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Simple and Easy Employee Engagement Ideas for Improving OHS

Article by: Wayne J Harris – HSE Professional

ISQEM Engagement in OHS Training

We need to change, but how do we engage our employees in Occupational Health and Safety OHS? This question is often asked by management, yet it is not simple to answer, as there are many variables that need to be addressed.   Before anyone implements an employee engagement strategy they need to recognise there are various aspects to consider including;

  1. Nationality of Employees
  2. Cultural Development
  3. Social Environment at Work
  4. Language of the Workforce
  5. Religion
  6. Ethnic Traditions/Customs
  7. Educational Levels of Employees

Employee engagement is not an exact science and there is no magic solution. Traditionally employee engagement has been focused on by Human Resources (HR) departments, working on the concept of engaging people towards a productive culture of success. In some cases focusing purely on ensuring staff retention or personal development, yet it often fails to address the important issue of OHS or loss prevention, making the process flawed.

The basic structure of employee engagement is based on company values. These values determine the why, how and what is acceptable within an organisation. If OHS is neglected when establishing these values employee will not believe or trust what top management is saying or doing.

Occupational health and safety has to be incorporated into an organisations overall corporate engagement strategy, if not OHS will be seen as a silo management process with no relationship to the overall values of the company.

 ISQEM Training Engagment in EHS, OHS, HSE

Some Ideas to start you off

Here are a few ideas you can use for inspiration when coming up with your employee engagement programme to ensure that you address OHS at the same time.

  1. Have Departments create their own set of OHS values

Give employees the opportunity to come up with their own set of values or rules. Departments can create a strong team spirit, based on 2-3 commonly agreed values or OHS rules that contribute to the overall performance of the team. People like to feel empowered to make their own decisions and are more likely to see the benefits of the rules or values that have been put in place.

  1. Mentors / Guides for New Employees

We know that one of the critical times for people to settle into an organisation is in the first 1 to 3 months of starting employment. An important part of the on boarding process is feeling comfortable and confident in knowing what is expected and importantly the OHS processes to follow. Having someone guide new starters alleviates problems and contributes to a successful on boarding of new staff speeding up the critical settling in period, and acceptance of OHS rules.

Remember a mentor or guide can be anyone in a team, as long as they actually support a new starter. It is one way to give empowerment and responsibility to someone and at the same time they get respect from fellow work colleagues, creating engagement satisfaction.

  1. Make sure that people have Equipment and Resources to do their Job

One of the biggest gripes of employees is not having the right safety equipment or resources to do their jobs. If you give people the items they require they are more likely to working safely and efficiently. If you don’t give the right equipment or resources expect poor standards and poor employee engagement. Have employees participate in the testing and selection of personal protective equipment, that way they will be more likely to accept it.

  1. Encourage Innovation

There is always an opportunity to learn from others, and encouraging people to be innovative is a win-win scenario for everyone. You will be surprised how many great ideas are floating around the office or on a worksite. Why not establish a reward scheme for OHS ideas that benefit the organisation by inspiring people to think outside the box and come up with new ways to improve day-to-day business.

Set up a Workplace Innovation Workshop and have employees participate in a brain storming session. This creates two engagements streams, open communication and encouragement to contribute to improving work conditions. You will be surprised how useful these types of events can be to an organisation.

  1. Recognise and Openly Celebrate Achievements

It is important that we acknowledge what people have accomplished at work and how it has contributed to the success of the business. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what position you hold in a company, we all need to hear the most important 2 words to inspire us, which is “THANK YOU”.

By publicly recognising people’s achievements or performance we can give a real boost of energy to an individual or a team of people. It’s all about creating synergy and engaging people on a personal level.

My one tip is to try not to use incident statistics as a celebration, as it is often seen as a negative by employees. If you don’t hit an incident rate target everyone feels they have failed and become instantly demoralised.



