Health and Safety for Senior Executives

What it was:

A day of talks and discussions followed by a written test, held in London on 30 October 2018.

What I learned:

H&S leadership:

  • A leader sets culture, directs activity. Leadership is more people focused than a manager. A leader thinks long term and strategically, is proactive rather than reactive.
  • A leader can take risks that a manager then manages.
  • Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.
  • Management is mainly about process. Leadership is mainly about behaviours.
  • Leadership is “getting people to do what you want them to do, because they want to do it” – Dwight Eisenhower
  • Leaders are absolutely key to health and safety. Health and safety regulators look to the leadership first.

Contrary to popular and press opinion, very few things are prohibited by health and safety legislation. Most risks can be managed.

Good health and safety management has numerous benefits aside from keeping people healthy and safe:

  • Productivity
  • Efficiency, financial
  • Confidence and empowerment
  • Reputation
  • Good Health and safety management allows you to do riskier things!

Health and safety requires consultation.

Three reasons for good standards of health and safety management:

  • Moral: having a mind for others
  • Legal: achievement of minimum standards, statute and case law
  • Financial: fines, insured and uninsured costs, insurance premiums, customer expectations.

Note that MOD has crown immunity and is underwritten by the treasury!

Video case study – “the call” :

What costs (in the widest sense) were involved?

  • Human costs of all involved
  • Time and effort for the investigation and potentially prosecution
  • Legal costs and fines
  • Distraction from the business, unable to function normally
  • Loss of business

Bad things will happen. It is possible to do too much on health and safety, at the expense of other things.

What lessons can be taken forward?

  • Have a plan for if things go badly wrong
  • Don’t  be complacent, take action after an accident
  • Consider conducting spot checks – trust but verify
  • In health and safety law, you are effectively guilty until proven innocent
  • Need to be wary of internal checking, it can lead to complacency and box-ticking

The Accident Iceberg

  • For every £1 in insured costs (injury, ill health, damage)
  • …There is £8-£36 in uninsured costs (product damage, plant/building damage etc.)
  • What goes challenged eventually becomes the norm.

Investigating accidents

  • Loss causation
  • Accidents and incidents
  • The ‘multiple causation tree’
  • Outcomes of an event:
    • A1. Injury
    • A2. Loss
    • B1. Near miss

Near misses are hugely valuable. Very few get reported, although the aviation industry is better at doing it.

Investigating an event: Event > Immediate causes > Underlying causes > Root causes
People often don’t get beyond the immediate cause

Immediate causes:
• Unsafe actions
• Unsafe practices

Underlying causes:
• Job
• Organisationn
• Environment

Root causes:
• Management and leadership failures

Not every event can be tracked back this far.

RIDDOR: reporting of injury diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations, set which sorts of injuries etc must be reported by law. E.g. fractures. Reported internally and then in block to the HSE
HSE estimate that only 25% of RIDDOR reportable incidents in industry get reported

Corporate governance

  • HSE: ” for many organisations, health and safety is a corporate governance issue…”
  • Best practice approach: “leading health and safety at work” INDG417
  • This is guidance not law. But could be used as a proxy to best practice in court.

Key actions:

  • Have a health and safety policy
  • health and safety represented on the board
  • Communication of the policy
  • Non exec scrutiny may be useful

Page 16, Paragraph 4 – implies that a jury world consider this guidance in a case even though it is not law. In effect, following this guidance would help you to ‘prove your innocence’

HSE research report 450 – these are case studies that identify and exemplify boards of directors who have championed health and safety

The HSE is a hugely useful source of information and advice on health and safety for senior leaders

Common law duty of care:

  • The duty of every person to take reasonable care over their acts and omissions with regards to themselves and others
  • Failure to do enough may constitute Tort (civil wrong) of negligence, based on:
  • Duty owed (you have a duty to people under your control when they are at work)
  • Duty breached
  • Loss resulted (must be actual loss, not potential)
  • Usually people sue (not prosecute) the employer not the line manger
  • Reasonable foreseeability is important
  • The harmed claimant may be awarded compensation for loss
  • Applies to you in your personal life as well as professional life, E.g. you leave a hole in your driveway and someone breaks their leg!

