• Ksenia Wagensveld

Minimum compliance is not due diligence


How often have you been asked to show somebody the regulation or code to justify why you think something needs improvement. It can be the bane of a health and safety professionals existence. I often speak to my clients about this issue, and my advice to them is usually the same. If you're continually citing acts and regulations to demonstrate your point, then you're selling the wrong message.

When your experience, knowledge and sometimes 'gut feel' tells you there is a problem that is going to hurt somebody, but you need to cite a legal document before something can be fixed in your organisation, then your team or your leaders probably don't understand the idea of due diligence. Your probably in an organisation that has a culture that encourages 'minimum compliance'. A culture where ' we have to' is the only reason any improvements occur.

Getting tied up with meeting compliance requirements.

While you're constantly looking for all of the 'compliance' requirements, and arguing your way through them, the actual risks are getting away from you, and while your workplace may get a little safer, it may be a slow and painful journey.

If you go back through the WHS Act (for the harmonised states of NSW, QLD, SA, TAS), the principal duty (of a Person in Control of Business or Undertaking) is to ensure health and safety of persons affected as far as reasonably practical. The people in control (officers) then have a complementary duty to 'exercise due diligence 'to ensure the organisation is meeting its obligations.

The act goes some way to describe the particular things that can demonstrate due diligence. There's quite a comprehensive list of things a senior manager (and their subordinates) should be across.

However I'd like to put it to you this way...

Would you prefer to have an organisation that is 'risk focussed' and genuinely cares for minimising the risk of harm to its people, or an organisation that does 'just enough' to look like they're compliant? As a health and safety professional, any manager, any employer, you need to think about which culture your organisation is supporting.

Do you think 'due diligence' is best demonstrated by Directors, supervisors and managers that are continually engaged with their teams where health and safety is a normal part of doing business, or by 'non-leaders' who don't understand what they should do, and don't take the time to work it out unless they've been told they have to 'because it's the law'?

Does your organisation enable people to improve health and safety and share and recognise real improvements and changes in WHS, or is it focussed on LTI numbers and interrogating anybody who dares report an incident?

Take some time to think about it...

If your organisation sets itself up to show that it actually cares about its employees, that honestly no job is so important that it can't be done safely, you will foster a risk management culture that embraces health and safety across all of its functions. Naturally you will hurt less people and 'compliance' is less likely to be an issue because you've already found a safe way.

If your focus is on just being compliant, you will waste valuable resources finding out how to be compliant instead of finding out what is unsafe. Legislation can't cover all of the hazards and risks in an ever-evolving workplace, so you need to be focussed on making work safer, not just compliant.

In short- Minimum compliance is NOT due diligence.

Caring for your workers will yield better results

#Safety #WorkplaceHealthandsafetyQueensland #Compliance #DueDiligence #Management #Leadership #Legislation #Harmonisation #Obligations