I could add many other ideas to the above, but all I want to do is make people think on how they should approach employee engagement and OHS. It’s important that organisation brainstorm ideas and take input from employees. It is only with a transparent and open employee engagement strategy that true benefits and progress can be made. It’s important that you try and adapt new and innovative ideas, until you find the perfect fit for your organisation.

Having used all of the above ideas with great success I know and appreciate what can be achieved. However, what works for one organisation might not work for another, so always do your homework and plan carefully. Otherwise your engagement strategy might easily turn out to be disengagement.


About the Author: Wayne J Harris

Wayne is a highly respected HSE (Health Safety Environment) professional with over 31 year’s international experience. He has extensive business and technical acumen gained successfully undertaking director and senior level roles, specialising in corporate change management. Expert knowledge of health and safety, and security management within the construction, facilities management, petrochemical, railway and engineering industries, including a comprehensive understanding of operational and business management.


Hearts and Minds in winning the Battle of Safety Engagement

Article by:  Wayne J Harris – HSE Professional

ISQEM Hearts and Minds

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliance is not just about management systems, or policies, it’s about employee engagement.  Yet unfortunately we still see people following the old fashioned notion that a manager has to be independent, strong and stand back from his workers to get respect; otherwise they will be seen as weak and unable to control the business.

There is still a tendency to believe that knowledge is ultimate power so why should we involve others, especially those at the lower level of an organisation.  However in reality it is the very opposite, top managers or leaders are those who openly engage at all levels and encourage emotional and social involvement within an organisation.  It’s all about winning hearts and minds.

We have to remember that leadership is based on engagement and inspiration. Failing to recognise the basic needs of employees can and will produce negative outcomes. This is especially relevant when it comes to quality and safety performance in the workplace. Failing to engage employees will ultimately result in lack of trust and a tendency to question or view change as a negative process.

Engagement in the Workplace

There is no doubt employees will only get engaged if they feel the work environment enables them to openly participate.  Employees should be inspired to come to work fully engaged. The challenge for any organisation is to create the conditions that will enable engagement to happen in a proactive manner. Safety compliance and employee engagement are top priority issues for senior managers all over the world.

In any organisation it is critical that a trenchant approach is taken in defining a policy that makes management responsible for creating conditions at work that will facilitate employee engagement. Otherwise business failure is just waiting around the corner.

Winning Hearts and Minds

The term “Winning Hearts and Minds” is well known strategy approach used by the military in many countries. In addition we see the same strategic elements within other public and governmental organisations. However the complexity of a hearts and mind approach in the commercial world is dependent on an organisations OHS maturity and present cultural understanding. It is based on simple rules of getting alignment and engagement from people, to what you want to change within an organisation.

When we look at basic human nature which is often defined as “The general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioural traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans” then we can easily associate the “Hearts and Minds” approach to management engagement.  We need to appreciate the basic needs of people to relate and socially interact with others, and accept that building relationships at work is one of the general cornerstones in developing a robust safety or OHS management culture.

Managers who care about the safety of people and visibly demonstrate a caring attitude will ultimately gain the respect and trust of employees.  They will be viewed as true leaders inspiring others to be motivated to perform at the best of their abilities.  By managing in line with basic human needs of integration, acceptance and recognition, the working dynamics of employees can be significantly improved, helping to set the foundation of the entire organisational safety philosophy.

Transforming your organisations Safety culture

Leadership and culture are intertwined elements of a safe workplace. Adopting simple behavioural traits in line with a hearts and mind strategy you can start to transform your organisation. By taking the fundamental aspects of human nature of being involved, and feeling valued, you can and will see changes.  We have often seen what 2 simple, yet powerful words “Thank You” can do to someone when it comes to an individual’s motivation, yet unfortunately those two words are not often used appropriately in the work environment.