Employer’s duty of care:

Employer’s obligation to provide:
Safe plant and equipment (and premises)
Safe systems of work and adequate supervision
Competent staff

Tests of liability as regards negligence as above: duty owed, duty breached, loss

Vicarious liability – employers carry liability for the Torts (e.g. negligent actions) of their staff that take place during the course of employment (or under their control)

The overall legal framework:

Health and safety is a mixture of both common and statute law:

Common law:

  • Made by judges. Case law
  • Based on precedent
  • The injured party sues.
  • Civil law
  • Concerns the rights of persons

Statute law:

  • Made by parliament
  • Acts and regulations
  • The crown prosecutes.
  • Criminal law
  • Concerns the rights of society

The Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 aimed to apply to everyone working (even if unpaid), replacing the existing raft of legislation that was industry-specific. Came into force 1 April 1975.

Health and safety criminal law: Employer responsibility

Generally based on:
” So far as is reasonably practicable” – SFAIRP
Which is deemed equivalent to “as low as reasonably practicable”. – ALARP

…which means a balance between cost and risk. It does not require risk to be zero, only minimised.

Under the act, employers are to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees;
• Provision and maintenance of safe plants and systems of work
• safe use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances
• provision of information, instruction, training and supervision
• places of with with safe access and egress maintained in a safe condition (note, this applies to all work locations even if outside)
• a safe and healthy working environment with adequate welfare facilities (e.g. showers, lockers etc)
• also, to conduct their undertaking with a duty to non-employees e.g. visitors, public, contractors

The managing health and safety at work regulations set out what is recommended in more detail.

Practical means useful, effective, usable (a practical stage chair)
Practicable means doable, achievable

Every employer with >5 employees must have a health and safety policy statement, and arrangements for health and safety

Defence H&S policy

Defence Safety Authority publication, DSA01.1 “Defence policy for health, safety and environmental protection”
Sets overarching policy on:

  • Responsibilities in defence activities
  • Risk management
  • Checking and performance reporting
  • Competence, information and training

DSA01.2 “Implementation of defence policy for for health, safety and environmental protection” covers the implementation. This includes guidance on culture. Essentially these publications expand on the secretary of state’s health and safety statement

DSA01.2 sets out the Defence safety and environmental management system, which is itself based on INDG417, the national and international standard

Four steps to implementation

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Check
  • Act

Designers and suppliers and employee responsibility

Designers and suppliers have a responsibility for equipment etc. And if you alter a piece of equipment you may have liability.

Health and safety at work act says these responsible apply:

Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers:
Safe by design and in provision i.e. fit for purpose
Adequate training and examination
Provision of suitable information for use, etc

Duty to themselves and others
Duty to cooperate with employer
Duty to report any hazard they become aware of (this is key, and new)

Personal responsibility

HASWA section 37: senior managers have responsibility if consent connivance or neglect can be proven, and are guilty of an offence

HASWA section 36: act or default: if a senior person directs a junior person to do something that beaches health and safety, both parties are potentially guilty of the same offence

The Directors Disqualification Act – potentially 15 years, although not applicable to public authorities

HASWA enforcement in MOD

HSE cannot issue Improvement or Prohibition notices on MOD or its agencies add they are an exempt crown body. However:

HSE can issue Crown Enforcement Notices – these are adminstrative notices which in practice have the same effect as Improvement or Prohibition Notices

HSE cannot take prosecution action in a criminal court but can take a Crown Censure – an adminstrative sanction that is taken very seriously by Crown Bodies

HSE target enforcement areas across all organisations:

  • Work at height
  • Management of legionella potential
  • Management of asbestos
  • Pedestrian and vehicle interaction
  • Unplanned maintenance work
  • Management of vibration

MOD personal responsibility

Duty Holding

  • This is essentially how MOD ensures personal responsibility for health and safety down the command chain.
  • Based on controls, ‘risk to life’ and ALARP
  • Duty Holders must have a formal letter of delegation and a valid course certificate
  • Some specific “risk to life” activities always require a duty holder due to their high risk nature.

