Safety advisers need to communicate authentically and inspire the people around them.

Our tried and tested formula has worked in the past, but continuing to do what we have always done is failing. The world is much more sophisticated, hyper-connected and ultra competitive.

We cannot ignore the harsh realities and tough choices that our economy faces. Traditional business structures and relationships are breaking down. Business leaders are having to evolve as well; from hierarchy to shared responsibility, from command and control to listening and guiding.

Safety practitioners can no longer rely on their positional or technical authority. They need to develop the skills to communicate authentically and to inspire people around them.

The health and safety brand!

We need to understand the importance and impact of the health and safety brand. Current media and political challenge strikes at the very root of our existence. We need to rebuild trust and earn new respect.

Brands are all around us, reinforcing reputation, maintaining loyalty and reflecting worth.
Brand is the way that we let people know what we stand for and why that is important in their lives.

To understand our brand we need to consider its positioning and design.

To reposition our brand we need to get better at story telling and relationships.

People do judge a book by its cover

Steve Jobs’s early mentor Mike Markkula wrote him a memo in 1979 that urged three principles. The first two were “empathy” and “focus.” The third was an awkward word, “impute,” but it became one of Jobs’s key doctrines. He knew that people form an opinion about a product or a company on the basis of how it is presented and packaged. “Mike taught me that people do judge a book by its cover”.
This really applies to health and safety. The health and safety brand is out there and needs to change.

New year, new health and safety!

The future of health and safety is all about simplicity. Without a new level of clarity and simplicity, it will continue to feel like health and safety lacks the confidence to effectively explain what we are, what we do and what we are trying to achieve. If we are to design an offer that is attractive to our customers then we have to realise that less is more and work harder at stripping out the superfluous from what we do.

Health and safety needs to be easier to understand, administer and enforce. Managers often feel overwhelmed when faced with the many things they need to do to comply with health and safety legislation. We need to take the complexity away by expressing health and safety in a plain, simple, natural manner and this simplicity has to pervade every aspect of what we do.

The most popular SHP Feature articles of 2012

Our most popular features in 2012

CPD article – Tides of opinion

David Branson compares the legal concepts of ‘reasonably practicable’ and ‘reasonably foreseeable’, in respect of breaches of health and safety law and civil liability for accidents, and explores the changing interpretation of both terms by the courts.
London 2012 – A question of trust

With the countdown to the largest sporting event in UK history now in full swing it would be easy to forget what has already been achieved by the London 2012 Olympics, such as the impressive safety record of ‘the big build’. Caroline Sugden and Nicola Healey explain how safety culture – and, in particular, health and safety trust – was developed, fostered and measured on the Olympic Park site.

Developing the profession – Brand of opportunity

In the first of a series of articles examining what practitioners can learn from the business practices of some of the most successful companies in the world, Peter Roddis looks at how ‘brand’ has the power to change the world of health and safety.

Occupational health – Lighting the way

What can be learnt from the award-winning occupational-health provision on the Olympic Park and Athletes’ Village construction projects, and replicated on the more typical site? Claire Tyers evaluates its potential legacy.

Environment – Scene to be green

The Government’s current appetite for relaxing the reporting requirements for health and safety incidents doesn’t appear to be matched in the environmental sphere. Martin Baxter explains the current regulatory scene on green issues, the changes in reporting on the horizon, and the opportunities opening up for both health and safety and environmental practitioners.

To read the articles and more click here to go to the SHP feature articles index

What health and safety professionals can learn from the business practices of some of the world’s most successful companies

What health and safety professionals can learn from the business practices of some of the world’s most successful companies.

I have recently published a series of articles in SHP and my most recent was in October 2012, please click to read the full article
Lets face the music

The future of health and safety depends on Active Safety Management and simplicity

My recent article examines the importance of obsessing over the customer experience. How our role is not just about pushing knowledge of health and safety to those whose minds we want to change but also about engaging people in an active partnership, or dialogue, where we also try to understand where they are coming from, thus resulting in more creative and innovative outcomes. We need to think more in terms of the dance; moving with those around us, rather than telling others to dance to our tune

Focus and simplicity were Steve Jobs’ mantras and my article explores how important these are to health and safety. Our focus has got to be on the outcomes and not just on the regulations. If we are to design an offer that is attractive to our customers then we have to realise that less is more, and work harder at stripping out the superfluous from what we do.

We need a clean break with the past. Overly cautious and limiting expert opinion, made in isolation from the reality of the businesses we work for, will not influence anyone. We need to develop the confidence to explain effectively who we are, what we do and what we are trying to achieve. To do this, we can “walk the straight path of simplicity, or choose the dark winding road of complexity”; the choice is ours.
Developing the profession – Let’s face the music
01 October 2012
To read the full version of my article in the Safety and Health Practitioner in October 2012, please click
Lets face the music

Brand of opportunity – The health and safety brand matters!

