November 28th, 2014
Protecting the people within your organisation, and the organisation itself, is something that should be at the top of every manager's agenda.
With the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, the responsibility of the health and safety of employees no longer sits on the shoulders of one person; it is an organisation-wide issue that must be dealt with appropriately.
From the Managing Directors to the administration staff, health and safety is a priority that should be at the forefront of every employees mind.
Having a Health and Safety Officer who has the relevant skills and experience goes a long way in ensuring your organisation is on the right path to ensuring that policies are achieving best practice standards. After all, prevention is cheaper than a cure.
So, when sourcing candidates for your Health and Safety Officer, what actions should you take?
When taking on any new employee, it is vital that you have a clear and concise plan of where you see that employee fitting in to your organisation not only at that moment in time, but also in the future as well.
Consider the size of your organisation. Is this something that is going to remain consistent? Or are there plans in your future to expand and increase workforce numbers? It is vital that you have a clear vision of where your organisation is going, to ensure that you can get the right candidate with the relevant skills and experience who will be able to deal with the needs of your organisation the first time round.
Another point to consider is the sector in which your organisation sits. Now, this may seem like an obvious point to make, however, it is often an overlooked one. If your organisation is in manufacturing, with staff working with dangerous machines on a day-to-day basis, then a Health and Safety Officer with experience in retail may not be the best fit for your organisation, however enticing their resume may seem. Sometimes, it is best to stick with what you know.
You should also consider your existing health and safety competencies before you take on a new employee. If there are changes to be made, ensure that you know about them before your new Health and Safety Officer starts, and take pre-emptive measures so that everybody is on the same page.
Consider the role
When taking on your new Health and Safety Officer, consider the role and exactly what it will entail.
It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure that an exit interview is conducted with your previous Health and Safety Officer. After all, they would know the role inside out, and can offer you a first hand account of what is good and what is bad about the current policies you have in place, and vital information about any changes that should be made to the job role before you take on your new employee.
Consider the person
When considering candidates, ensure that their knowledge and experience meets the needs and requirements of your organisation. This may again seem like an obvious statement to make, however, often managers hire employees on word of mouth from trusted sources without delving into the history of the person. In some cases this may go off without a hitch, but you can never be too sure.
Also, an important factor to consider would be whether the candidate fits in with your team. Do they have the same mentality as the rest of your workforce? Do their culture and values match those of your business? Often, candidates are given the role based on their experience and knowledge, without any consideration being given to whether they would actually be able to work well within the team. Sometimes, experience isn't everything.
Finally, ensure that reference checks are carried out. There is no better way to get to grips with your candidate than speaking to their previous employers. After all, they have worked with the candidate and would have the best knowledge of their capabilities within the role, as well as an insight into how they work within a team.
Get it right the first time
If you feel that you need a little help during the recruitment process, instructing a capable health and safety recruitment agency can offer an invaluable insight into achieving a successful recruitment process. Offering expert advise in this area, a recruitment agency can help to ensure that the needs of your organisation will be met by sourcing the perfect candidate for you.
Another helpful tip is to take advantage of the work history of your perspective employees, and even offer work-sampling opportunities. Past behaviour is an incredible indication of future work, and by taking advantage of these opportunities you can ensure that you are getting the best picture of what a perspective employee will be bringing to your business.
Also, during the recruitment process, be as open with candidates as possible. Ensure that you take advantage of opportunities for role-playing and share work performances. This offers a two-way stream of open communication between yourself and the candidates, and gives a clear indication of what is expected of the potential role from both parties.
The health and safety of your organisation doesn't rest on one person; it is and must be a whole team effort. However, having staff in place that have the relevant skills and experience, as well as adequate training and knowledge on the issues, will ensure that your business is on the right track to achieving a safe and happy workplace for all.
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