There is no need to complicate management or employee engagement with fancy safety gimmicks or superficial promotions. It’s about making sure people are feeling valued and creating an atmosphere at work that will cultivate a safety environment and help shape behaviours of people. People do not follow safety rules just because the procedures manual say’s they should, they follow rules because they believe in them, and value the reasons behind them.

3E ISQEM Safety Engagement

The 3E’s to winning Hearts and Minds

In order to move forward in OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) we need to ensure that we adopt the simple 3E approach, which will help us to shift people’s mind-set.

  1. Empowerment – Giving people the authority to act and take action will build trust and ultimate respect for others in the workplace.
  2. Engagement – Participation in decision making processes and engaging people in meetings and OHS systems development, or training delivery.
  3. Encouragement – People need to know that they can put forward ideas and participate in the running of OHS. Encouraging employees to be open and acknowledging people’s skills and achievements.

Taking the journey of safety transformation from one level to the next can be seen as daunting for many organisations. The question of too much time and financial investment is often used as an excuse to trundle along doing the same thing and accepting risk. Yet this approach often becomes a costly commercial mistake by the organisation and can result in major losses.

It’s about identifying where you are today as far as corporate maturity and employee engagement, and then creating a realistic framework for OHS change.  The priority should be given to engagement of employees around strong leadership and management involvement. By taking the ‘’Heart and Minds’’ approach to employee engagement organisations can develop simple and cost effective solutions, which will generate a genuine return on investment.


There is no excuse for any organisation not to have safety management strategies in place within their workplace. It comes down to keeping things simple, understandable and most importantly that it encourages and expects involvement at all employee levels.

So before you start any future safety promotion or new Safety management system, take a step back and ask yourself 3 simple yet vital questions;

  1. Will it engage people at all levels within the organisation?
  2. Will it inspire people at all levels to make sustainable changes?
  3. Will it be easy to implement and manage?

If the answer is “No’’ to any of the above questions then you will need to go back to the drawing board and start again.  Otherwise all you end up doing is costing your organisation time and money, and achieve if lucky very minimal results.

Download PDF Copy. Hearts and Minds in winning the Battle of Safety Engagement 23-11-2014

About the Author:  Wayne J Harris

Wayne is a highly respected HSE (Health Safety Environment) professional with over 30 year’s international experience. He has extensive business and technical acumen gained successfully undertaking director and senior level roles, specialising in corporate change management. Expert knowledge of health and safety, and security management within the construction, facilities management, petrochemical, railway and engineering industries, including a comprehensive understanding of operational and business management.


ISQEM International Mentorship Programme

ISQEM Mentorship Programme

Safety Mentorship Programme 2015

Fantastic opportunity to join a unique safety mentorship programme in 2015.  This FREE programme is open  to 10 people from around the world and is suitable for all levels from EHS Officer/ Advisor, Manager, to Director level.

The mentorship programme can be applied for by Companies or Individuals,  and will be developed around clear guidelines and objectives, to allow everyone to benefit.   This is the first time a mentorship programme of this style and content has been offered in the HSE industry.

Mentor Details:  –

Name: Wayne J Harris 

Mentoring Since: 2005

Wayne Harris International Health and Safety Professional

Wayne Harris is a highly regarded international specialist in developing corporate risk and HSE management systems with over 31 years’ experience. He has advised major organisations both private and governmental, on key issues of strategy and organisational risk and safety management. Working within the international arena including Europe, Asia-Pacific, to the Middle East. He has a comprehensive understanding of the global risk and safety issues facing an organisation in today’s business economy.

He is also a leading international speaker and chairman of safety conferences/summits around the world and has participated in over 50 events.

In addition he is also the Chairman of ISQEM and a past Director of the WSO.

Application for Mentorship

To apply for this great learning and career growth opportunity, applicants will need to write a “Mentee statement” of 400 words max, on the reasons why you want to be mentored.  The statements will be reviewed and those selected to participate will be informed in December 2014.