Personal responsibility – general reminders

  • Challenge yourself in relation to your role and responsibilities against INDG417
  • Ask yourself – am I doing enough? Am I meeting the MOD need?
  • Read the small print – look for shall / will / must
  • Remember good communication is essential, including job descriptions
  • If you are not going to do it, don’t say it
  • Remember ‘NA, FOF!’ – never assume, find out first!

Gross negligence and fatalities

Possible charges available for individual:
Gross negligence manslaughter (rare apart from ‘one man bands’)
Note: it is generally not the policy of the courts to put the firm out of business

Corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide act 2007

This applies to public authorities

  • Gross breach of duty of care
  • Conduct that falls far below what can reasonably be expected of the organisation in the circumstances
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Breach by senior management in organising or managing activities

MOD has some exemptions:

  • Operations where the armed forces come under attack or threat of attack
  • Activities in support of such operations
  • Training of a hazardous nature, necessary to maintain effectiveness of the armed forces

Management regulations 1999

These require the Employer to have suitable arrangements for health and safety in place
Record > planning > organisation > control > monitoring > review of protective and preventative measures

Risks resulting from MOD activities *must* be risk assessed
• Are based on initial hazard identification
• Must be suitable and sufficient

*Hazard is the potential for harm
*Risk is the chance of damage combined with the harm that could result i.e. impact times probability or likelihood versus severity
Controls and mitigation are to be SFAIRP / ALARP

ERIC.PD – mnemonic for risk mitigation:

  • Eliminate
  • Reduce
  • Isolate
  • Competent person
  • PPE
  • Discipline (safe place, safe person)

Health, as well as safety

  • Five times as many cases of ill health as of safety
  • 1.2 million suffer work related ill health annually
  • Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost UK society an estimated £14.3bn in 2014/15
  • The main issue is ill health not accidents, e.g.
    • Asbestos related disease
    • Noise and vibration
    • Asthma
    • Stress issues
    • Dermatitis

Human factors and behaviours

  • Defined by the HSE in HSG48: “environmental, organisational. Job factors are human characteristics which influences behaviour at work in a way that can affect health and safety
  • SQEP: having knowledge and experience to undertake a task safely
  • Some roles may require ongoing verification of competence
  • Engagement and communication
  • Safety culture has a serious effect
  • Visible leadership is key
  • Ignore human factors at your peril!

Summary: Key principles that underpin good health and safety performance:

  • Assessment and review
  • Worker involvement
  • Strong and active leadership – peer influence is very strong
  • Things to consider – Are near misses being reported?

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Read the HSE guiee in full and consider any local actions
  • Read DSA01.1 and DSA01.2. Use the plan-do-check-act methodology to recover my actions
  • Use next team day to check that everyone understands the people and processes for reporting health and safety incidents
  • Set tone for reporting accidents, reporting and acting on concerns, and fire drills
  • Have a wellbeing focus at next team day
  • Seek advice from internal authorises around reasonable actions for health and safety in my area

Defence Connect Symposium

What it was

Talks and breakout sessions on social collaboration in defence, with various speakers including knowledge management consultant Chris Collison, held at MOD on 24 October 2018.

What I learned

  • Knowledge is key to the defence enterprise
  • The need for additional logins is a barrier to adoption of social collaboration in defence
  • Not everyone is happy to use a personal device for work
  • We need processes and curation around wikis and similar tools.

