Instilling a culture of safety within an organisation is the most effective way to improve Work Health and Safety(WHS) awareness across the workforce. Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility, but it can be challenging to communicate the message effectively and achieve the desired behavioural change.
We have seen great results when an organisation establishes a network of WHS Champions. It’s a clever way to organically spread safety messages through a network of respected employees.
What is a WHS Champion?
A WHS Champion is someone who is chosen by the organisation to improve the management of WHS across the enterprise. WHS champions can be particularly useful in multi-site organisations.
For the WHS Champion program to be effective, it’s important to choose the right people. Credibility and respect are essential when driving cultural change, and WHS Champions must be committed to safe work practices and to helping to keep their co-workers safe.
Diversity in WHS Champions will ensure engagement across the workforce, especially for a geographically dispersed organisation. Employees who are charismatic and likeable will communicate their ideas and enthusiasm for safety more effectively than someone who may be perceived as the safety police.
We are often asked what to look for when selecting a WHS Champion; here are our top five traits for a WHS Champion:
- Good communicator
- Enthusiasm for safety
- Deep and innovative thinker
- Open to trying new ideas.
Making it work
Once you have established your network of WHS Champions, it’s vital that they are able to catch up regularly to share ideas and maintain motivation within the group. In multi-site locations, a regular phone conference call may be more practical than a face-to-face meeting.
There are a variety of WHS Champion models that organisations can adopt; the key is to find the one that works best for your organisation and workforce. Some organisations use WHS Champions for consultation while others use WHS Champions outside the traditional WHS Representative and Committee Structure. A variety of considerations dictate the best approach for companies. Where organisations would like to hand-pick their WHS Champions, the structure may not satisfy consultation requirements.
When considering the introduction of WHS Champions, remember that their role is positive promotion and idea generation as well as the sharing of information. Keeping their goals and vision clear will help to ensure their success.
If you need help with establishing a WHS Champion network or building a culture of safety within your organisation, talk to us today; we’d love to help. Recovery Partners can assist with introducing WHS Champions and Safety Training. We also offer fully outsourced Work Health and Safety programs. Call 1300 OHS RTW (1300 647 789) for more information.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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