This is a question i get asked on a regular basis -
“DO businesses TRULY UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COMPLIANT AND SAFE?”
Having supported many businesses’ health and safety for the past 30 years, it is my experience that many are concerned about the idea of compliance. In fact, the first question I’m often asked is, ‘How do I become and remain compliant?’
While it’s encouraging that organisations are concerned with fulfilling health and safety requirements, do they truly understand the difference between compliant and safe? Perhaps ‘How do I become and remain safe?’ is a more worthwhile question to ask.
What is compliance?
Compliance can be defined as ‘the action or fact of complying with a wish or command’.
Is it possible to be 100% compliant, 100% of the time? In the realm of health and safety.
Whatever your answer to that question, there’s so much information that we can learn from in our quest to a safer, healthier world.
For instance, some people believe that if they are found to be 100% compliant in an audit, they are doing all they need to do to meet their obligations. As we know, that isn’t necessarily true. Because of this perspective, people are often surprised when presented.
As a H&S consultant I still have much work to do to challenge this mindset
Managers and Directors need to understand that minimum standards are just that: instead of the ultimate goal, they should be seen as a platform upon which to progress and work from.
Are humans even hardwired for compliance? After all, we become tired, we may wear multiple hats, we face financial squeezes. Some have an ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ attitude, while others are of the mindset that if it’s never happened before, it’s unlikely to happen. Everyone has a different answer!!
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises that each company has different needs and requirements.
I work with my clients on a regular basis and we set KPI’s – key performance indicators. We work on reducing H&S issues within the workplace.
Clearly, there is still a focus within businesses on doing the minimum to comply. After all, the law exists to serve society and not the other way around.
Going beyond the minimum
Businesses that are value-operated tend to view compliance as a baseline – a foundation to build on.
Can ethics and leadership make a difference? Yes, they certainly can do!!
As a H&S consultant I often see myself as an agent of change – the hidden superhero.
We must listen to others’ opinions and show that we are all human – not robots and rule enforcers. Listening skills are a must in H&S.
We must do more to persuade those we encounter to go above and beyond compliance. We must adapt our language and terminology, speak their language and make H&S relevant, relatable and digestible. All of this will help organisations to recognise the real value of H&S.