In the UK we are on track for our safest year ever. We will have injured fewer people and had fewer people taking time off due to an injury than ever before.
The injury rates are noticeably better than last year, which was the best year we’d had so far. Sustained results like this aren’t luck – this is genuine great performance and I want to take the opportunity to say a big thank you for your contributions to this.
However, I’m writing this with a slight sense of nervousness. Saying that ‘we’ve injured fewer people’ is exactly the same as saying ‘we’ve injured some people’ and that doesn’t feel good. Statistics are useful and necessary, but I know they don’t fully reflect how we all feel about the safety of our work. Safety is about people. It’s about what we believe and, most importantly, it’s about what we think and do.
So what can we do to improve even further?
I’ve been working with my team and the UK Executive to think about exactly this; particularly as there is a lot of work and change going on right now. One thing that we are doing is changing what we focus on. We are going to do exactly what we ask you to do every day – focus on risks and try to reduce them.
Instead of focusing on injury rates, which is basically looking back at how many people have been hurt at work, we are going to focus more on the potential for harm. Alarmingly, every week there are two incidents in the UK where someone could have suffered life-changing injuries. In addition, on average one buried cable is hit each working day. There are definitely opportunities to build on our great performance and remove these risks.
By focusing on the causes of these incidents, we want find opportunities to share good practices and lessons learned better. We know from the employee survey and from listening to you on site that you don’t think we do this well enough.
We are also aware that there are teams and parts of our business that haven’t had an injury or a serious incident for a long time. So, great practices and behaviours are out there.
How can you help?
I’d like you to take a second before you start work and think: Could anything go wrong?; Am I prepared?; Have I chosen the best way to do this?; Do I see my colleagues around me making good safety choices and doing the right things?
If the answer to any of the questions is no, please stop and do something about it. Do you have a piece of really good practice to share – really practical things that you do to keep safe that others might not have thought of? If so, share them. You might just be doing your colleagues the biggest favour you could possibly do.
Please let me know what you think and feel about safety and, above all, keep safe and well.
Group Head of Process Safety