Social Collaboration:

  • Collaboration is the combination of:
    • Authenticity
    • Trust
    • Passion
  • Authenticity – being your own open self, known to yourself and to others – is key for successful social collaboration
  • Trust requires vulnerability. It thrives under reciprocation.
  • Tom Davenport’s “kindergarten rationale” posits on when and why
  • Passion is enthusiasm, commitment, devotion, curiosity
  • A simple model for online communities:
    • Communities of interest
    • Communities of practice
    • Communities of purpose
  • Learning communities can be thought of across various dimensions:
    • Inside vs outside
    • Formal vs informal
    • Learning from, each other with
  • The Met Office have a simple charter for their communities of practice: its purpose, membership, roles, ways of working and tools, behaviours, and its outcomes and measures
  • Consumers, contributors, creators – the rule thumb ratio is
    90:9:1. Defence connect is about 70:20:10 which is healthy.
  • Syngenta used “TREE” awards for their communities of practice; for Transfer of a good practice, Reuse of a good practice, Embedding a good practice, sharing a difficult Experience.

What I will aim to do differently as a result

  • Explore whether we can get the app installed on official phones
  • Export and explain the success that the Army has had.
  • Explore how Defence Connect can formally support learning via the DLMC project
  • Re-engage with the online defence and wider Government communities

Commercial Skills for Leaders

What it was:

A one-day course on commercial skills as part of the Future Leaders Scheme in Pimlico, London on 17 October 2018.

Key outcomes for the course:

  • Build individual confidence in commercial work and decisions
  • To ensure that we are applying good commercial judgement (not falling into just commercial compliance)
  • To assist in “doing the right thing”

What I learned:

The commercial context:

  • General shift away from simple buying of goods as a customer, to more complex supplying of services in a partnership
  • Tempo and change are only increasing

Commercial management is:

  • The alignment of stakeholders to increase the probability of a successful outcome from a trading relationship
  • The business discipline that ensures all relevant stakeholder views are incorporated and evaluated…
  • …So that customer needs and supplier capabilities are aligned, and commercial risks are identified and managed

It’s worth understanding the level of mutual commitment between the supplier and customer. There are some parallels with public relations. Getting alignment is something that senior leaders work on, it is not something that you can delegate to commercial staff.

You need to understand what your desired business outcomes are before you can communicate them.

The contract is at the end of a long process of decision, exploration and alignment.
You should spend most effort before and after going to market, not during the procurement process (the DNA model)

A survey showed around 9% of project value leaks away… Top sources are lack of clear scope and goals; involving legal and contract teams too late; failure to engage stakeholders; adversarial negotiations

Think what will drive supplier behaviours… Can often be better to focus on outcomes not process. Otherwise it may drive perverse behaviours, e.g. an IT helpdesk may be paid by number of calls handled when actually fewer IT problems would be a better metric

Inception, initiation and pre-policy:

Aim to be an ‘intelligent client’ in the inception phase
Aim to achieve an honest appraisal of needs, opportunities and possible approaches

What questions should you ask to enable intelligent business decisions?
* What is the vision for this project / relationship?
* What commercial outcome is being sought?
* What are the major risks and opportunities?


  • What structure of relationship with suppliers do we need?
  • Reflect on the importance of creating a joint team
  • Assess the three Rs:
    • Risk: commercial, financial, business/reputation, market
    • Reward: incentives, payment mechanisms, reputation, contract extensions
    • Remedy: legal measures, liabilities/indemnities, liquidated damages, termination
  • Understand the longer term impacts of decision making in terms of contractual obligations, cost, IPR, legacy and how to manage these to deliver the goal

What type of agreement to use?

  • Ensure advisors provide pros and cons
  • How will the model cope with future changes?
  • Every requirement has a cost, direct or indirect
  • Evaluate the true cost of risk transfer
  • Act as intelligent client with advisors
  • Plan for exit from the very beginning

Case study: delayed development of a new aircraft. What went wrong?

