Is Health on a level playing field with Safety?

Over the last few years, the “H” in H&S has started to receive a lot more attention, and as we know, wherever an organisation places its focus and efforts to, the desired output can be achieved.
Until recently, safety was the one receiving a lot more attention (i.e. “we always talk about safety first in meetings”), and it certainly has paid off. For example, Lost Time Injury (LTI) and Total Recordable Injuries (TRIR) rates have continued to decrease within the Oil and Gas industry. This shows that when organizations focus on such a topic, they can achieve excellence. Therefore, it states the question, what if we pay more attention to health? Will we see the same results?
This was the thought of one of our recent clients who had recognised that their Sickness Absence Rate (SAR) had remained relatively stagnate at an average of 4.5% for over 10 years, even though their Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF) had decreased from 5.4% to 2.0%.
Our client decided they needed to do something about this. They first presented their findings to their people on a global scale, thus raising awareness of the situation and informing everyone of some basic tools available to them that can have a positive impact on health. This is where DEKRA was successfully selected to become engaged in their health-focused project, by deploying our team of professional trainers to facilitate their direction of cultural change regarding health.
The project’s initiation started with the gathering of key leaders and employees with expertise in the business, to ensure the material (designed originally by our client) delivered by the DEKRA training team was translated as accurately as possible for each country. Furthermore, we were able to gain an in-depth understanding of their tools and culture to aid with the delivery of the workshop. This input was vital to the subsequent success of the project.
The workshop delivery was engaging and interactive with many breakouts and group tasks to complete. This allowed individuals to share learnings from each other’s experiences as well as practice skills which they had been introduced to in the workshop.
Two years later and over 130 workshops, approximately 1560 training hours, delivered to over 1300 leaders in 4 countries, the impact of the programme is starting to show results. With a 0.7% mean reduction in SAR across various business units, we can genuinely say that where energy is expended, results are gained.
One of the Senior Leaders within the organisation said: “The project with DEKRA was not a standalone attempt to create change. I can`t say what our rate would be if we had not have embarked on the project, but I can bet it would be far worse than it is now”.
Our client knew that health was a topic that needed more attention and this programme has managed to ensure that health is treated as an important subject throughout the organisation. We believe many companies don’t speak about health as much as they should, but it is starting to occur more and more which is encouraging. In fact, in 2017, in the UK, the rate of self-reported musculoskeletal disorders had decreased and continues to show a downward trend suggesting physical health is improving in the workplace. However, the same report indicated the rate of self-reported stress, depression or anxiety was increasing. (Source: http://www​.hse​.gov​.uk/statistics/history/index​.htm )
This begs the question, is mental health receiving the same amount of attention as physical health or safety is?
Author: James Cooke, Senior Consultant, DEKRA
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