In this webinar, hosted by EcoOnline, Michael O’Connor (Mercury Engineering and 'Making Safety Personal' co-founder), Dan Hobbs (Protex AI), and Darragh Geoghegan (EcoOnline) discuss whether technology aids or hinders the achievement of a "personal touch" when it comes to safety in the workplace. Key takeaways are highlighted below.
In an insightful presentation given by Michael O’Connor, co-founder of MSP (Making Safety Personal framework), we learn about the MSP journey. With the implementation of this framework organisations receive ample feedback from employees on how the company can do better.
The 'pause’ program is something that a prominent construction company across Europe has introduced and has been wildly adapted in the last 8 years. It's purpose is to empower employees to feel comfortable to stop/pause their job if they feel at risk of injury/damaging services. The ‘pause’ program allows for all employees from apprentices to managers to call for a ‘pause’ rather than to call for an overall ‘stop’ which can be a decision many employees don’t feel obliged to make.
The philosophy driven from the framework is that ‘We work to live, not live to work’. The holistic approach teaches employees that they have a purpose inside and outside of the workplace and that any risk of injury is not worth taking.
Any safety message can be driven home by one conversation a day. The power of engagement drives a huge momentum in creating a safety culture. Consistency is key in this approach.
From a EHS perspective, how would you try get more of a buy-in of safety within a company who may not be as committed to safety culture?
Michael: ‘For any cynics out there, companies who don’t prioritize safety are not performing to their full potential. A company who is not fully committed to safety are not as productive as they could be’.
Darragh: ‘Working for a company who cares about the health and safety of their staff and guaranteeing they go home safe gives a sense of passion and purpose for staff. It makes the work experience far more pleasing. One of the most effective ways to practice prevention of incidents is to ask 'what? why? and where?' and technology can really help us with this goal.'
Where does technology come into this?
Giving sporadic mounds of information can be overwhelming to an employee, for example if you give a report to an employee the information may not be digested fully. Rather drip feed bite-size chunks of knowledge so it's easier to take in.
As an example, by using Protex AI's camera software, Marks & Spencer's were able to gather large amounts of data within the workplace to identify where any risks were. By presenting this data back to employees M&S were able to retrain and adopt a better buy in from a safety point of view. The result of this led to a 43% increase in compliance.
It’s important to note that the data is not making decisions for you but rather that you are making data informed decisions.
From psychological perspective, employees will often practice safety procedures in the presence of a manager however the goal is for staff to always practice safety procedures. Michael suggested that using psychological tools such as particular thoughts/triggers to reconnect an employee’s focus into their health and safety training can be an effective approach going forward.
Michael talked about one courageous construction worker who openly spoke about his battle with mental health during a workshop in front of his colleagues. The result of this was that the group became closer and as whole they thought differently of themselves. It was a significant moment for the group but also in journey for MSP.
What data is most important to track in terms of health and safety?
The answer to this question depends on the size, maturity of business and how far a long they are into a health and safety culture. To begin with, engagement in safety is highlighted as important angle to look at, for example the level of reporting/observations.
The fundamental goal to achieve a complete buy-in from employees into incident reporting will always remain. Technology can help us achieve this goal by giving people the ability to report in the right place at the right time using mobile devices and geo-location. The immediate data allows for businesses to make improvements using these types of data.
To summarize, to achieve buy-in from workers, it is important everyone has a complete understanding of safety in the workplace. How do we do this? By presenting a holistic view to safety at work. Firstly, to make safety personal for an employee they should be given a sense of purpose inside and outside their place of work. Secondly, rather than telling an employee what to do or not to do, with the use of technology, simply showing employees accurate data has more positive effect. The act of showing and not telling creates a better culture and attitude towards safety.