As a Team leader your relationship with your team is crucial because you represent the company to them.  If you are straight and can be trusted to do what you say, then they will trust you and the company. Equally if you say one thing and do something else you will have damaged your own reputation and that of the company.

Why bother about health and safety

Good health and safety is good for business because it reduces (and hopefully eliminates) injuries, absences from work, spoiled product and business interruptions. It also enables you to have all your people at work, doing what you want them to do, when you need them.

So you have just been appointed as a Team Leader and you wonder what to do about health and safety at work.

  1. Get out on the shop floor and develop an understanding the work your people are doing and the hazards and risks they face. 
  2. Educate yourself about past accidents and ensure that any recommendations made to prevent them happening again have been implemented.
  3. Talk to your team about their problems and the key issues that worry them in terms of health and safety. 
  4. Start solving those problems in a collaborative way by asking them for the solutions that they believe will work. 
  5. Ask them how their jobs could be made safer and listen to what they say.
  6. Collaborate with others to solve those problems, including your engineering people, your maintenance crew and your professional health and safety advisor, if you have one.
  7. Try out some of their new ideas, if they do not work, then try something else. 
  8. Champion their ideas and suggestions at meetings.
  9. Spend time on the shop floor so you see the highs and the lows of the typical working day.  One hour spent on the shop floor will be worth four hours in the office.
  10. Let them know that you have an open door if they want to highlight anything regarding health and safety or have ideas to share.
  11. Explain and communicate clearly your rationale if you decide that your people need to work differently, use new equipment or wear some new personal protective equipment.
  12. Buy the best equipment your budget can afford.  That lets them know they are worth it.
  13. Train your team to do their jobs safely, equip them and then support them while they do their best work. 
  14. Communicate clearly what health and safety standards you expect from your team, leave them in no doubt that their safety, health and welfare is at the top of your agenda above production, quality, budgets etc. It is no longer about rules – it is now about standards.
  15. Be an excellent role model yourself in all aspects of health and safety because that is what leadership demands.

What is the essence of Safety Leadership?

Safety leadership is all about: integrity, authenticity, seeing the bigger picture, honesty, transparency and accountability.

Bottom line – let your people know that you care about them as people not just as units of production.  Make their health and safety personal.