If you wish to participate in this free mentorship programme you will need to send in your Mentee statement  by the 21st November 2014 to the following email;

Please share this with other health and safety professionals and lets start to help people in the industry

International Mentorship Programme Provided by ISQEM as part of its continual education programme

Mike Wilson

International Safety Quality Environment Management Association (ISQEM)

Art of Persuasion and Safety leadership

Article By: Wayne J Harris

We can do it ISQEM

Last week I hosted a one day senior management workshop for a group of 20 managers.  The main purpose to change their attitudes and behaviours in regards to safety, management and leadership.

I decided to approach the workshop using techniques that would inspire them to look at how they interact at different levels with the workforce and most importantly develop their style of communication.

Throughout the training I only used the actual word “Safety” less than a dozen times. The reasons for this approach was to not to make it a safety training session, but a management change workshop using the art of persuasion.

It was only at the very end during my final closing statement that I asked for 3 things to be done that would help improve safety.  All 3 items involved zero cost and very little time or input by the managers.

I found that by using the art of persuasion and linking the workshop around their day-to-day work, the message that safety is an outcome rather than an overhead burden was fully understood.

Many of the delegates said it was the first safety training workshop they had attended that did not talk about safety all day, yet they learnt more and understood how it’s a crucial part of management and success of their business.

So what is Persuasion?

ISQEM Success

Persuasion is about influencing people. Persuasion can attempt to influence a person’s attitudes intentions, beliefs, motivations, customs, or behaviours.

In the business world, persuasion and safety are definitely linked, it is a process aimed at changing a person’s (or a group’s) attitude or behaviour towards work activities. This is achieved by written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning.

Persuasion is also linked to a person’s acceptance to someone else’s personal capabilities.  If someone believes that an individual is an expert or knowledgeable in their field of expertise, they are more likely to accept the information being shared.

Taking it one more step up the leadership ladder

It is generally acknowledged that management requires multi-skilled individuals. The skills of planning, delegation, problem solving and communication are seen as critical for management and leadership roles. Yet surprisingly the skill of persuasion is still rarely acknowledged or utilised.

In today’s workplace environment, persuasion can be your key to make the safety changes your organisation desires.  Instead of telling people what to do, try persuading them instead, you might be surprised how much you will achieve.


Author: Wayne J Harris


What are International Safety Professionals / Specialists?

By: Wayne J. Harris

ISQEM International Safety Professional Specialist

During a recent conference I was approached by a HSE manager who asked me “what are international safety professionals”.  The reason for the question was because he had recently applied for an international job and was rejected, despite having all the necessary industry related experience.

So first of all let’s put some perspective on titles that are quite often used by people when it comes to working overseas or internationally.

For the purpose of this article the term Safety in the below titles can also be taken as OHS, EHS, HSE or any other common acronym used to define an occupational health and safety practitioner. The term Practitioner can also be taken as Manager, Advisor, Officer, or Engineer

NOTE: Different countries take different approaches to ensuring occupational health and safety.  Actual job responsibilities will vary between countries and regions.

Overseas Safety Practitioner

This term is used to define someone who sometimes works outside of their home country. In general they tend to have limited exposure to countries or continents and normally work in the same industry sectors such as construction, pharmaceuticals, petrochemical, manufacturing etc.   This title also applies to individuals who may work overseas for a few years in single geographical areas i.e. Middle East and UK (Europe).

International Safety Professional / Specialist

The international safety professional / specialist is someone who has worked fulltime in multiple countries and continents, outside of his or her home country / continent for the majority of their safety career.  They have held senior corporate level positions, involved in developing an organizations management systems or safety strategy. In general they have fulltime safety experience exceeding 20 years.

International Safety Consultant

To be called an International Safety Consultant you also need to meet the criteria of the International Safety Professional / Specialist. Plus have consulting experience.  (This title is quite often misused as people mistakenly believe by just doing a few consultancy contracts or delivering training courses overseas qualifies them an international safety consultant).

