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How can you be sure you’re doing the right thing?

Accidents are, by definition, unexpected. However, they’re often predictable when looked at with hindsight. Many disasters happen because of something that people knew was unsafe, but it was accepted as everyone was used to it.

Little things can build up and cause significant damage or injury, so it’s a mistake to overlook them. If you think about the worst thing that could happen, ensuring the little things are safe and working correctly is part of making sure it doesn’t.

Make sure everyone in your organisation is happy to speak up if they see something that could be wrong. A big aspect of continuous improvement is about constantly checking things are as they should be and fixing anything that isn’t as soon as possible. Doing this will ensure you have a safer, healthier, and compliant business.

Use the tools available to you

Displaying good governance can be very hard to nail down. It may just seem like lots of talking and reading reports without ever feeling you’re making an improvement. However, you can use a variety of tools to ensure you’re performing your governance duties well, such as:

  • your organisation’s safety case – sets out challenges, commitments, resources and the high-level approach
  • objectives and policies – clearly state the board’s expectations of staff
  • business plans, organisational risk assessments and budgets – does what is planned match your objectives and is it feasible?
  • worker engagement – what is the shop-floor saying? What are contractors and partners saying? How do you reward/celebrate good culture and success? How do you communicate?
  • reporting:
    • output – are things going to plan (eg project reports, risk management, activity levels, training, maintenance schedules)
    • audit – what deficiencies are being found?
    • compliance – compliance with regulatory standards, interventions by the rail safety regulator
    • outcomes – how are you going against your targets (eg injuries, loss time injuries, incidents, safety tours)
    • benchmarking
      • who do you compare yourself against?
      • who do others (eg regulators) compare you against?
      • can you certify yourself against recognised standards?
      • can you self-evaluate (eg maturity rating scales)?

More information about how to use these tools can be found in the Health and Safety Guide: Good Governance for Directors(external link) document, which was put together by WorkSafe and the Institute of Directors (IoD).

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