebrates responsibility. This culture needs to support the safety management processes and vice versa.
Having a good safety reporting system can keep your employees engaged - resulting in increased safety for everyone.
If you're looking for a incident reporting platform that is hyper easy-to-use, ticks all the boxes for anonymity, two-way communication, has built-in workflows for multiple use cases and more, test drive our incident reporting platform or contact us for more information!
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