Give the benefit of your expertise to small suppliers
Tuesday 21st February 2017
From the archive: Just so you know, this article is more than 3 years old.
In most cases a push for supply chain improvement, whether it was cutting energy and materials use or pollution control, balanced the stick with the carrot.
Suppliers might be advised they would be expected to cut waste by a set percentage or to achieve accreditation for their management system by a certain date or they would lose a contract. But the client organisation often provided encouragement and advice to help them reach that point by the deadline.
When I switched focus to safety and health management 12 years ago, I was struck by the absence of parallel initiatives.
There was, and is, a lot of talk of control of contractors; employers check that anyone providing a service on their worksites or premises is capable of basic worker protection. Increasingly, organisations screen potential contractors to see if they have poor OSH records.
But the impetus for this due diligence is principally legal compliance, since liability for accidents to contractors' workers can be shared by the client -- evidenced in Britain by many prosecutions under s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
But there are signs of a broader approach among some employers. Vodafone and developer Land Securities, among others, roll up injuries among contractors' employees into their own in reporting OSH metrics publicly. "Owning" those accidents gives the clients a very strong interest in managing them down. That may still necessitate a "my way or the highway" approach in some cases, severing ties where suppliers prove unable or unwilling to reach an acceptable standard.
But it leads some to make an effort to support contractors in raising their games, sharing good practice and support materials.
If IOSH members in large- and medium-sized organisations can find the time to share their expertise in keeping their employees safer and healthier with smaller suppliers then their influence will be felt in the part of the employment market that contributes disproportionately to accident rates.
The institution's executive director of policy, Shelley Frost, has predicted before in IOSH Magazine that safety and health management will become an important component of corporate sustainability and responsibility measurement. If that's true, then encouraging good OSH practice all the way down the supply chain could gain practitioners some credit, as well as being a good in itself.
Environmentalists are fearful of the implications of the UK leaving the EU and potentially weakening environmental protection. They also despair of President Trump’s denial of climate change and appointments of representatives of “big oil” to key positions. Safety in the workplace may not be immune from these influences.
We are all part of a storytelling revolution and most of us haven’t even noticed.For two millennia, stories have been told that have shaped our identity and culture. They are part of the fabric of our lives, providing a valuable reference point so that we are able to make sense of what is going on around us. Today, the relevance and value of storytelling as one of our engagement tools is being challenged. This is both a significant risk and a huge opportunity for us.
The global conflicts hastened the crumbling of old class structures. In a couple of decades in the third quarter of the 20th century phrases such as “your elders and betters”, “knowing your place” and having “ideas above your station” passed from commonplaces to anachronisms.Among those born in the 1990s and after, that erosion of automatic respect seems to have continued. People in their teens and 20s are more likely than ever to ask for the reasoning behind any instruction.
Companies with more than 50 employees must set out the hours when they do not expect employees to send or answer emails. The justification for the law is that workers were not being paid fairly for the unofficial overtime the evening and weekend correspondence involved.
We have become so dependent on its services it is easy to forget how young the mobile phone industry is. The first cellular networks were established only in the early 1980s. Vodafone was in at the beginning. It evolved from the military radio division of the British electronics giant Racal and launched its first public network in 1985.Rapid growth followed, first in the UK, then internationally. It is now one of the biggest global operators, with 470 million customers on its mobile networks in 26 countries and another 14 million for fixed lines.
In recent years, UK governments have questioned the role of OSH legislation, the safety and health culture that has developed since the Health and Safety at Work Act and, of course, the work of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Although the rearguard action mounted by practitioners’ bodies to argue the value of improvements in safety performance has been largely successful, it has had an unintended consequence of uniting the whole health and safety “community” as HSE supporters, almost as flag wavers from the sidelines.
Safety interventions should be practicable and cost-effective, but too much of an imbalance towards safety does not make economic sense for employers, argues Geoff Vaughan, who suggests ‘gross disproportion’ provides a practical limit.
Unions have voiced concerns that employers that use agency workers to fill safety-critical roles during strikes could, potentially, be putting employee safety at risk if they haven’t been fully trained.