Success in speaking up | IMPAC health and safety

26 July, 2018  |  News

Is an organisational culture which encourages people to speak up when they see something that isn’t right the number one success factor in health and safety?

A Safety Institute of Australia conference speaker claims that it is.


marketing man person communicationHealth and safety success could be improved by people speaking up. Photo by gratisography on


Practical advice

The speaker, who works in the healthcare profession, went on to say that 70 percent of healthcare staff will not speak up every time, even if what they are seeing could lead to the death of a patient.

Including speaking up, the speaker had five tips for conference-goers:

Be sure your activities add value and that you can say how. “Safe businesses make more money. Know why. We need to be very articulate at answering questions like that.”

Be pragmatic and don’t catastrophise. At one healthcare facility, someone with medical issues tripped over a speed hump and died. Some risk managers, the speaker said, would jump to the conclusion that all speed humps must be removed: “Look at consequence and likelihood. Getting rid of them isn’t the way to do it.”

Executive commitment. “To have safety at the highest level of a company speaks volumes.” They outlined that their company’s chief executive recently spent for four months on the road visiting every one of the company’s Australian facilities. The chief executive held open-question sessions that anyone could attend and at every session, took ten minutes to talk about health and safety.

And lastly;

Use industry-based staff. The speaker said their entire safety team is made up of nurses and the company’s chief operating officer is a nurse. Safeguard reports that their parting lesson was: just as you shouldn’t attempt to impose some standardised health and safety approach on an organisation, so you should seek to use health and safety people who know the industry backwards.