H&S in Utilities

Utilities often lead the way when it comes to Health and Safety (H&S) because of the very nature of the industry. We have had the opportunity to spend some time with our customers in this area and tried to answer the question: ‘What does H&S mean in Utilities?’. We realised quickly this is the wrong question to ask. What we need to ask is: ‘What ISN’T H&S?’

H&S takes many different shapes and forms. Within the Utility sector, we distinguish four different aspects:

1. Environmental H&S

Dealing with the natural environment and elements on a day-to-day basis.

2. Outside of Physical Office H&S

Includes a range of factors: driving, dealing with other people on the road, off-road driving, lone workers, and working together on a task.

3. Organisation's H&S

Anything from loose carpet tiles to organisational restructures.

4. Personal H&S

Making sure people are psychologically able to do their job well.

This shows how complex H&S is and how many aspects there are to it. On top of this, the Utility sector is a very hardcore industry, with people who are not generally known for their openness to talk and to share.

We are starting to see a few much-needed changes that will make sure that H&S is adhered to and made common practice.

Some of the changes that we have already witnessed:

  • from functional safety to emotional health to physical health
  • from one person being responsible for H&S to empowered teams
  • from policing to coaching
  • from c-suite level to everyone taking responsibility

When H&S started out there was a big focus on what we call ‘functional H&S’: what tools can I provide you with to make your job safer and less risky? This focused on the Safety part of H&S. We see this moving to both emotional health/wellbeing and physical health. You only have to look at the nationwide campaigns about bullying, depression and ‘dare to talk’ to see that mental health is starting to be taken seriously. People realise that you as an employee need to be healthy so that you can do your job better. The new era of connected devices and understanding physical health better also leads to paying more attention to physical health.

H&S is not something that just one person can do and enforce; it takes everyone to be H&S conscious. We have come across some examples where people were unhappy about newly implemented H&S rules but as soon as another person in their team did not comply with these rules, they were brought back into line by their peers. It is everyone’s responsibility.

We have also witnessed a big change in people management. It is no longer policing and punishment. To gain long-lasting benefits coaching is best practice. By rewarding good behaviour and actively teaching/coaching people how to change, you are implementing life-long changes.

H&S is no longer a tick-box system run out of the CEO’s office. It is everyone responsibility.

Having spent time on the ground, we can respond to what H&S really means in our customers’ context. Smartrak provides a holistic H&S solution that encompasses all levels of your organisation and provides tangible benefits to these needs.

Smartrak is actively looking for opportunities to come and spend some time with you to observe and immerse ourselves in your organisation.

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