We are nearing a crossroads in health and safety as we know it.
This year is the 97th year of workers compensation and regulation in British Columbia and new research findings are consistently indicating the way towards safer, more productive workplaces.
One big change has been the introduction of Bill 14 and the anti-bullying and harassment policies that were added to the scope of WorkSafeBC’s jurisdiction.
To some, these changes are seen as merely an additional hurdle or hoop to jump through.
They are shaking their heads in disbelief at where our regulator seems to be going with these new rules.
For those people, there are easy to follow tools, which help employers comply with the minimum regulatory standard and get back to their business as usual, however effective that may be.
But, some companies are recognizing these changes for what they actually are and see the huge opportunity they present.
They see these changes as just the first tangible regulatory move towards new minimum standards of how we interact with each other in the construction workplace.
These changes also represent a shift in focus from the physical realities of our working world to the realm of how it feels to be in our workplaces.
That’s actually a very good thing for business.
Many construction employers are starting to realize a glass ceiling effect happening to their return on investments made in safety and human resources.
Despite doing what everyone else is doing and investing in safety as well as their people in all the typical ways, some are feeling that safety issues still pose too great a risk.
There are still too many compensation claims or compliance orders, and employee engagement and productivity levels seem lackluster at best.
The newly required bullying and harassment policies create a crack in that glass ceiling.
For those who see the possibilities, it’s time to widen that crack and break through to new thinking about how we can better achieve both safety and productivity outcomes.
Traditionally, most construction businesses have achieved their success by focusing on the technical or physical aspects of the work they do.
They are applying a management system, be it a production management with schedules and budgets, and/or a safety management system.
Recent findings show that a lack of employee engagement and declining employee attitudes are a significant factor in why losses occur in productivity, quality and safety performance, despite technical know-how and management systems.
When an unanticipated change occurs in the workplace, our ‘multiple layers of defense’ approach sometimes breaks down because our management systems have treated the workforce like a problem to be controlled, not a solution to be harnessed.
We have not effectively utilized the power of people’s ability to adapt and keep operations safe and on track.
We have not sought to engage, align and empower them.
We have seldom, if ever, attempted to delve into how it feels to work for our companies and what factors might affect those feelings.
But, we should.
Not only will we have better protection from loss, we may actually start creating gains in ways we have not before.
Bill 14 is the first legal requirement we’ve seen that says employers have a duty to manage workplace psychological factors to a minimum standard.
Why should we stop at mere compliance, when harnessing the power of our people and moving towards an excellent corporate culture is recognized as the single greatest differentiating factor in business today?
Learn more about this issue and how it impacts the construction industry.
I am presenting Bullying And Harassment: The Pathway To Bill 14 Compliance, And How You Can Improve Overall Business Outcomes In The Process on Feb. 19 starting at 10:30 a.m. at Buildex Vancouver 2014.
Jeff Lyth is a consultant with QSP Leadership Inc. Direct comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.