It’s been another year to remember in the health and safety sector, with the release of the Hackitt review, publication of the ISO 45001 standard and continued swirling concerns about how Brexit may impact the industry. In a period of immense ongoing change, it’s vitally important that organisations have the people, culture and processes necessary to enhance resilience and drive success in 2019.
Hackitt Review drives change
Dame Judith Hackitt’s eagerly awaited Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety will drive major changes to the industry in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Although we highlighted some shortcomings in the report, most notably its focus specifically on residential rather than also considering commercial buildings, there’s much to recommend it. Hackitt has highlighted major challenges in terms of the siloed way in which the construction industry works — from owners and developers to contractors, fire assessors. Historically there’s been little continuity between each party. Going forward it’s hoped the report’s recommendations of a “digital thread” for each building will rectify this.
More than anything, the tragedy at Grenfell serves as a timely example of the kind of reputational fallout that can result from a major incident like this. If nothing else, that should focus the minds of council and business leaders working across the sector.
Converting to ISO 45001
Published in March this year ISO 45001 is a new standard for occupational health and safety (OH&S). We predict it will become a crucial tool for many organisations that want to burnish their corporate reputation, drive consistency and manage risk effectively. One of the key changes it brings is to enshrine the notion of managerial responsibility in the OH&S space. Senior managers must actively engage with health and safety policies and practices and ensure governance activities consider these alongside other business critical areas.
However, it’s clear that some organisations are struggling with this element of the new standard. Management teams aren’t consulting with but “telling” their employees. Even auditors are struggling to gain an audience. Cultural change is always the hardest to achieve, but leadership will have to demonstrate greater commitment to OH&S going forward to ensure successful compliance.
Wellbeing and mental health
Every employer should want a healthy and engaged workforce — driving productivity and minimizing the cost of sick leave. But up until now, few have actively been looking to drive improvements. That’s starting to change, in several areas. With over half of employees stressed about the state of their finances, many employers are starting to drive financial wellness programmes. Other schemes look to improve physical fitness, and social connectivity among employees.
Perhaps one of the biggest taboos has been around mental health. It’s claimed that a third of UK employees don’t feel comfortable talking to their manager about mental health problems. But things are starting to change here too with business leaders increasingly open about their own mental health challenges, and organisations rolling out programmes to help employees better manage stress at work.
Brexit D-day near
Something that’s been causing more than its fair share of stress up and down the company over the past two years is Brexit. There have been concerns that the UK’s departure from the EU could herald a new bonfire of the regulations, which could cause the nation to lose its hard-won position as global leader in health and safety.
We’re more optimistic. A range of workplace changes are coming that will radically alter the OH&S landscape: from artificial intelligence to VR/AR, robots and the always-on office. If we leave the EU, there could be an opportunity for the UK to respond with greater agility to these changes by designing and enacting the appropriate legislation more quickly than if still bound by EU law. That could be good news in helping to drive a competitive advantage for the country.
Given these and many more of the challenges facing organisations over the coming year, it’s going to be increasingly important to demonstrate corporate resilience to stay ahead of the competition. Analysis of the S&P500 reveals that the average lifespan of a company will drop from 33 years in 1965 to just 14 years by 2025.
This is where the BSI’s BS 65000 Standard for Organizational Resilience comes in, offering a path to more sustainable growth and greater predictability.