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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

H&S: the future

H&S: the future
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A major UK study designed to detect where health and safety is going has confirmed a significant shift is under way from a focus on process (rules) to outcomes (based on informed local decisions).

The research results, commissioned by IOSH and carried out by multiple academic institutions over five years, will be fully revealed in a book to be published in early 2017. However a summary of the findings contains much of interest, including that in dynamic work environments, worker-led solutions should not be dismissed as ‘work-arounds’ but embraced as an opportunity to learn.

“Formal, rule-oriented approaches that may have been important for traditional extractive and heavy industries are not a good fit for contemporary workplaces,” the report notes. “Even in high-hazard environments, there are serious questions about whether rule-following and an emphasis on process may compromise OSH outcomes if workers are not able to raise concerns at points where the process seems to be failing.”

Similarly, researchers concluded scenario-based training is likely to achieve better outcomes than rules-based training, as it encourages workers to focus on outcomes rather than procedures and improves their capacity to analyse risk and improvise safe solutions. Managers, therefore, should resist the urge to control things that do not need to be controlled, while holding workers accountable for their decisions.

The report notes another aspect of dynamic work environments is a more transient and culturally diverse workforce, disconnected from traditional informal knowledge networks. These “structural barriers to knowledge flow” need to be recognised and explicitly addressed.



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