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Health and Safety Principle 1 - Engaging People

Welcome to my Words of Wisdom series of Principles that support a successful Health and Safety culture. We believe the Health and Safety Principles are the road map or touch stones within your organisation. They govern your defining actions, beliefs and interactions with others and how you integrate safety into your organisation’s procedures and culture.  They are the underpinning of your culture that can be read, understood and enacted by all. In this Blog I will be discussing Principle 1 and why engaging your people is a priority.

There are eight principles in total, the benefits of applying them are that:

  • Those who join your team will know how you do what you do and be able to quickly join in with your organisation, be part of the culture to get up and running quickly.
  • They will also see how the people in your organisation speak, interact and get along with each other.

The Principles assist and provide you with guidance around difficult and conflicting paths of conversation:  should I report something, or who do I speak to (those verbal and sometimes derailing practices that are unwritten within a culture).  Having a set of principles to guide you and your team is the key. 

The very first principle is Principle 1 – Engaging with People. Here I explain how to do that: how to really engage and practice what you believe while showing others the way forward. 


One of the cornerstones of Health and Safety is Engagement. Engagement with your People, your Suppliers, Contractors and Clients.

A key part of good engagement is asking the right questions, and listening (and I mean listening). The benefits are an engaged and committed workforce at all levels which goes way beyond Health and Safety, into excellent interactions with the client, quality of work, loyal workers etc.

This was never more evident than my interaction with completely different companies recently. One, a large company that produces products for national and international markets, and the other a small building company with about eight employees plus a large labour force of casual workers.

The large company focus is on Financial Performance (First Priority), and Compliance (Second Priority). The Health and Safety Advisor has very little support and authority, and other drivers/priorities in the business mean that:

  • Incidents are not reported or effectively investigated;
  • Risks are poorly managed;
  • Training is poor;
  • Employees are not consulted;
  • Due Diligence at every level is poor. The list goes on.

As a result, the workforce are not engaged in their work, the safety procedures that are in place are often not being followed, quality is suffering and wastage is common.

By contrast, the Director of the small company is absolutely passionate about his people. He talked about his love of mentoring young men and turning them into amazing people with purpose, his commitment to working with his team to ensure that their clients have the best experience possible, making sure his team have the right tools, training, resources etc. to do their job safely, and as a by-product, do an excellent job for his clients. The passion was very visible and spilled over to his engagement in his local community where he is actively involved in working with people to reduce obesity. As a result, they had few incidents, risks are effectively managed, the workforce was engaged, he (the Director) was able to delegate and trust his staff more, there is low employee turn-over, and he is attracting quality recruits.

I cannot express enough the importance of engaging with the people that are key to your business. This means:

  1. Creating the right environment to communicate.
  2. Asking the right questions.
  3. Listening, listening and more listening.
  4. Following up on your promises or agreed actions.
  5. Checking-in to see if the actions have worked.
  6. Reviewing with your people, and more listening.

See here for a list of all 8 Health and Safety Principles.

If you would like some more wisdom and advice on how to kick-start a great engagement programme with your people, you need to talk to us on 0800 023789 or email info@allaboutpeople.co.nz.

Craig Macdonald, All About People Director Special Operations.

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