  • Enhanced risk from their extended network
  • Once issues began they compounded themselves
  • Unable to control critical elements of the supply chain
  • Organisation was not ready for the communication levels required
  • Heavy outsourcing but lack of supplier relationship management
  • …Could this happen in Government? What could you do to prevent it?

Different contracting terms are of different importance, depending if time, cost or quality are the most important.

Relationship management

The impact on outcome success in rank order:

  • Communication
  • Risk allocation
  • Problem solving
  • No blame culture
  • Joint working
  • Gain and pain sharing
  • Mutual objectives
  • Performance measurement
  • Continuous improvement

The more people-oriented things are highest on the list. Contracts are ultimately between people. Lawyers may see a contract as a means of limiting risk but most contracts are driven by economics.

What does this mean for the leader?

The agreement type needs to be the right one, so consider:

  • Risk, reward, remedy
  • Long term impacts of decisions e.g cost, obligations, IPR
  • Flexibility to change deliverables following changes in technology, needs or capabilities
  • Focus on the objective and define it clearly
  • Ensure communication is appropriate, timely, efficient, two way and honest

What can go wrong?

Lessons from case study exercise:

  • Don’t forget the broader landscape
  • Get policy right before you start
  • Design your strategy in the context of common causes of failure and identified best practice
  • Poor relationship set-up and management can destroy value
  • Beware of having too many variables outside your direct control
  • The final price is almost always higher than the day one price
  • Understand whether you are a customer or a partner. If the purchase is not simple then likely you are partners!
  • Accountabilities are difficult where contracts are very long and people turn over rapidly
  • Always put the effort in to understand up front.
  • It’s worth revisiting these case studies

Lean sourcing: commercial aspects of sourcing and understanding suppliers

  • Understand what motivates and constrains your suppliers
  • Your goals and your behaviours impact the behaviours of your suppliers
  • Build effective relationships through collaboration

What is true collaboration?

  • Assertiveness is concern for own needs
  • Cooperativeness is concern for others’ needs
  • True collaboration is when assertiveness and cooperativeness are both high.
  • This is the creative, win-win zone with principled negotiation
  • Competing is high assertiveness, low cooperativeness; power relationship, win-lose, at the expense of the other
  • Accommodating is low assertiveness, high cooperativeness, caving in, lose-win
  • Avoidance is low assertiveness, low cooperativeness; nettles not grasped, lose-lose
  • Compromise is in the middle – not getting best value, partially factory to each

Alignment of goals (case study)

  • Contract looked too narrowly at performance KPIs
  • Contract incentivised corner-cutting
  • Relationship performance should be built into contracts and in ways that benefit all parties
  • Suppliers may downplay failure. Conversely, as customers we often struggle to have a honest conversion about performance
  • Open book contracting may have been better… That means being open about costs and collaborating on what costs can be reduced and what can’t


  • Use your leadership capability to maximise the commercial result for the crown
  • Leverage and enhance your team’s capability to deliver
  • Incorporate and engage your suppliers as part of the team
  • What are the measurements and objectives of your staff and the impact these have on their behaviour

Set your objectives wisely:

  • Focus the team on the key outcomes:
  • Do your agreements encourage our discourage innovation or continuous improvement?
  • Is your approach to risk allocation and risk sharing having the desired outcome?

Managing contracts, implementation and post contract change

What reviews do we need? Some ideas:

  • Check understanding of outcomes
  • Check quality of relationship
  • Active risk management
  • Lessons learned and improvements
  • Joint board for project delivery plan
  • Shared risks and mitigation actions

What commercial aspects to monitor as a minimum?

