Implementing a comprehensive occupational hygiene program can be challenging for leaders in health and safety. It’s something we see in many organisations we partner with.
There are many reasons why health and safety managers are challenged when implementing these programs into their businesses. Such as:
A Lack of Resources: Implementing occupational hygiene requires resources, including financial and human resources, training, and specialist equipment. Health and safety managers may struggle to secure adequate resources to effectively implement occupational hygiene programs.
The Resistance to Change: Some employees and managers may resist changes to existing work processes or procedures, making it difficult to implement new occupational hygiene protocols. This resistance may be due to concerns about job security, lack of awareness about the importance of occupational hygiene, or a preference for existing work methods.
Complexities of Workplace Hazards: Addressing workplace hazards such as chemicals, physical agents, or biological agents can be complex and may require specialised expertise. Health and safety managers may face challenges in identifying, evaluating, and controlling workplace hazards, particularly in industries with rapidly changing technologies or processes.
Necessary Compliance with Regulations: Health and safety managers must comply with regulations related to occupational hygiene. Meeting these regulatory requirements can be challenging and may require significant time and resources.
Limited Employee Engagement: Implementing occupational hygiene requires the cooperation and engagement of employees at all levels of the organization. Health and safety managers may struggle to engage employees in the development and implementation of occupational hygiene programs, which can limit their effectiveness.
The biggest challenge is often the resistance to change, and a lack of worker engagement or team buy in.
We’ve partnered with hundreds of businesses across the UK and when we first take over a project, we normally come across some form of resistance to implementation from the workforce. Sometimes even the senior leadership teams and management resist occupational hygiene. It’s certainly not uncommon in our industry, but why is this?
Occupational hygiene monitoring can be invasive. We get it more than anyone. Worker groups need to wear equipment that monitor exposure, and it’s how we gather the data and drive change within organisations. Pressures of meeting production KPIs and working to stringent deadlines or operating in fast paced working environments can put us at a disadvantage when trying to engage with workers and get their input.
Surprisingly to our partners, in many cases our practitioners are challenged. We are asked – “why are they measuring me, are they tracking what I’m doing and if I’m doing it wrong?” or, we are met with comments around where the information is being kept. “Why do I never get to see the results of these assessments, are the company hiding something from me?”
It seems to be embedded deep in the company culture that people should be diligent when trusting management. So, what’s the solution to creating healthier working environments? Collectiveness.
It’s about building trust through empowerment, becoming great listeners and opening lines of communication.
Not every business we partner with resist occupational hygiene. We work with some amazing teams that are open to the process, and the monitoring we do. The engagement from the workforce is paramount to us understanding a business. Often, what workers don’t realise, is that they are the most important influences in driving change within their business. We as occupational hygienist just facilitate this along with their health and safety teams.
So how do businesses that successfully adopt an occupational hygiene program into their business approach things?
Successful businesses engage their workforce, communicate effectively, openly share information, and provide training and interactive workshops or regular toolbox talks focusing on occupational hygiene topics. The workers within these organisations see occupational hygiene as a huge benefit to their teams and recognise that when done effectively, it can improve their working environment hugely.
We often find that, along with the respective health and safety management teams or leaders, our practitioners become the trust builders for the business we partner with. We work closely with health and safety managers and help engage with people within the businesses and their leadership teams. Together, we empower workers to have a voice, and thrive off asking questions and being great listeners with the aim of collaborating on the topic of worker health protection.
If there’s small pieces of advice, we would give leaders who are struggling to get employee buy in to their occupational hygiene programs, it would be…
1. Become a better communicator.
Inform your teams and communicate the “Why”. Open lines of communication and work closely with your occupational hygiene practitioner to help inform your teams better.
2. Don’t be afraid to listen to your team.
At Workplace Scientifics, our people are great listeners, that’s how we build trust and empower workers to voice their concerns and speak openly about their working environment.
3. Provide engaging training and development opportunities.
Engage your workforce and work with your occupational hygiene practitioners to design and develop workshops which promote collaboration and a freedom to learn and understand occupational hygiene more clearly.
4. Be patient.
Building trust can be a long process, be patient. Even the hardest to win over will eventually buy into occupational hygiene if you are consistent and persevere with building trust.
We hope this article goes some way to providing a brief overview of the challenges for leaders in health and safety, when implementing a comprehensive occupational hygiene program. If you wish to know more on this subject or need support from our team then please feel free to get in touch with us through social media or our website (www.workplacescientifics.com), by email at email@example.com or simply give us a call on 01709 931299.