It would be wrong to be discussing the popular sport of darts, without mentioning the smash hit 80’s and 90’s game show, Bullseye. One of Jim Bowens (the host’s) famous sayings during the show was “up to the oche – and listen to Tony”. If you were to use a dartboard as an analogy and place all the different Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) requirements around the dartboard and then take just one dart. By throwing the dart, unless you miss the dart board altogether, you are likely to hit at least one score (even if it’s the 1). That one segment may contain an OSH topic for the public sector that seems trivial, however it could just be one area that could cause a public sector organisation to stumble. That stumble is likely to significantly cost a public sector organisation.
During my time working for and with public sector organisations, I am aware of the many challenges that these organisations face. They face some of their toughest challenges in many years, not to mention the impact of COVID-19 and the last twelve months. Reduced budgets, increased demand for their services and transparency (or duty of candour for those working with patients/service users) to name a few. There are many areas for a public sector organisation, in which to stumble and OSH management is just one key area. Take our dart board analogy again and this time if you were to place all the various management areas an organisation requires to manage (such as Human Resources, Finances, Operations, Marketing etc.) around the dartboard segments. You are likely to be able to join the importance of them all together using the dartboard frame. Without one the other is affected to its detriment and thus OSH is interlinked to all areas of an organisation.
Those leaders within the public sector generally are focused on the key deliverable i.e. the service that organisation delivers. So how does any organisation, but particularly the public sector keep compliance at the centre of its commitment whilst delivering all of the other areas.
In my experience, it is simple, look after people.
A favourite quote of mine is from the Entrepreneur Richard Branson “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. Any organisation that wants success and to achieve (or at least be working towards) compliance, must look after its most important asset, it’s people. At the heart of health and safety is people and at the heart of any organisation is its people. Therefore, the two must be interlinked.
Returning to Bullseye and the sport of darts, there are three lessons we can learn:
- To be successful you must use your eyes and ears. From a distance, it’s hard to tell from the oche if you have hit the Bullseye, so you must walk get closer. Leaders must leave their offices and get closer to their people, after all, they are your eyes and ears of your organisation. Get to know them, they will help you to become compliant and become your eyes and ears of compliance.
- Communicate well. In darts, even if you’re not a fan, you typically love the announcers cry of 180! Organisations and leaders must communicate their intentions, success and areas of weakness to its people and allow them to help your achieve compliance.
- Recognise success. Darts is a competitive sport with big prizes up for the taking. OSH is no different, the organisations that achieve compliance, celebrate their victories and recognise their people.
Every organisation starts with a score of 501 and unless you keep compliance in the bullseye, you are likely to lose your game. Commit to compliance and commit to your people, all the rest will fall behind. It’s that simple.
Scott Crichton was first introduced to health and safety as part of his role within the military back in 2004. His first full time role began in 2006 as a health and safety co-ordinator within the financial industry. After seven years, he progressed to a regional role within the ambulance service, before obtaining his current Principal Consultant role with Ellis Whittam covering counties in South West England. As a consultant, he finds himself working alongside various clients across a wide client base, including but not limited to education, engineering, health & social care, manufacturing, retail, pharmaceutical, small & medium contractors and town & parish councils.
Scott is a member of the HSE People Panel offering insight into HSE in the Public Sector. If you would like to ask Scott or another panel member a question get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org