Chris Kenneally, CEO at Cordant Services writes his first article for Infologue.com about Health & Safety. Chris writes: “When I sat down to write the business strategy for the launch of Cordant Services last year the first words on the page were ‘Health & Safety.’ It’s fair to say they were quickly followed by the words ‘People’, ‘Performance’ & ‘Growth’, but Health & Safety was top of the list.
“As CEO I see my primary responsibility as making sure that everyone that works for us goes home at the end of the day and I take that responsibility very seriously.
“Over the years I have seen many businesses just paying lip service to health and safety – viewing it as a box ticking exercise rather than a real live topic. They have learned how to manage the legislation but don’t address the base causes that are generally human error, distraction or failure to follow the right procedures.
“One of my first appointments at Cordant Services was a highly experienced SHEQ Director, Mark Elton who is equally evangelical about all things health and safety. He has helped the business to develop and implement a number of key initiatives that ensure it remains at the top of our agenda.
“For example at the start of every SMT meeting we have a ninety minute slot where we invite members of the operational team to come in and talk to us about both poor practice and best practice. We then have a ‘lessons learned’ debrief. On average we spend around a third of our time during these meetings every month discussing health and safety.
“When employee welfare is at stake I believe it is vital to act quickly and getting timely information is key to this. To facilitate this we took the decision to centralise the reporting of all health and safety incidents through our National Control Centre, utilising a sophisticated database. The system compiles a report of all the previous days incidents at 1am and sends it to each Director so that they can view it first thing in morning. This means that any actions needed can be taken swiftly.
“I am always in favour of using technology where possible and my team has developed a new mobile application to help support another key element of our Health & Safety Programme. The bespoke application underpins the company’s Director Engagement Programme where members of the senior team visit our sites to meet with staff and look at the way things are done. The new app can be used on a phone, tablet or laptop and enables Cordant Services’ Directors to update key findings, lessons learned and flag any concerns in real time to the company’s National Communications Centre Database. It helps ensure that more time is spent communicating and not completing forms.
“I think it is important to ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’ in all areas of business, particularly health and safety. That is why we as a business have a zero tolerance policy on any health and safety breaches. This can seem quite harsh in some cases but it is important that we consistently apply it.
“For example we recently had an incident in which one of our security guards apprehended a shoplifter and chased him outside the shop. He successfully caught him but injured himself in the process. With this particular customer we have a 2-metre rule – that is as far as our security guards are allowed to act – which he clearly broke. Despite the fact that our customer was extremely pleased with him and the shop staff saw him as a hero, we put him through a disciplinary process and gave him some re-training to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. We applied the zero tolerance policy and we were right to do so.
“There is no doubt that a safe and comfortable working environment creates a happier and more productive workforce. Having a major incident can be extremely expensive and any resulting legal action is also very time consuming. It can damage your reputation irreparably with customers, suppliers and members of the general public. In conclusion there are many reasons for having a robust health and safety policy, not least that it makes good business sense.”
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