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How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Discuss all things health and safety.

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TWDB
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How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by TWDB » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:09 am

All,

I'm a relatively new H&S Professional coming from a operational background. and I seem to / I feel I have lost my way in my newish role

I just wondered if you guys with all your considerable experience and expertise would be able to share some of you wisdom on the following

- getting my self more organized to cope with the new role (time pressures, distractions, time saving techniques
-dealing with management.
-incident stats and reporting
-communication techniques,
-saying NO
- best advice you were given
etc
and any other way to get the job done in the most professional and efficient way possible. (any offer of mentoring would also be appreciated , or even a catch up and picking of brains/ ideas.)


I know that's a broad subject but I hope some people out there can comments back with tips.

thanks

T
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by ssmith65 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:27 am

I try and pride myself on never saying no at least when it comes to health and safety, obviously if you are time pressured for other work and other work comes in you might have to say there will be a delay on that because I`m to busy. I would be scared to thing I ever said no to anyone and that was used as a reason or some form of mitigation should someone untoward happen.

`I went to speak to the health and safety manager but he was far to busy and told me to go away, so I did it all myself.`


I try to take a pragmatic risk based approach to my work and order them in priority as they are received. I think it works well because if I get work that comes in that I believe needs doing I get it done and the staff know that if they have emailed me about a particular job and I haven't picked it up as of yet they know that I`m not worried about it for now, at least if that makes sense to everyone.

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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by TWDB » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:43 pm

thanks ssmaith65.

I agree with the not saying No, I guess where I am I seem to get involved in to many things (on the edge of my H&S role) which I feel I need to say no too. i.e. HR related, PQQ's and others items. (I'm a SHEQ manager with many hats)

I pride my self in helping and assisting everyone.

hope that clarifies
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by CAD » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:05 pm

Interesting thread and I'll keep my eye on it.

I think the big thing I have learnt in my short H&S career is not to take feedback too personally and have in the back of your mind that sometimes the feedback is generated by the environment rather than you as a person. I know I'm guilty of taking things personally at times.

Dealing with management is an interesting one and a difficult one especially if the management see health and safety as an add-on rather than a culture to embed. What's common in my place is people see the words 'Health and Safety' and automatically assume "that's for the health and safety person". When in fact, it's those people who are the specialists in that area and have more knowledge than I do about the subject they are working in.

Lots of people willing to do the bare minimum to get by unfortunately and I don't like to work like that.

Sorry, I see I have rambled and not provided any real answers to your questions but hopefully it may spark a few ideas for someone else :)

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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by Blackstone » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:24 am

Hi T,

I've been in the H&S game for about 8 years, having done my NEBOSH Gen Cert in 2011.
I came from a Quality Management background, taking over H&S when the chap retired at my last company. The culture was pretty pants at the time and I found the best way was to get out on the shopfloor and engage with the workers. They all have their little gripes. If you can start chipping away at those little issue you get them on side for the big ones.

I make a daily to do list based on all the stuff going on (investigations, audits, reporting, RA's, etc) and what is most pressing. Some days I end up getting none of it done but most days you can get a big chunk done. I write the To Do List before I go home so when I arrive in the morning it gives immediate focus.

Some people just know how to speak to managers, others it takes a little more practice, and then there the personalities to deal with. When I first went into meetings with the directors or other managers I could barely get my words out but now I can stand in a room with 60 people and get my point across. I once had to give the MD a good telling off for something he did and had to go through the potential consequences of his actions to make him understand what had happened and what the next steps will be. Its experience. Figure out the people and what gets them on board, everyone is different.
There's the stuff that is enshrined in law and regulation, where you'll need to put across what HAS to be done, then there's the stuff that is nice and fluffy that would benefit the company so a different tack might be needed to convince management its a good idea.

Hope that helps in some way.

Better go and do some work now :)

Glen
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by andybz » Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:50 am

Two philosophies to follow:

1. Focus your efforts on helping your colleagues to do their job safely not telling them what they cannot or should not do. Don't quote regulations but tell them how they can do their job in a way that makes compliance easy. Work with them to overcome problems instead of just pointing out the problems.

2. Remember that there is no such thing as absolute safety. We are in the business of managing risks. Part of that is recognising the benefits of activities as well and not just the potential consequences of failure. Use your safety knowledge to help your colleagues form a better appreciation of risks vs benefits.
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by stephen1974 » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:30 am

TWDB wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:09 am

- getting my self more organized to cope with the new role (time pressures, distractions, time saving techniques
-dealing with management.
-incident stats and reporting
-communication techniques,
-saying NO
- best advice you were given
Organisation.
Planning and Preperation is what this really comes down to and there are a few things that I do that really seem to help.

