What more can I do?
We often reach the stage where our clients' management throw their hands up in frustration stating “what more can I do” after we report back to them their workers are still wilfully ignoring the H&S safe working practices put in place.
It can be as fundamental as workers refusing to wear the required PPE on site as a challenge to see if management will enforce the new regime.
It is a common problem as small firms start growing and hit a barrier where their lack of past H&S compliance suddenly becomes an issue.
It may be the firm has secured a lucrative contract with a larger firm that demands their workers now conform to a higher standard of H&S compliance than they are used to. The more urgent situation is where the firm has fallen foul of the HSE and need to demonstrate an improvement in standards within the given time allowed to avoid further action.
The Legal Position
Although Section 7 of HASAW 1974 requires workers to co-operate with their employers in observing the health and safety measures they introduce, failure by the senior management to take all the necessary steps to resolve identified and wilful non-compliance can still put them in the dock (Section 37).
We will never tire from restating the same mantra. If a worker suffers harm at work, the authorities automatically view the management as being guilty of a breach of the H&S Act. All that remains to be done is to decide the degree of culpability and punishment to be applied.
So, the answer to the question of “what more can I do” is “whatever is required” to make sure the desired level of compliance is achieved. Until that happens ... everyone is at risk of suffering the consequences of an accident happening at work.
It comes down to the management having to apply the stick or the carrot in whatever measure it takes to secure compliance within the given timeframe.
The ‘carrot’ of rewarding workers who comply should be the first step to take.
For example, you could allocate all workers 10 points at the start of every month, and any breaches by one worker loses everyone on that site a point. At the end of the month any worker who still holds 5 or more points receives a reward of some kind.
The 'reward' has to be of real value to the workers involved. Some firms find something as simple as awarding the workers who have earned their monthly bonus, an hour's paid leave that can be banked or used as required. The incentive works well, but the downside is the administrative overhead of running the scheme.
The same system also provides the opportunity to wield the ‘stick’ as well.
The point system will quickly identify those workers who consistently score less than 5 points. Once you know who is undermining your compliance scores, they can be targeted for extra attention by the management to correct their attitude to H&S. If all else fails, you can use the accumulated evidence and take them through the usual disciplinary procedure to dismiss them. As harsh as it may be, there comes a point with some persistent defaulters where dismissal is the only option left to management.
Why should everyone suffer for the failure of just one person?
We suggest all workers on the site should suffer the loss of a point for any single breaches because it tends to encourage the majority to close ranks on those who regularly breach the H&S rules as soon as the management’s back is turned. Peer group pressure can often turn around a non-compliant individual far faster than any number of managerial pep-talks.