  • Compliance with the conditions and schedules
  • Disputes, claims, escalations
  • Balanced score card
  • Contract calendar
  • Change control
  • Q & A database

Top sources of value leakage identified by the people in the room:

  • Lack of clear scope and goals
  • Contracts lack flexibility and governance
  • Weak post-award processes

Exit planning

  • You need to start planning for exit before you draft the tender
  • Includes: early termination, end of contract, transition, ongoing obligations

Exit questions

  • How can we learn to take to new projects?
  • How do we maintain a competitive option (not create a monopoly)?
  • How do we minimise risk in transition (e.g. licenses, assets, access to facilities)
  • What do we do with the people, the assets and the IP?
  • Do we have to run another tender for a follow on service?
  • What are the obligations on incumbent to support transition?
  • How do we safeguard the service to the end of the contract (e.g. maintain supplier enthusiasm)?

Bringing it all together

The golden rules:

  • Ensure an appropriate stakeholder analysis
  • Test for realism – how do we know this can be done?
  • Ensure common understanding of goals and benefits
  • Validate capabilities, trust but verify
  • Don’t rely upon negative performance incentives
  • Apply rigour, but that does not mean be adversarial

Final thoughts:

  • Behind almost every successful endeavour in Government is a successful contract
  • The three Rs in commercial decision making: risk, reward and remedy
  • Contract terms and commercial vehicles largely drive how people work with us

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Set vision and outcomes for commercial engagements, not just deliverables
  • Ensure my team have the support and advice they need on commercial engagements
  • Get senior buy in to what we are contracting for, i.e. the outcomes
  • Surface and address challenges around all the contacts we operate
  • Make more time for long term planning and thinking… This is a key part of leading.
  • Remember to revisit this learning as there is a lot of content here.
  • Try to ensure that teams are genuinely collaborating, not competing, accommodating or compromising

The modern leader in defence

What it was:

Talk by a senior MOD leader to the ISS leadership cohort in Corsham on 9 October 2018.

What I learned:


  • You are a highly evolved ape!
  • Think about the psychological environment you create for your team
  • Systems of thinking, fast and slow
  • Self awareness is key
  • Create an environment that encourages Reasonable Challenge

A simple framework for leadership:

  • A leader leads three things: issues, people and change.

Leading issues:

  • The product: must be credible, consistent, defensible, logical, viable
  • Stakeholders: use empathy, trust and assertiveness

Leading people:

  • Be effective at what you do. This is fundamental to leadership.
  • Be a time traveller; see five years hence, and reflect on how things have moved.
  • Have a clear view of success and failure, beware the dangers of linear narratives,
  • take a probabilistic view of success and failure
  • Be human: learn about your people, which team they support, their children’s names.

Leading change:

  • Change happens to us. We adapt to change. Therefore leading change is really just leading adaptation.
  • In essence it’s the role of the leader to force the adaptation
  • Evolution is a good analogy – it can be gradual or drama
  • Reputation is the only real currency of leadership: The metric is what will people be saying about you / this in five years time
  • There are many different leadership models, both quiet and loud

In summary:

  • Lead through people
  • Make sure the team is adapting
  • Be conscious of your reputation

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Think about things in terms of issues, people and change – not just issues
  • Use the framework above as a way of organising my planning time
  • Ask my people about themselves more.

Email handling technique

What it was:

Various conversations on on how to deal with large volumes of emails this year.

What I learned:

Aim to deal with emails with ‘one touch’:

  • No more than two minutes on each one, ideally 5 seconds
  • Leave ones that will require substantive action for later
  • Always respond to ones from bosses/senior customers, and prioritise these responses
  • Reply immediately to say if you will be unable to meet the deadline
  • Capture the ones requiring substantive action somewhere else e.g. your action tracker

There are lots of different approaches to folders: simplest is just to have four: inbox, deletable archive, keep archive, personal archive. Your aim is to get everything out of the inbox ASAP.
If your email system allows, use labels/categories to sort emails, but get the software to assign the labels itself through rules

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Make time every week for getting my work inbox down
Remind myself of this list
Set myself a challenge to see how much I can reduce my personal (non work) inbox in an hour