How HSE managers can share their expertise to stay ahead of the competition

hqse manager

This article is based on the third edition of the Health and Safety Guide 65’s Managing for Health and Safety published by the Health and Safety Executive in 2013 and is a general guidance to complying with the law.

This guide will help any company or HSE manager to address specific HSE (health, safety and environment) issues by using the Plan, Do, Check, Act framework, and identifying the key actions needed in each part of the framework and “relating them back, where appropriate, to leadership, management, worker involvement and competence” (HSG65, 2013).

The Plan, Do, Check, Act is the perfect framework for any HSE leader to share his or her expertise and put in place an ideal health, safety and environment arrangement that would help any company keep afloat in any competitive industry.

The key actions

The key actions covered in this guide are the following (HSG65, 2013):

  1. Plan
    • Determine your policy
    • Plan for implementation
  1. Do
    • Profile your health and safety risks
    • Organise for health and safety
    • Implement your plan
  1. Check
    • Measure your performance
    • Investigate all accidents and incident
  1. Act
    • Review your performance
    • Learn lessons

Plan

In order to implement an HSE policy, an effective HSE management system needs to be in place. A good HSE manager should establish an effective HSE system and a policy that clarifies the communication of HSE duties throughout the company. Policies should meet legal and regulatory requirements, prevent health, safety, and environment problems, and enable the HSE team and the entire company to respond quickly upon the rise of difficulties or new risks.

Here are five things to consider at this stage:

  1. Where are you now and where do you need to be?
  2. What do you want to achieve? Who is responsible for what? How are you achieving your objectives? How will you measure your performance and ultimately, your success? These questions will guide you to writing down your policy and your plans to deliver it.
  3. Define how you will measure your performance. Identify your active and reactive indicators.
  4. Consider other emergencies or accidents like fire. Communicate and collaborate your emergency plans with anyone sharing your workplace or building.
  5. Future-proof your plans and be ready for changes and legal requirements that may apply to you.

Decide on your policy

So as to achieve effective HSE outcomes in construction, it is highly important to have a strategy and to be able to make clear plans and to outline how to do things, what things to do, and to assign responsibilities appropriately. Additionally, your policy should be shared and followed throughout your company so everyone understands and gets involved in your HSE management process.

Plan your implementation

To properly implement your HSE policies, planning is crucial. It is only through coordinated action by everyone in your workforce that control of risks can be achieved. Your company should plan to:

  1. Control risks
  2. Respond to changing demands
  3. Sustain positive HSE attitudes and behaviors.

For HSE managers, think about the management of contractors when you’re developing your policy. If your company interacts with a lot of contractors in a project, it is highly important that you consider a place for them in your policy. Identify or set a revision or revisit of your policy and plans. Following changes in processes or staff, accidents or incident investigations, consultations with higher management or representatives, or the availability new information, it is important to go back and if possible, revise your policy. This is one crucial aspect where your HSE expertise can lead your company to stay ahead of your competition.

Do

An effective HSE manager ensures a proper working HSE management system that protects the health and safety of his employees to ensure that they are more productive and can deliver projects effectively on time. This is especially important in construction as decreased productivity and late deliveries can cause a company so much, and incidents and accidents can be fatal. By ensuring that risks are dealt with sensibly, responsibly, and proportionately, they create an effective workflow that is centered around a safety culture that increases productivity.

What HSE managers should do

1. Profile your company’s health, safety and environment risks. By assessing the risks, your company can identify what could cause harm in the workplace, who and how it could harm, and what you will do to manage the risks. By doing so, you can set your priorities and identify the biggest risks. In assessing risks for a company, it would depend on the size of your business. To check the level of risk assessment you need for your company, the HSE’s risk assessment website is a gold mine of information.

2. Organise for health, safety and environment. Involve your workers and communicate throughout the company what is needed so you can discuss issues and develop positive attitudes and behaviors. This kind of organising actually involves four key areas of activities: controls, cooperation, communication and competence.

  • Controls includes leadership, management, supervision and the likes. Anyone engaging contractors has HSE responsibilities.
  • Cooperation is between workers, their managers and representatives through involvement and active consultation.
  • Communication is across the entire company through discussions, written communication and visible behavior.
  • Competence is of individuals through recruitment and training.

3. Implement your plan. Once you’ve identified and prioritised your risks, you can now decide on what preventive and protective measures to put in place. Provide the correct tools and equipment for the various jobs and maintain them. Train and instruct appropriately to ensure everyone is competent at their jobs. Supervise and monitor to make sure your policy and arrangements are followed and are in check.

In supervising HSE effectively, HSE managers should always consider the level of supervision necessary for each task. HSE managers should lead by example and encourage supervisors and line managers to have a positive attitude towards HSE. They should encourage to live out the safe systems of working. A note again when working with contractors: when you’re engaging them, you always have HSE responsibilities to them and to those affected by their activities. Contractors have their own legal HSE responsibilities so make sure that everyone understands the roles they need to play to ensure HSE. Make sure to monitor their HSE performance.

Related article: The QHSE manager’s guide to coaching their employees.

Check

Monitoring and reporting are critical parts of your HSE system. Your HSE management system should allow your company to receive specific (like, incident reports) and routine reports on the performance of your HSE policy.

  • Measure all kinds of activities that determine your HSE performance. Countercheck with your plans, if they have been implemented. Evaluate how well the risks are being controlled and if you are achieving your objectives. Routine inspections and audits are very useful.
  • Investigate accidents, incidents, and near-misses. Investigate their causes and make sure to address solutions to prevent their recurrence.

A good HSE manager would know when to involve different levels within the management chain in monitoring activities. Importantly, he would know the appropriate action plans for whatever results the monitoring would yield. Additionally, he would use the performance measurement results to improve future HSE performance and to share the lessons learned with the whole company.

Act

It is imperative for a company to review its HSE performance as it allows whether important HSE principles have been established—effective management, competence, worker consultation and involvement. An HSE performance review tells you if your system is indeed effective in managing risks and protecting your people.

  • Review your performance. Learn from accidents and incidents, ill-health data, errors and relevant experiences. Revisit your plans, policy documents and risk assessments to check if they need to be updated.
  • Take action on lessons learned. Include all audit and inspection reports.

The right HSE manager would know the objectives of the performance review and what kind of information to be collected, and what actions need to be carried out. Above all else, he shows by actions that whatever happens, safety is a core value.

These are the core actions of how an HSE manager can share his or her expertise and competencies—plan, do, check, act! Remember, this is not a once-and-for-all action but rather a cyclical one where you may need to go round the circle a few more times to share more and learn more. For detailed information on each element discussed on this article, go to www.hse.gov.uk/leadership. It is definitely worth your time.

For an overall insight on how you can stay competitive in the fast-changing construction industry, we wrote an ebook that you can actually download for free today.

Topics: Health & safety
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