I want to share a 'safety moment' of sorts with you, to emphasise that leadership and workforce engagement, if nurtured in a proactive way, can actually improve efficiency and safety performance generally. But then you already know that...don't you?
I appreciate that we are going through a tough time, believe me I see it every day! During these tough times we require leaders to step up their game and demontrate that, when it comes to health and safety, standards will not drop but will continue to improve. Leaders need to manage in a way that ensures the message on health and safety remains robust, consistent and, most importantly, appropriate. If leaders don't do this, they risk being accused to exploiting an opportunity and instead using the 'safety message' as a means to an end. With this comes disillusionment and disengagement, and the safety culture can be irreparably damaged.
It therefore depresses me to convey this story to you as, not only does it undermine the safety message, it is also grossly inefficient, as I'm sure you will agree.
I was asked to represent a member at a disciplinary hearing, the charge being "failure to comply with health and safety procedures, gross misconduct." The member was suspended on full pay. Due to the time associated with the investigatory process, he missed his scheduled trip and a replacement was mobilised, so two people being paid for the same job!
He had to travel to Aberdeen from the south of England, and due to logisitcs and the timing of the hearing, he required two nights' accommodation in Aberdeen on top of his travel expenses and meals. His employer also organised taxis to take him to the company offices and return him to the hotel. I'll let you do the sums.
The event which warrented all of this time and expense had occurred midway through his previous offshore trip. Nevertheless, he completed his trip without any indication there was an outstanding issue and indeed was home for a week before being contacted and told the matter was being investigated and could lead to disciplinary action. An investigatory hearing took place by telephone before the decision was taken to proceed to a formal disciplinary hearing.
On arriving at the company headquarters we were shown to a room where we met the operations manager, the HR manager and the HR coordinator who would take notes. All very busy people committed to dealing with this matter in a fair and timely manner. And so the discussion commenced around the "gross misconduct" allegation which brought the five of us together in a room at some considerable cost and time - he didn't have an ear plug in his right ear when he was stopped and asked about hearing protection!
My 'safety moment' to you all, and to paraphrase from an industry leader quoted in the Press and Journal recently: