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The value of monitoring in the workplace
Monitoring health and safety in a work environment is important as it gives senior management the information they need to make informed decisions on ensuring the work environment remains safe to everyone. The information gathered from monitoring can be used to ensure current working systems and processes are altered where identified as necessary and become more efficient.
Monitoring can take many formats and generally it is covered by audits and inspections. Auditing is a formal process of reviewing and examining current procedures and safe systems. The resultant audit will identify how the workplace is performing and also where the gaps are. An action plan can then be developed by management to review and close all actions identified.
The HSE has produced ‘A guide to measuring health & safety performance’ which gives details on how measuring health and safety performance is organised. They recommend using the following main headings with measuring performance:
- Why measure?
- What to measure?
- When to measure?
- Who should measure?
- How to measure?
So we will review what needs to be considered under each heading.
Within any work environment there should be factual detail available to decision makers to ensure they make informed day to day decisions. One such area where they will make decisions is on the management of health and safety. They will need to ensure that health and safety processes are fit for purpose and bespoke to the needs and risks of their workplace. Making the right decision based on factual data is required. Making the wrong decision will be costly in many ways particularly in wasting resources such as staff time and finances.
What to measure?
There are many different areas of data gathering. The decision on which data to collect and measure depends on the activities within the workplace. Some of the obvious data to collect and measure are incident statistics, number of non-conformances following audits, breaches in legislation and training requirements. More specific data collection could be the detail of mandatory inspections due and completed and equipment failure.
When to measure?
Carrying out audits and inspections and gathering data is difficult during times when the workplace is busy. It is better to pick a quieter time when there is sufficient time for staff to concentrate and ensure the detail that is being collected is factual. Proactive monitoring and measurement is essential as it allows information to be gathered before something has gone wrong within the workplace. An example is inspection and signing of cleaning schedules at planned intervals during the day which will enable the staff to pick up any hazards before an incident occurs.
Who should measure?
Measurement of any data can be undertaken by different staff who are competent in their job role. So a HR adviser could collect and measure data on staff absences from work and a cook can collect and measure data on temperatures within the fridges.
How to measure?
There are different methods when collecting and measuring data on the performance of systems and processes. Including the workforce and gaining their views by discussion and questionnaires will give a good indication of the culture and style of management within the work environment. Analysing data collected can be as simple as collecting all the inspections completed for a year and creating a list of what non-conformances seem to continually emerge. One example is the inspections completed by staff may record that carpet is frayed in different areas and with further investigation it could be identified that it is in the high traffic areas such as by the front and back doors. This information will help the mangers to review the type of flooring in these areas preventing further fraying and ultimately the potential for trip incidents.
Monitoring has an important role to play in the management of health and safety in the workplace. If done well it will enhance the safety culture, supporting the prevention of incidents of any type and help ensure resources within the workplace are used wisely.
QCS have guidance and policies to support your service in meeting the requirements of health and safety.
A guide to measuring health & safety performance:
Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Health and Safety Contributor