One of our clients made an interesting observation during the period of full-on COVID-19 lockdown. While their manufacturing output continued at close to normal volumes, their strong social distancing measures led them to take team leaders and production managers off the shop floor, leaving workers to get on with the job unsupervised. During that period, and for the first time ever in that length of time, they had no safety incidents at all.
So why was that? It could have been because workers were generally much more health and safety aware because of the loud volume of external media messages about health and safety – people were just being extra cautious. Or it could have been that they did have safety incidents but just did not report them because they felt they could ‘get away with it’ with no managers around. Or was it because with no managers around the workers felt less complacent about safety and took full personal responsibility for it as there was no one else to rely on?
In the few years that I’ve been helping large organisations to shape and improve their environment, health and safety culture, we’ve supported an increasing shift in the conversation from people being the problem to people being the solution.