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Occupational health and safety has been catapulted to the top of the priority list for many businesses as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), companies have employed the necessary guidelines to ward off the virus, which includes frequent washing/sanitising of hands, wearing masks in public places and maintaining social distancing. Combining these measures with robust safety and health systems embedded into operational functions can help to achieve greater business success.

Health and safety expert and Red Stripe’s Safety Manager Jeffaust William is the man responsible for the overhaul of Red Stripe’s occupational health and safety protocols. William shares five ways in which any business can become safer:

1. SAFETY AND LEADERSHIP

Commitment starts from top management and all other managerial/ supervisory roles actively participating in safety initiatives to lead by example and provide the necessary human and financial resources. Leaders must inspire those that look to them for direction through their actions, so it is important that management is visibly doing the activities they will be asking their employees to do.

2. IMPROVE SAFETY COMPETENCIES

Knowledge is power, so create a tailor-made training programme that meets the needs of your organisation, ensuring a good balance of theory and practical training that will directly affect employees’ daily duties, and ultimately change their working habits. Empowerment is key to ensuring that the staff feels a sense of responsibility for ensuring that their working environment is safe, and that their health is at the forefront of all they do.

3. EMBED SAFE BEHAVIOUR

Employing the ‘carrot and stick’ motivational approach is a simple but effective way to yield favourable results. By setting out clear actions and rewarding good behaviours, this methodology focuses on positive reinforcement (carrot) by complimenting or recognising staff when they display good safety behaviours. Keeping the staff motivated will make performing safety duties meaningful and worthwhile, and can lead to lasting change in the workplace.

4. ENSURE COMPLIANCE

Guarantee that your organisation fulfils all legal requirements for safety, and continues to stay abreast of the latest safety regulations and have an active action plan to close those gaps. Companies should ensure that their safety protocols are commensurate with international standards and be prepared for whatever safety issues might arise.

5. COMMIT TO CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Reporting is a great way to assess implemented measures and set benchmarks to allow for improvements. It is also important to obtain employee feedback and collaborate to solve health and safety issues, even before they arise. Foresight and prevention are necessary in cultivating a culture of good occupational health and safety practices.

As we move forward on our journey of national development, it is important that companies hold themselves accountable for the environment in which they ask their employees to work, and for staff to take an interest in their own health and safety in the work environment. Safety is a journey that requires a change in organisational mindset moving from a culture of being reactive to one that is based on CARE: I care for you – you care for yourself and your colleagues.

Jeffaust William is a health and safety expert and Red Stripe’s safety manager.

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