Spreading the workload. An example, Risk Assessment Reviews. In places I have worked we've had over 200 risk assessments and previous people would try to do them in a month. RA's were written in may so we must review them in may. Pfft. I spread them out so I did x amount per month, with less in busy months where there are more planned things going on, and more in quiet months. You can do this with all sorts of tasks.

Use of a wall chart planning out when to do things. When you PAT is due, when LOLER inspections are due, when fire alarm testing is due and so on. That way you know what is coming up and can make the necessary arrangements well in advance. Nothing gets missed, nothing is last minute. At least on the regular, established items.

Have an approved contractors list and an established chain of authority. So if something pops up you can get the job authorised and assigned without months of flaffing around whilst somone ums and ahs over budgets and quotes. Also, regarding budgets, try and ensure known costs are pre-approved in budgets so you can just do things without having to ask.

Regular tasks on set days. Fire alarm tests, thats every monday at 11am, PUWER checks, thats every tuesday. If you have someone else do things and you dont hear that alarm going off by 11.05, you are on the phone saying, oi muppet, what you doing? or you walk in wednesday morning and there is no evidence of PUWER checks on your desk, get your shock stick out.

Do the filing yourself. If other people do tasks, have an intray on your desk and they have to put the forms in there, so you can see they have been done and then you file them. If they dont get done, you dont get a nasty surprise 2 months later when an external audit says, why has noone been doing your weekly extinguisher checks? because you've gone round and said, oi muppet, feel my shock stick.

Dealing with management.
Can't help you with how to get them to do stuff. Im rubbish at that.
However, butt covering, that I can help you with. Everything goes in writing (emails) and then everything goes home with you (or to getoutofjailfreeevidence@gmail.com) If you have a conversation with someone, confirm what was said in an e-mail or a memo and take a copy, or you will get thrown under a bus, and like most busses, three will come at once. Your line Manager, HR and a HSE persecution.

Communication.
E-mails
Notice Boards (make it a disciplinary offence not to read notice boards)
Memos (that have to be signed)
Regular meetings. (And I do mean regular, not ad hoc, not put off) with proper minutes, not just what someone was able to scribble down.
Regular training. Set training dates in stone, well in advance (with disciplinary action for non attendance) and even stopping people from working (works well for zero hours contracts)

Saying NO.
To who? employees, contractors, managers?
Be confidante in the reasons why you are saying no so you can explain them.
"You can't do that" "why?" "health and safety" is not an acceptable conversation.
If you know what you are talking about you can stand your ground a lot easier than if you dont know or are unsure.
Also, make sure you know what the limit of your authority is. Can you make a decision or do you need to get approval. What is likely to happen if you stop something that effects business? again, know you are right but have evidence to protect yourself.

Best Advice I was Given
get a getoutofjailfreeevidence@gmail.com account. It has saved me more than once.


Of course all the above could be utterly laughable danglies but there is a thunderstorm outside, i cant sleep and I thought id throw this out there :)

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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by Jack Kane » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:28 pm

Your operational experience will be an excellent source to draw on in your newish role. Use that to your advantage when building relationships with other operational folks.

My take on things...

- getting my self more organized to cope with the new role (time pressures, distractions, time saving techniques)
Have you seen the Eisenhower matrix? Check this out, it might be useful. I use it to varying degrees of success, but it does work well for some - https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/

-dealing with management
They're people like you and I. But, in my experience they do tend to want things straight to the point, setting clear requirements, brutal honesty, a positive attitude and options for solutions if possible. Easy :lol: :shock: :roll:

-incident stats and reporting
Meaningful, proactive, relevant, meaningful, meaningful and stats that actually have a bit of use and are meaningful :lol: My point is, we tend to get bogged down with numbers because it's the ones we always count, but do they actually help analyse your performance and give you a chance to prevent accidents in the future? If not, are they just for show and a feel good factor of making the charts look better? If yes, ditch them.

-communication techniques,
Huge fascinating subject, but have a look at Transactional Analysis in relation to behavioural safety - http://www.clairenewton.co.za/my-articl ... -wear.html. There's loads of info out there.

Be nice to people, listen properly, be respectful, be honest...be yourself!

-saying NO
Show them your Eisenhower matrix and give them the opportunity to explain to you why they should jump the queue or even be added to the board in the first place. That way, at least people see you consider all requests equally and fairly.

- best advice you were given
I've had loads of nuggets over the years, difficult to find my favourite or best bit so far, but I'll never forget the day 13 years ago somebody I hold in high regard told me I wouldn't change the world.

I beg to differ!!

I believe that the work we H&S folks do saves lives every single day. We rarely see it at the time, but our passion for keeping people safe and healthy is relentless and infectious.

