Safety and efficiency: collaborators, not competitors
10 May 2022
Protecting staff should be a priority for all businesses, but how can it be done so that productivity isn’t compromised? These aims aren’t diametrically opposed, insists Claire Price of QMS International...
Health & safety is important in all sectors, but for dangerous industries such as manufacturing and engineering, it is paramount.
According to statistics collected by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), 66,000 manufacturing workers sustain injuries each year, with 15 fatal injuries occurring in 2019/20.
Ensuring that the necessary protocols are implemented and maintained can often be viewed as coming at the expense of efficiency and productivity. Yet the two priorities can complement each other and enhance business performance.
QMS International field consultant Kim Van Deere points out that stressed, ill or injured people can make mistakes and may need to take time off work or have phased returns, all of which is inefficient. And employers are beginning to recognise that workers will vote with their feet if they don’t feel that an employer takes care of them, leading to key skills shortages.
The HSE’s 2019/20 report revealed that 51% of new and long-standing cases of work-related ill health were due to stress, depression or anxiety, leading to the loss of 17.9 million working days.
To enhance your business’ efficiency (and the health of your employees), you should therefore look at what your business can do to support the well-being yof staff and remove psychosocial risks within the workplace. You may want to think about introducing an employee assistant programme, training mental health first aiders, or even implementing the guidance recommended by ISO 45003, the new standard for managing psychosocial risks in the workplace.
Bloated procedures not only make your team inefficient but could also make them more complicated to follow, introducing unnecessary risk into the workplace.
So, check whether processes can be streamlinedand are fit for purpose. A review will identify where you can make changes.
Competent, informed staff are less likely to become ill or injured while at work. Their knowledge of best practice will also ensure that their tasks are carried out efficiently as well as safely. Establishing competency and communicating effectively are therefore crucial things to consider if you wish to drive both workplace safety and efficiency.
Training can be supplemented with toolbox talks, which give your team the opportunity to share their learnings and ideas for improvement, whether this relates to health & safety or efficiency.
Meanwhile, manufacturing and engineering are in an ideal position to take advantage of digital technology.The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and automation can be a great way to free up your team to carry out other essential tasks, improve their efficiency with data-driven activity and mitigate health & safety risks.
Remote working could also offer some a better work/life balance for improved well-being and help manage risks at your main workplace.
Implement best practice
To maximise efficiency and health & safety in your workplace, you may want to investigate ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 45001 occupational health & safety management). The former focuses on implementing processes that promote productivity and consistency, reducing errors and ensuring you get it right first time, every time. The latter can help you to reduce workplace risks and the likelihood of injury and illness for better productivity.