Frank Forster: Every incident matters

Published on Aug 25, 2021
Frank Forster

Global Head of Corporate Health, Safety, Environment and Quality, Bilfinger

Analysing each incident with the same level of attention is a game-changer as it not only reinforces the importance of safety measures to employees but adds to a much broader understanding of preventable measures. Root cause analysis and solutions conducted at local level which are then fed through to leadership to analyse and implement agreed changes adds support to this approach.

Going the extra safety mile

Attention to personal detail has been key to demonstrating that the company values safety. So each incident will be followed by a personal call from the CEO to the affected employee. The level of positive feedback from employees also suggests this approach is having an impact on raising awareness of safety. Countermeasures put in place as a result could range from significant operational changes to simple steps such as installing more mirrors to prevent cross-traffic collisions. The lesson is that even small steps can make a big difference.

Visualising safety

Connect employees with safety on a more personal and emotional basis. Campaigns have included posters of employees’ mothers on the shop floor to emphasise that safety is also an issue that impacts family outside of the workplace, and a video campaign re-enacting accidents to visually connect employees to actions and behaviours that cause accidents.

But it’s also about changing mindsets. Old safety habits die hard, particularly for mature members of the workforce. Although incidents are fewer and far between, our analysis shows that 80% of accidents in the workplace are the result of actions or shortcuts taken by older employees who are less engaged with risk assessment.

Here, technology has a role to play. The use of drones, apps, artificial intelligence and virtual reality equipment, can be used as virtual safety managers to allow employees to assess risk in advance of taking action. Importantly, building trust across the company ecosystem through inspirational leadership who directly engage with the workforce and demonstrate empathy will be crucial in moving safety to the foreground of everyone’s minds.