Creating the Right Health and Safety Culture at Board Level

Neil HartleyHealth & Safety Case StudiesLeave a Comment

Celebrating health and safety success with Berkeley Homes

If you ask any health and safety manager, they will say it is impossible to develop a truly effective health and safety culture in an organisation if you don’t have board-level participation. Participation is very different from buy-in where the board agrees to put in place a health and safety policy and then delegates all responsibility. Boards need to go further than this.

This is exactly what has happened at Berkeley Homes East Thames. It is a large UK housing developer working on various sites building hundreds of homes. It has about 250 managers plus about 1,500 workers on-site.

Like other businesses in the construction industry, health and safety is of critical importance. The dispersed nature of the workforce will also be a familiar challenge to anyone who has worked in construction health and safety.

What Did Berkeley Homes East Thames Do?

Berkeley Homes East Thames implemented many policies and initiatives that improved health and safety performance in the company. The key point, however, is that all this stems from one decision – that health and safety is a strategic issue that requires direct involvement of the board.

In other words, the directors drove the development of a positive health and safety culture. In doing this, the directors made a commitment to ensure all employees are safe. This commitment also extends to third-parties that come into contact with the work the company does.

One of the steps Berkeley Homes East Thames took was to assign the company’s operational director with overall health and safety responsibility. It also encouraged the active participation of people at all levels of the company, including senior management, in health and safety issues.

This active participation includes everyone having a responsibility to identify risks and take actions that mitigate those risks.

Practical Measures

Here are some of the other practical steps that Berkeley Homes East Thames took to improve its health and safety performance:

  • All meetings in the company have an agenda that has health and safety as the number one item. This applies to board meetings as much as it does to project meetings and on-site meetings.
  • The board receives a health and safety report every month detailing performance. This ensures all board members are aware of the current position which improves health and safety strategic decision-making.
  • Members of the board are also involved in creating and developing the company’s health and safety policy.
  • The company also introduced innovative initiatives. This includes providing breakfast to employees to help them maintain good levels of blood sugar during the course of the working day
  • The company also helped its partners improve their health and safety performance.
  • It improved the sharing of information on health and safety issues between contractors on site as well. This was achieved using a surprisingly simple technique – ensuring all those contractors could use the same on-site office. With the contractors in the same office, communication was much easier.
  • All employees get job-specific training plus there are risk assessments carried out on every significant on-site activity.

So, now for the big question – have its efforts been successful. To answer that, you just have to look at the RoSPA awards winners’ list for 2017 – Berkeley Homes East Thames won one of the most prestigious – the Sir George Earle Trophy.

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