The Safer Choice

Consultancy

You can’t be risk free, but I help businesses to make sensible decisions about how to make “the safer choice” about managing risk as part of running a business. Previous clients appreciate my ability to identify inconsistencies in current systems, and to write clearer (shorter!) processes.

If you’re looking for a full-time health and safety manager, I’m not the person for you. If you have a project which needs someone from the outside to review and revise how you do things, I might be able to help.

See below for examples of what I’ve delivered for other clients. Please see the separate page on Training for examples of courses I can deliver, and modes of delivery. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

A safety critical warehousing operation had been picked up by their regulator for a series of errors.  I spent time with the staff to understand why these errors were being made.  The procedures they were following were difficult to understand, and people were unclear what went on elsewhere on the site.  I re-wrote some of the procedures, and developed and presented workshops to engage different groups of staff and managers, and to promote understanding of the “critical control points” in their operations.

Outcome: there was a noticeable change in the attitudes towards safety, and a measurable reduction in the number of “mis-picks” in the warehouse.

Picking operation in a warehouse

The best way to learn how to assess risk is to assess risk. You can read books on risk assessment – like the one I’m writing – but nothing matches the experience of doing a risk assessment with a group of people to learn the ups and downs.
I worked with a facilities team to teach them how to improve their out-of-date and sketchy risk assessment. I reviewed their existing risk assessments, and chose one as the subject of a workshop. ‘Changing a fuse’. First, we discussed the task. My question was simple: what sort of fuse are you changing? “I guess it’s the 3‑amp fuse in a plug,” said one person. “No, I think it means changing the circuit breaker in the distribution board” suggested another. A third person look confused “I don’t think it would be either of those. I think it’s the fuses in the transformers”. The existing risk assessment was vague enough to apply to any of these, and general enough to be of use to none.

Once we agreed which fuse changing task we were going to assess, we wrote a clearer task description for the assessment – one that would help others to know when the assessment was relevant to their task. We broke the task down into steps, and considered what could go wrong at each point. We documented the controls they had in place, and what monitoring was needed. We considered the adequacy of the controls, and where additional measures were needed. We agreed how these could be followed up. At the end of the workshop we had a team of six people, trained to do a risk assessment. And we had an example risk assessment, specific to their setting, that they could use as a model for future risk assessments.

From 1996 to 2018 I wrote a software review column for a widely read health and safety magazine. In a review in 2004 I describe one vendor’s software as being marred by ‘too much text, with repeated information and unnecessary colloquialisms.” In a later review of a different product from the same provider I complained that while it had many good features, it lacked interaction and practical examples. Rather than get upset by my criticism, the vendor took the mature approach, challenging me: if you’re so good at criticising, come and write a better course for us. I have worked regularly with this vendor since 2013, reviewing existing courses, mentoring other course designers, and designing courses. I work as subject matter expert (SME),as a learning advisor, and as a user interaction (UX) specialist. I’ve worked with the organisation to develop a style guide and a review process for the courses they produce.

Outcome: The client has grown, gaining clients from competitors. It is a joy to see the other designers now putting the ideas I initiated into their own courses – story telling, active learning and definitely minimal text without repetition or colloquialisms.

I reviewed the pages and pages of contractor documentation that an organisation had, determined what information was actually needed to manage risk and how much effort contractors would put into this process.  I cut the whole process down to a three-page pre-arrival document, plus a short form to be completed on arrival.  I trained staff on how to use the new procedures, and then tweaked the forms when they came back to me with suggestions once they started to use them.

Outcome: The contractor management process is quicker and more effective at controlling hazards.

The DSE projects I’ve worked on all have confidentiality clauses in them, which mean I can’t illustrate them with images here. However, here’s a very personal DSE project I was involved with. This is the ‘before’ image.

Outcome: a very happy homeworker

Mtw-old-desk-with-keyboard

I reviewed the pages and pages of contractor documentation that an organisation had, determined what information was actually needed to manage risk and how much effort contractors would put into this process.  I cut the whole process down to a three-page pre-arrival document, plus a short form to be completed on arrival.  I trained staff on how to use the new procedures, and then tweaked the forms when they came back to me with suggestions once they started to use them.

Outcome: The contractor management process is quicker and more effective at controlling hazards.

Cat-DSE-elearning-300x236

An important part of risk management is making sure people know what to do – there are plenty of examples of prosecutions of organisations that thought it was obvious to put the hand brake on, not to work at height on your own, or not to climb on fragile roofs. Where organisations can’t demonstrate that they provide regular training and instruction, they are often convicted. But you don’t need a Chartered Health and Safety Professional to come in once and year and remind people of straight forward controls. So, given a list of topics that a facilities team needed regular training on, I worked with the staff for several weeks, taking photographs of the work they do, the tools they use and the places they work. I compiled these into short picture-based training sessions. I wrote a script for the supervisor, based on asking questions to the other staff rather than telling them what to do, and then trained them to deliver the talks to their teams. The content is delivered using a paper-based easel, so people can be instructed anywhere, any time.

Outcome: Supervisors have become more confident in delivering short training sessions to remind staff of basic safety controls – and the organisation can demonstrate they have met their duty to instruct, inform and train.

Supervisor trained to deliver routine health and safety training
Supervisor trained to deliver routine health and safety training