I dare anybody to tell me that isn't changing the world! :twisted:
TWDB wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:09 am
I know that's a broad subject but I hope some people out there can comments back with tips.
Great topic by the way ./thumbsup..
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by dave247 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:54 am

I actually think saying no is one of the big things to learn and a very good question so I will focus my reply on this on question as I get why you ask it.

Let’s be realistic here as the below happens a lot and I for one have had to learn to say no and it was a hard thing to do because the lesson isn’t really about saying no, it’s about learning to deal with making unpopular decisions and getting out of it with a job and your professional integrity.

Saying no is important.

Say no after being asked to find a way out of something being a RIDDOR

Say no after being asked to look at ways to prevent something being an LTI that may affect their bonus or figures

Say no when told that your reasonable practicable answer to a problem is refused due to cost so they still want to operate unsafely.

Say no to them bringing in that employee in a cast to prevent it being either of the above.

Say no to changing that root cause from a management system or management failure to prevent your boss or your Directors getting the blame.

Say no to anything that may affect you breaching the IOSH code of Conduct.

Say no to something you feel that you are not competent to do - I mean that acknowledging you are not competent at something is part of the definition of competence.

Say no when you are being thrown to many balls to juggle to the point it will affect a. Your mental health and b. Where the standard of the work maybe affected.

The latter is from personal experience as my morals prevented me from saying no to more and more work and I ended up broke and having my first absence in 14 years due to stress. (Made a full recovery but it would have been preventable by saying no as they got extra people in anyway when I went off so would have if I had said no)

Situations where you may have to say no may have to be handled differently so difficult to give you a one size fits al answer but if you are in that situation come on here and ask but no is important.
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by TWDB » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:12 pm

thanks All, great advice - keep it coming
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Re: How to be the best H&S professional I can ? - calling all H&S Colleagues

Post by kevlarion » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:40 pm

The most important part of being an effective manager is respect for whoever is in front of you.
You need these people to trust you even if they don't like you
  • Listen to complaints and do something about them, even if you have to say that after looking at all the options you can't get anything done about it at the moment.
    Witholding information is sometimes called for (eg to protect an identity or protect confidentiality) but never lie. Tell the truth or don't speak.
    Understand that not everyone is as enthusiastic about the subject as you are and make allowances.
    Help people with things they need to do, I tighten a few bolts while I'm talking to the guys in fabrication.
    You have a skill set, especially if you are doing distance learning like so many of us now do, that probably means you can do thigs with word and excel that other people struggle with. Lend them a hand occassionally. It all fosters community and improves your standing, reduces your "Jobsworth" score.
    Have a plan so that when people ask you to do too much you can point to it and ask them what they would like you not to do in order to do the task they are asking.
    Be proactive... not in the cheap management speak of today, but its original meaning. Take responsibility for the things you can affect, and affect them. If you can't affect them then you can either ignore them (if they are having no impact on H&S) or extend your sphere of influence to include the things you care about.
    I started off a quality manager, but I took on H&S, then E, then maintenance and control of maintenance contractors... where I work these things all affect H&S so I swallowed them up into my own role and then streamlined them to work efficiently.
I do say "No" quite often... did it to my MD yesterday in fact, but I say no only under the following criteria :-
  • If it makes me dishonest
    If it is a step backward from good practice
    If I can think of a better (safer / more efficient) way of doing it
    If doing something would break a law.
Most often I don't just say no, I do a bit of research and make some proposals for a better way to do things. I always try to turn a win-lose or lose-lose situation into a win-win situation, and most of the time I succeed. Yesterday I offered alternatives and one of them was accepted as our plan.

I work on the principle that by and large (there may be exceptions) people don't really want to do the wrong thing, but they feel forced by circumstances into doing something that is not right or is a bit grey. If I can offer them something that changes or works around those circumstances then they get what they want (not doing the wrong thing with all the stress and consequences that may ensue) and I get what I want, we move forward safely.

Some things take time, so take the time to do them right. Don't blurt out the first regulation that pops into your head... regulations are important, but our duty is the protection of health and the promotion of safety, it goes beyond regulations. Take the time to find the best answer (obviously don't take forever or allow people to be harmed while you are working on it) and make a bigger improvement.

Plan... for yourself, for your future... don't let it all go stale and become mundane. Health & safety management can become all consuming, but it's important that you have time and freedom to think about other things. What do you want to be doing in 5 years ? How much do you want to earn ? What hobbies (everyone should have at least one) do you want to pursue.

Look after your own mental health and always be ready to consider if you should walk away from a job if it is too stressful for you, or is compromising your ability to enjoy your life. There are always other opportunities for qualified people with a good attitude.

And of course DLTBGYD :)
If it isn't broken, that doesn't mean you can't improve it. (Do three negatives make a positive ?)

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