SAFETY IN ENGINEERING FEATURE Engineering a safer environment


hen thinking of ‘health and safety’, it’s easy to automatically

default to images of high-vis and hard hats. However, it’s vital that firms go beyond physical health and encompass psychological fitness too. By speaking openly about mental

health in a shared forum, organisations can slowly break down any stigma that still surrounds the notion of discussing thoughts and feelings out loud. Here, Darrell Johnson, SHEQ manager at high-voltage electrical engineering contractors, Smith Brothers, explains how to look after all elements of health and wellbeing. There’s little point in trying to foster

a culture around health and safety if your business proposition doesn’t complement it. Employee wellbeing should be an agenda item at the monthly board meeting, and one which sits on a par with the balance sheet and sales pipeline. Only once you have the buy-in of the leadership team, can you really begin to make a difference.

POLICY AND PROCEDURE Produce a bespoke policy and procedure which considers the nuances of your company. Speak to colleagues in order to establish what genuinely matters to them, and be open to the differences between those working in the office and those who might spend most of their time on the road – it’s important that every employee feels they have had an input into the decision-making. Of course, while it is a legal

requirement to consult with your team on health and safety, it shouldn’t just

be about ‘ticking a box’. Regular, honest conversations can be a useful tool to make your workplace a safer and more productive place, and teammates will respect you for asking for their opinion – and acting on it. It’s important to review the

documentation regularly too, as well as update it in line with legislative changes, practical matters, or a shift in mindset. Above all, make sure the team is briefed and there are copies in places they will be seen – to ensure they don’t sit on a shelf, gathering dust.

RISK ASSESSMENTS AND METHOD STATEMENTS As with your health and safety policy, it’s important that risk assessments and method statements don’t run the risk of becoming another ‘tick-box exercise’. These documents should be created in collaboration with the workers who physically carry out the job on a day- to-day basis – as they are the ones who know what might go wrong. Make sure equipment is regularly

serviced and any necessary repairs are carried out promptly. It’s also good practice to create a maintenance timetable to safeguard that nothing gets forgotten. So, diarise regular checks to identify areas which need attention – before they become a real problem. Although it might sound obvious, one

of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of an accident is to keep things tidy. Clearing away tools and equipment and making sure there are no unnecessary items lying around, will reduce the risk of trips and falls, as well as make for a more pleasant working environment.


There’s little point in trying to foster a culture around health and safety if your business proposition doesn’t complement it

SKILLS AND TRAINING Developing a skills matrix according to job type is an excellent starting point when it comes to recognising the type of training the team needs – as well as any minimum requirements during recruitment. There should be ample opportunity to requalify and upskill as time progresses too, with close monitoring of any accreditation expiry dates to ensure refresher courses are organised and attended without disruption to work in progress. By empowering employees to bolster

their own skillset, and stay abreast of any industry changes, companies will automatically instil a sense of loyalty and pride in individuals. When we think of safety training, we

must consider mental health as well. Hosting regular ‘toolbox talks’ – which include discussions around emotional wellbeing – will gradually help to break the stigma that can sometimes be associated with talking about your feelings. Those really looking to go the extra mile can look to implement a separate mental health policy, undergo an organisational wellbeing assessment or investigate the potential of formal training for mental health first aiders. Finally, it’s incredibly important to

give back. Give someone a proverbial pat on the back for a job well done, encourage more experienced team members to view themselves as a mentor for others, or invest in internal communications to share inter- company news.

Smith Brothers


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