According to Gallup, we are attracted to brands not merely because they meet our rational requirements but because they meet our emotional needs. To engage people and build relationships with the health and safety brand we need passion, enthusiasm and sense of purpose. As practitioners, we need to understand how our role fits into the bigger picture of our employers’ or clients’ business, and to align health and safety policies with their objectives. To be successful in this we need to see the world through our customers’ eyes, understand what motivates them to act, and have insight into why they make the decisions they do. We need to be constantly thinking about how we communicate with them. We need to ensure that health and safety is part of their business planning, forecasting and strategy, and not a separate add-on. An obsession with regulations, HSE guidance and codes of practice will engage no one, outside of the profession. The real value added by health and safety is in applying a detailed knowledge of the business, having the ability to quickly identify gaps, and proactively support and enable delivery of safe business outcomes. That means we need to do a much better job of selling ‘the connection between a healthy, safe workforce and a healthy business balance sheet’.
However, our challenge when dealing with managers, teachers, academics, engineers, civil servants and business people is not only to speak the same language but to win hearts and minds. We have become too focused on reason and forgotten that emotions are the processes we use to assign value. If we can demonstrate that health and safety is about customers achieving their dreams, then we are more likely to win them over. It is crucial for us to understand that people cannot make sensible decisions without emotions, because they wouldn’t know how much anything is worth. We also have to accept that, in reality, decisions are made by imperfect minds in ambiguous circumstances. Thus, working more closely with managers will enable us to provide more realistic and pragmatic support and have greater influence at strategic and operational levels. Passion creates interest, but a long-term relationship can’t be maintained unless the brand proves its ability to deliver. To be successful, health and safety needs to nurture win-win relationships that are continuously strengthened through interactive, individualised and value-added contact. This suggests a need for a range of new and different job-focused skills for practitioners, under-pinned by health and safety competencies and knowledge. Our success will depend on us gaining a better understanding of the businesses we work for. To develop this, we need to have strong personal credibility, and this depends on our ability to influence, communicate, motivate and deliver support services that managers can relate to. It is time for the profession to look at how it can bring softer people skills into its core competency framework.
To read the full article go to Brand of Opportunity

My new article explores the importance of simplicity in health and safety

Lets Face the Music

The focus of my new article Lets face the music develops the theme of the first article in this series Brand of opportunity . The theme is about how the world is changing faster than ever and how the health and safety profession needs to evolve and think differently. If we want to maintain our influence and thrive, we need to create a new context based on new behaviours. If we are to connect with emerging generations, we have to realise that they have different values and expectations.
My earlier article Its only just begun explored how emerging generations have different expectations and how this will change and is already impacting on the workplace. Generation Y and Generation Z have very different expectations and communicate differently, using social networking. Emerging generations expect simplicity and do not relate to over complicated instructions and processes. Technological change has created an expectation that simple interfaces, style and ease of use are what the world is about.
The view, promoted by the media, is that health and safety has lost it’s way and become extremely bureaucratic and overbearing and this seems to have become the safety brand! We have to change and that means that we have to think more carefully about our interactions, and sell the benefits, so people really understand why health and safety is important. We need to change how we communicate and need to sell the benefits of health and safety. We need to move as far away as possible from the media perception that we are the fun police and over reliant on an overbearing and legalistic approach.
My article explores how simplicity can help us move forward and how we can learn about this from the business world; from the likes of Apple, who have revolutionised the way that the world works and interacts.
Have a read and led me know what you think. We need a debate about the future of the profession, lets start one now.

Lets face the music

How to thrive rather than just survive

Spoke at this event in September 2012. Interesting start when I asked the question “Does the profession need to change”. The majority of hands in the room went up. It was good to see a real enthusiasm for change, as the future of the profession depends on it.

I talked about the government and media views of health and safety and how this affected our brand. Then went on to talk about technology and its impact along with the socio economic changes that are occurring.

We need to think differently and behave differently to be able to communicate with emerging generations who have grown up with new technology and social networks.

I talked about the new context for health and safety and how ‘active safety management’ could provide that. This requires a business partnership approach, built on an understanding of business imperatives. How we need to shape our advice by starting with why, rather than what and how. Evidence based pragmatic advice communicated with clarity and simplicity, not overbearing bureaucratic advice based on policing and telling people what to do to comply with the law.

I ended by saying that my presentation was a call to action and how everyone in the room needed to take the initiative.