 Working at an International level

If you are looking at working in a different country you will need to take a very serious look at how you as an individual will settle in to the role. It is not a question of just having safety knowledge and experience. You will need to be a good communicator, able to think out of the box and most importantly have patience.

One of the common mistakes made by people when they first move overseas is to use their own country as the minimum benchmark for safety standards and compliance. As you travel, you will soon learn the local practices of how things are done correctly or incorrectly. However you must understand that not everything you see as a safety violation is wrong; it might just be different country rules or regulations.

You need to remember that some countries are still developing on a social and economic level. The role of the international safety practitioner / professional is to take a company on a journey of continual improvement.

One thing for sure, working on an international level will help you to gain valuable experience and knowledge of working in diverse environments. You will meet some fantastic people and have personal satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to improving global occupational health and safety.




Author: Wayne Harris

Wayne Harris is a highly regarded international specialist in developing corporate risk and HSE management systems with over 31 years’ experience. He has advised major organisations both private and governmental, on key issues of strategy and organisational risk and safety management. Working within the international arena including Europe, Asia-Pacific, to the Middle East. He has a comprehensive understanding of the global risk and safety issues facing organisations in today’s business economy. Email:

The Change Maker approach to OHS Success.

Part 1 of 2

Article by: Wayne J Harris

Embrace or Reject OHS Change

Having been involved in corporate change and restructuring for over 31 years, I have witnessed many people making the fundamental mistake of not identifying real Change Makers within a business.  Hence they rarely achieve any substantial or sustainable improvements.

When things are not moving forward in safety performance, we have to stop and re-evaluate our approach.  Yet unfortunately not everyone seems to see the importance of this and they continue to pursue the same approach over and over again, failing to see that continuation is entirely nugatory.

Developing and improving safety leadership and compliance involves a process of organisational and personal change analysis. Only when the analysis is completed can you start to identify a combination of management tools or processes that will allow people to evolve and make positive changes.

Remember Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.  Well unfortunately sometime people still forget to appreciate this simple but relevant fact.

The question is what do you do when you hit a plateau in safety performance?

Time to Change.

A point of time will come when you will exhaust or stagnate with your present systems approach and will need to make a calculating change to your leadership and management programme.   At this point you must ensure you complete a proper analysis, otherwise you will not be in a position to identify improvements under what I call the “ The 8 Change Makers”.

So what are the 8 Change Makers?

Change makers fall into eight categories, all of which must be researched and analysed to identify sustainable and cost-effective improvements in performance and OHS compliance.  They include;

  1. Corporate Structure
  2. Employees
  3. Machinery and Equipment
  4. Finance and Budgetary Controls
  5. Business Market Sectors
  6. Clients
  7. Legal
  8. Societal and Geographical Footprint

Each of the above categories plays a major part in establishing and improving performance, compliance and incident prevention. If you fail to take into account all of these elements, then your approach to leadership and overall safety management will be very limited, or worst case may even fail.

Typical Mistakes

First of all let’s look at a few of the typical mistakes made when companies approach safety change or leadership.

1. Revamping the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Management System – We have all seen this or heard of this before, OHS is not working very well, and incident rates are high. So the first knee jerk reaction is to revamp or completely re-write the OHS management system, all without any real justification to back-up the changes.

2. Selecting the wrong Safety Leaders or Champions – Job title alone does not make someone appropriate to be a safety leader or safety champion.  Yet quite often we see the mistake of selecting senior people, or OHS staff believing by default they must be good safety leaders.  This unfortunately is not always the case, as some people will never become leaders purely because they are missing certain personal qualities, or attributes fundamental to becoming an effective leader

3. Over Training- Don’t get me wrong I know training is crucial to successful implementation of OHS, but it can also be a hindrance or obstacle for making real progress.  The subject matter and quality of content can also be questionable in regards to duration, suitability and ultimately the retention of knowledge by employees. Major re-training programmes can be costly and companies expect a return on their investment (ROI)

4. Lack of Cohesion – When there is lack of cohesion in a company towards OHS change you will seriously struggle to succeed.  Failing to address the needs of individual departments or operational functions within your organisation will place barriers in the way.

