To tackle challenges and enable a safety-focused culture, a two-pronged approach is needed – introducing safe processes and promoting accountability

In any situation where people are involved, occupational safety must be at the heart of everything we do. It isn’t a choice, nor is it just another priority: it is a fundamental requirement. Moreover, when the actions of our colleagues can result in direct harm, we must pay special attention to instilling behaviours and practices that promote safety and care.

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At DHL Supply Chain we have learnt from our experience as a global employer that regardless of sector or region, best practice requires integration of safety into working culture.

We use two core principles to ensure that our environment is one where our people can flourish, providing a safe pair of hands for our customers and their customers alike.

First, we supply tools and processes to embed behavioural-based safe practice. And second, we abide by a standard set of rules to drive a consistent safety culture.

This allows us to turn high-risk conditions into high-performing, safe operations. Through our ongoing relationships with many NHS trusts, we have been able to improve in-hospital processes by implementing best practice safety procedures within the supply chain. We have standardised processes to create and maintain working environments that are organised, safe, clean, and efficient.

The hospital setting comes with its own unique set of challenges, but a safety culture is paramount to delivering brilliant care. An example of a challenge in acute hospital settings is goods-in bays where there is risk of injury from lack of separation between people and equipment, and inconsistent storage processes due to siloed working.

To tackle challenges and enable a safety-focused culture, a two-pronged approach is needed. First, introduce safe processes:

  • Introduce safety checks into agendas at all levels of the trust
  • Standardise processes to maintain organised, safe, clean, and efficient workplaces
  • Optimise available space and facilities holistically (not by department)

Second, promote accountability:

  • Regularly discuss and remind colleagues of safe behaviours in all meetings
  • Celebrate and reward safe practices

Zero Lost Time – Case study

In 2021, DHL took over a 138,000m2 site that needed to improve its operational control and care.

“It was clear from the first visits that there was no established HSE culture in place,” recalls Leonardo Camargo, DHL’s health, safety and environment manager. “When we added to this to a complex operational model with diverse materials and sizes, we knew that our challenge would be even greater.”

Through DHL implementing its HSE processes the site improved, resulting in a 100 per cent reduction in Lost Time Injuries in 2022. In the past 18 months the site reported an overall reduction of 98 per cent in Lost Time Injuries.

Four actions stand out in Leonardo’s mind as enabling the transformation from an unsafe site to a standout facility:

  1. All operational leadership decisions were made in line with HSE criteria
  2. Each operational level conducted routine safety training during ramp-up and go-live
  3. New equipment handling solutions were added for increased safety and efficiency
  4. DHL tools and processes created and sustained a safety culture

Performance Dialogue is a proven way of driving a safety culture within hospitals, providing colleagues with an opportunity to share concerns and examples of best practice with their peers each day.

DHL’s Hospital Services’ Feedback Friday initiative allows ambulance care assistants to feel empowered to make requests that will improve safety and customer care. New vehicle cleaning bays and personal hygiene facilities were installed as a direct result of these sessions over the past year.

Senior transition manager Paul Bramall ensures safety is the first agenda item in every colleague meeting; “Performance Dialogue empowers people at every level to feedback and share ideas for improvement. We always start by making sure everyone is aware of any incidents or near-misses. Giving the team an opportunity to ask questions keeps an open dialogue so we’re all accountable.”

A true safety culture is achieved only when feedback is valued, positive behaviour is recognised, and ideas are encouraged. The reward is an environment that not only scores highly against HSE criteria, but one in which people feel cared for, and care for one another.

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