Effective Software recently hosted the last of its conferences ‘Driving Engagement in Health & Safety’ in Birmingham, following its Dublin event in March.
Both events were a fantastic success, and the staff at Effective were overwhelmed by the positive feedback from attendees, both during the events and afterwards.
Our goal with the conference was to provide some meaningful and thought-provoking content for our attendees, both customers and non-customers alike. We sourced some of the most prominent thought-leaders in health and safety, Bridget Leathley and Kevin Hard to offer their perspective on hot-button issues such as Workplace Safety Culture and Behaviour-based Safety. Our own Chief Technical Officer Seán O’Sullivan was also on hand to discuss software developments within Effective and introduce our Engage App and brand-new Insights dashboards.
For our customers, we ran a series of afternoon workshops where they could discuss questions and comments on the software with members of our Customer Success team.
For those who were unable to attend, we wanted to provide a breakdown of the essential outcomes from the events. Throughout the conferences, we also asked attendees what they found to be the most important topics. Below we have gathered the top takeaways from each of our speakers talks:
BEHAVIOUR-BASED SAFETY - IS IT REALLY THE BEST WAY?
Bridget Leathley provided an in-depth critique of the concept of Behaviour-based Safety (BBS). BBS focuses on the actions of the worker when an incident occurs, often attributing blame to them. This is opposed to asking why workers make the choices that lead to incidents and questioning the role of senior management in the process. In her talk, Bridget explained that it is often factors such as time-pressure, workplace culture and unsuitable/ inadequate training and equipment that lead to incidents and accidents.
WORKPLACE SAFETY CULTURE
According to Bridget, it is important that senior management encourage reporting of hazards and potential risks by workers and ensure that they are met positively. It is also necessary that a ‘Coaching’ approach to health and safety is adopted, as opposed to rewarding workers for completing tasks quickly rather than safely.
BARRIERS TO HEALTH & SAFETY
The perceived struggle between cost and safety was another recurring topic during the conference. Bridget referenced that while businesses may claim that health and safety for their employees is a top priority, this is probably not the case. The cost of supplying appropriate equipment, training and assessment will always be a sticking point for some organisations. According to Bridget, it is important that decision makers consult directly with frontline staff, rather than relying on those whose job it is to keep costs down.
"I really did enjoy the discussions and debate with Bridget on Safety Culture"
Dave Sharkey, Future Industrial Services
WORKPLACE SAFETY CULTURE
Both speakers were in agreement that a collaborative workplace safety culture is vital and should be encouraged in organisations. Kevin Hard explained that safety, well-being, productivity and quality are all ultimately driven by workplace culture. Organisations need to move from being reactive to proactive about health and safety and must avoid allowing a blame-based culture to form.
Kevin emphasised the need to understand the reasons why people act the way that they do. He explained that we interpret everything differently, based on our own experiences. Just because an organisation believes that their health and safety procedures are clear and unmistakable, this is likely not the case. For this reason, health and safety procedures should be regularly reviewed in collaboration with frontline workers.
IMPORTANCE OF LEADERSHIP IN DRIVING ENGAGEMENT
Across the board, effective Leadership resonated with attendees as a crucial issue. Many attendees felt that leading by example as well as a consistent and authoritative approach was necessary to get buy-in from both frontline staff and senior management. According to Kevin, effective leaders will recognise and praise workers who follow health and safety procedure properly and avoid assigning blame when incidents occur. Instead, they will try to understand the reasons why the worker acted as they did. This all feeds into better workplace engagement in health and safety, in an environment where workers feel valued and listened to. In turn, workers feel comfortable reporting hazards and do not rush tasks due to time pressure, all leading to fewer workplace accidents.
"It kind of opened my mind to how we can tackle behavioural safety in our organisation. It won't start at the bottom, it will start at the top level. That really was sold to me today"
Cathal Duffy , Boston Scientific Galway
A recurring theme in the conferences was the role that technology can play in driving workplace engagement in health and safety. Our speakers referenced how if it was made easier for workers to report hazards and become involved in risk assessments, they will feel more invested in the safety process. In order to keep attendees up to speed with developments in health and safety software, our CTO Seán O'Sullivan spoke about the work of our tech team. Seán focused on the Effective Software Engage app and our brand-new Insights dashboards.
Our mobile app Engage allows users to quickly capture and report hazards, bringing health and safety directly into the hands of employees. The Insights dashboards are designed to help users make sense of the data that they collect from the Effective Software system letting them filter and categorise information by location, groups and many other criteria.
CTO Seán O'Sullivan and members of the Customer Success team conduct workshops with customers