There’s an increasing tendency to view risk taking as a “good thing”. Google “risk quotes” and you find such inspirational results as “Take risks. If you win you will be happy. If you lose you will be wise,” and “Life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams.” These words of wisdom are great for encouraging people to be bold and try something new, where the consequences of making a mistake aren’t life-threatening. Unfortunately, being cavalier with risks doesn’t have the same attraction when the potential and very real outcome could be death.
So, in a Health and Safety capacity, and the wider business world, we take steps to manage risk. We assess risks to the business, make judgements over likelihood and impact, take into account mitigating factors, and then work out what else needs to be done to reduce the risk to an a level that we’re comfortable with.
If you want to prioritise risk mitigation and improvements, it makes sense to target the people who are most likely to be able to influence the outcome. So, when we identify risks from fraud, we train the accountants, when we identify risks from not generating enough business, we train the sales team, yet when we identify risks relating to Health and Safety, we seem to train the Boards, the Executives, the Managers, even the Representatives, but rarely do we do more for the people on the front line, those most at risk, than put up some colourful warning signs.
Clearly, we should not ignore various levels of management when it comes to education around risks. They are the ones who are responsible and/or accountable and must be aware of the roles and requirements that their positions entail. The Reps, too, play an invaluable role linking the workers to management, reporting, and keeping abreast of the Health and Safety at Work Act (and here’s a shameless plug for the Reps training we offer as public courses or in house, and as part of a Development Program: https://coachiogroup.com/h-and-s-reps/). Workers, however, tend to be overlooked.
Of course, workers often receive training to be able to give them the practical, operational skills needed to carry out their job. Chainsaw operators get chainsaw training, forklift drivers get forklift training, if you need to wear PPE, you get PPE training to wear it properly. But what about the bigger picture? What could be achieved by helping workers to understand what risk looks like outside of their own immediate area, and looking at the behaviours that make either a positive or negative Health and Safety culture? Give them the right training, the right tools to be able to make better, more informed choices, and suddenly Health and Safety goes from being a necessary add on to an integrated part of the business, bought into by everybody. Risk becomes something that is understood by everyone and, if it’s understood, it’s the first step to becoming monitored and managed.
Giving consideration to the Kaizen practice of “going to Gemba”, literally translated to “the real place”, the act of going to where the problems happen and observing directly is a powerful tool in problem solving, so it makes sense to involve those people who experience the problems first-hand in determining the risks. Investing in the front-line staff means investing in the eyes and ears of the business. Enabling them to better understand risks and the implications of risks going unmanaged gives business owners and leaders a distinct advantage over those who rely on their own, sometimes detached view of the issues. The risks don’t quite manage themselves, but they certainly become more manageable.
At Coachio Group, we’ve recognised this as a significant opportunity for organisations who strive to be remarkable. They can take a wholistic risk management approach and improve the engagement at all levels in Health and Safety, and the associated benefits from their exceptional people who know that their leaders are invested in their safety.
Our Operational Risk Workshop is designed to be tailored to your needs and the needs of the people on the course. It can be anything from a 90-minute introduction or refresher to a full day in depth session. You can find more details here, or get in touch with us to find out more information.