Career and professional development · Health and Safety Regulations · Health and Safety Training · Learning · Occupational Health and Safety · Risk Assessment

Putting Your Best Foot Forward and Other Idioms for 2016

‘Put your best foot forward’, it’s ‘time to shine’, ‘take the bull by the horns’, let’s not ‘beat around the bush’ or ‘bark up the wrong tree’, if you’re ‘always the bridesmaid and never the bride’ it’s time to ‘turn over a new leaf’…

Resolve to make 2016 your year

At a time of year when we traditionally make resolutions for change, bettering one’s personal self and setting our ‘best foot forward’ into the coming year, we take a moment to pause, consider events of the previous year and look for areas that could benefit from improvement, extra work or, indeed, change.

Put your best foot forward in 2016
Put your best foot forward in 2016

This can equally be applied to the work environment at all levels – not least health and safety. Systems, processes and procedures need a tweak or even overhaul to get the best out of the working week? Now is the time to address what’s been put off or set to the back burner last year.

It doesn’t need to be an all at once ‘attack’ strategy; we’re talking step change, realistic milestones that you can set yourself or your team. Think SMART objectives – a widely used business acronym typically giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives, in, for example project management, employee-performance management and personal development but equally useful applied in everyday life. In fact, my son came home from a recent golf lesson with a set of SMART objectives culminating in a handicap of 4 for summer 2016 (both Specific, Measurable, Attainable – if certain changes are implemented, Realisitc and Timely)…I’ll keep you posted on that one!

The long and the short of it is, SMART objectives can similarly be applied to the world of health and safety – being both easier to understand and more transparent to know when they have been implemented and completed. Following George T. Doran’s 1981 (it’s stood the test of time) SMART mnemonic, your objectives for 2016 should be:

  • Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Attainable– assuring that an end can be achieved.
  • Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

SMART health and safety for the business

Have you provided your employees with the knowledge to keep themselves and others safe in the workplace?
Have you provided your employees with the knowledge to keep themselves and others safe in the workplace?

Generally, health and safety laws apply to every business. As an employer, or a self-employed person, you are responsible for health and safety in your business. However, health and safety for business doesn’t need to be costly, complicated or time-consuming.

Get your ducks in a row – have you taken reasonable steps to prevent accident or harm (injury or illness), to your employees? Have you undertaken the relevant risk assessments? For many businesses, all that’s required is a basic series of practical tasks that protect people from harm and, at the same time, protect the future success and growth of your business. If you can demonstrate that you have undertaken such precautions, you will be protected against paying compensation. So now is the time to ensure policies and procedures are up-to-date! You can read more about your health and safety responsibilities as an employer on the HSE website.

Know your responsibilities – it’s all very well knowing your responsibilities as an employer or business leader, but are your employees (at all levels in the business) aware of their individual responsibilities (both to themselves and others) during the course of their working day? It’s a good time of year to be reflecting on the training that has been carried out in recent years and consider whether refresher courses are required and indeed, whether basic training is being given to new starters? There are many options open to the company here for all levels. Consider basic introductory-level IOSH training (Working Safely/Managing Safely) which can be conducted online for new starters and for more senior business leaders, opt for a tutor-led IOSH Safety for Senior Executives course – both courses can be held in-company at a convenient time.

Take the next steps in your career in 2016 with recognised qualifications
Take the next steps in your career in 2016 with the help of industry recognised qualifications

SMART health and safety for the individual

Planning to take your career up a notch in 2016? It’s the perfect time of year to look ahead and start thinking about building your CV in order to take your career to the next level.

It’s your time to shine – if you have been considering furthering your professional development, why not embark on appropriate, accredited training in 2016 and benefit from the opportunities that form part of being associated with a wider fraternity – networking, insider knowledge, CPD, events, job opportunities and more. Undertaking an internationally recognised qualification doesn’t just represent a sound knowledge base. Gaining professional membership of IOSH by obtaining a NEBOSH qualification could mean that 2016 brings you even more opportunities than you had initially considered.

Don’t bark up the wrong tree – consider the area you want to be successful in and choose your training accordingly. For example, if you have been working in the Oil and Gas industry for a number of years then it would be sensible to consider an industry relevant qualification in the form of the NEBOSH Oil and Gas Certificate, the same could be said of the Construction industry and the tailor-made NEBOSH Construction Certificate.

Know your limits – don’t jump in at the deep end with a course that would stretch you beyond your capabilities, instead build up your knowledge base and give yourself solid foundations and a good platform on which you are more likely to succeed. If you are new to health and safety for example but would like to make the transition to a life-long, rewarding career in this field, a sensible option would be to look at the NEBOSH Certificate or International Certificate course before tackling the more in-depth NEBOSH Diploma or International Diploma. Your chances of ultimate success will be vastly improved having built up your foundations. However, if you already have some industry experience, you may feel that you are ready to press straight ahead with the more challenge topics. Our NEBOSH trained course advisors are always happy to offer advice on suitable qualifications.

Next steps

Spend the next couple of weeks taking stock, reviewing and updating policies and procedures and evaluating the knowledge-base of your staff at all levels. A period of consolidation will prevent you from rushing-in and unnecessarily spending your training budget or opting for the wrong course. Be SMART, but most of all, be happy, healthy and of course, safe in 2016!

On last count that was 13 (unlucky for some) idioms included in this post. If some of them have left you more than a little bewildered, you can take a look at their origins here – if it really tickles your fancy that is….apologies, couldn’t resist that last one!

We’d love to hear you’re resolutions for 2016 in the comments.

Related reading:

Planning your future in health, safety and the environment, Shirley Parsons

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