5. Failing to observe Societal and Geographical Impacts – Organisations sometimes fail to take into consideration the geographical spread and impacts of their operations.  We have to remember the approach and acceptance of OHS, is often dependent on culture, religion and other societal considerations.  “Just because an OHS system works well in Switzerland it does not mean it will work in the Sudan or UK”.


Planning for Successful Change

ISQEM OHS Change Management

In part 2 of this paper we will look at the key steps you need to complete to undertake a change management analyse.  In addition we will address some of the common problems faced by OHS professionals in achieving buy-in from senior management or a board of directors

I recommend everyone to have a real good look at their organisations performance in regards to safety.  You never know, maybe it’s time for you to start making changes and move to a higher level of OHS management and compliance.


About the Author:

Wayne Harris is a highly regarded international specialist in developing corporate risk and OHS management systems with over 31 years’ experience. He has advised major organisations both private and governmental, on key issues of strategy and organisational risk and safety management. Working within the international arena including Europe, Asia-Pacific, to the Middle East. Wayne has vast experience in developing corporate change programmes for OHS management and leadership development.  Contact:

Tired of arguing the case for Safety in EHS Meetings?

Delegation ISQEM

How many times have you felt that you are at loggerheads in EHS meetings with your management on safety issues?  It seems that you are constantly arguing the reasons for safety, yet people are still not seeing the big picture.

First of all you need to understand that human beings see things differently.  If you asked 10 persons to define the risk of climbing a 3 meter ladder, the answers will be different; this is due to people’s individual risk tolerance levels.  The same goes when we are discussing safety in an EHS meeting, not everyone will get to see the same picture or understand why it is so important.

So what can you do to make things easier in your EHS meetings?

Lobby and Communicate.   A simple yet often forgotten aspect of successful meetings is lobbying.  Sometimes you will need to rally support before you approach a subject in a meeting.  This is extremely important in the case of recommending or promoting changes in EHS management systems or items that might incur major investment. Remember early communication is the key to success in any meeting.

Remind People.  At times you will need to remind people of the objectives of the EHS meeting and why the attendees are there.   People need to be clear about the purpose of the meeting and that their role is to provide input on behalf of the whole company, not just their own work environment.

Meeting Protocols.  Good meeting room practices can help diffuse disputes or arguments. All members of an EHS meeting must be given the time to say what they want and ask questions. There must also be a clear decision-making protocol, so that you can reach an agreement to adopt safety practices or ideas.

Establish Meeting Standards of BehaviourIt is important how meetings are run in terms of behaviours and attitudes.  EHS meetings can at times get out of control, especially if turns into a personal attack or when questioning people’s ability.  Therefore you need to make the meeting constructive and avoid negative or personal arguments.

Use External Speakers in Meetings.   It’s surprising what difference it can make when someone from outside your organisation talks about how EHS changes have improved their company.  The external speaker approach can be highly beneficial as people tend to listen, associate their own issues and raise questions on suitable solutions.

The Agenda.  Try to keep your EHS meeting focused on real issues that need to be addressed.  Quite often EHS meetings turn into a presentation of statistics, PowerPoint slides and photos of unsafe practices, with very little constructive discussion.  You need to make sure that your meetings target areas for improvement and prioritize what is needed to be done.  It is pointless trying to discuss 101 issues as people will just switch off.

Final Comment:

EHS meetings can be a great management tool for change, yet if mismanaged they can turn out be nothing but a waste of people’s time.  So  next time you attend a meeting  take a step back and have a real hard look at what is happening.  If the meeting is not working then it’s up to you to raise the issue and recommend changes to other meeting members.