This week our CMSE Safety Consultant Aisling Hegarty outlines the benefits of promoting Psychological Safety in the workplace.
American Professor, Social Scientist and Author Brené Brown explains that in order for leaders to be successful in their role they should have the vulnerability and courage to be there for people, even in times of fear and uncertainty. In her book Daring Greatly she says. “Daring leaders work to make sure people can be themselves and feel a sense of belonging.”
For a long time, workplace safety considered only the physical and chemical hazards as the key risks to employees. For example, manual handling, slip, fall or trip hazards, noise, industrial chemicals. However, the increasing awareness of addressing the psychosocial factors (i.e. bullying, workload and stress) in the workplace focused the spotlight further on the area of Psychological Safety. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many uncertainties and changes, both in peoples’ personal and professional life. It has changed the way people work, so much so, a Work Life Balance Bill has been submitted to the Irish Government which recognises the importance of balancing life’s responsibilities with work responsibilities.
This blog piece outlines what leaders need to do in order to integrate psychological safety in the workplace and discuss the benefits of becoming ‘daring leaders’.
What exactly is psychological safety?
The term ‘Psychological Safety’ was first coined by Professor Amy Edmondson. She describes the term ‘team psychological safety’ as “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking”. It acknowledges the importance of the work – team with a view that their shared humanity and respect for one another are important contributors. In addition to connection and engagement, vulnerability in the workplace is a driver for building a successful leader. When leaders and employees feel exposed to their failings and mistakes, they tend to place blame on others rather than taking accountability and responsibility for their actions. However, by admitting their faults and speaking honestly and openly they can inevitably build trust and respect among employees.
In her research Professor Edmondson found that interpersonal trust and respect are vital components in psychological safety. Leaders may also be exposed to vulnerability by admitting to their own uncertainties or by simply saying to an employee ‘I do not have the answer’. There is also a stigma around the sharing of emotions and personal issues as this may render them weak or unable to do their work competently. However, in psychological safety vulnerability should be rewarded rather than scorned. It allows for that necessary engagement, transparency and promotes overall performance within the workforce.
In the below diagram, Professor Edmondson describes her own 2×2 matrix for how psychological safety relates to performance standards in the workplace:
To integrate psychological safety into the workplace, leaders will need to observe their overall safety management framework and make the necessary changes to adapt their ways. There are four key stages recommended for creating psychological safety in the workplace. These include; Inclusion Safety; Learner Safety; Contributor Safety and Challenger Safety:
To help them navigate through these different stages leaders will need to practice and cultivate the following attitudes;
Stages in creating psychological safety in the workplace:
What are the beneficial outcomes of psychological safety?
The first benefit is creating that safe space for ‘Personal Learning’. Leaders can influence their workers to speak up, ask the tough questions and be transparent within their team. The next benefit for leaders is ‘Risk Management’. The Risk Management standard ISO 31000:2018 describes the standard as to “..create and protect value in organisations by managing risks, making decisions, setting and achieving objectives and improving performance”. Considering this definition of risk management, it is about dealing with and discussing risks in the workplace thoroughly and skilfully in order to appropriately manage them. ‘Innovation’ is the third benefit and allows workers to brainstorm, talk about new ideas on how certain tasks can be improved upon and overall creating engagement within the work-team. The final benefit is ‘Job Satisfaction’. When leaders create a work environment that promotes psychological safety they will feel more included, appreciated and more confident in their ability to perform their role within the organisation.
Psychological safety has been regarded as a human need and thus leaders are being asked to ensure this human need is being met. Experts in Leadership training believe leaders need to be the ‘architect’ in order to bring about this change in the safety management structure. Leaders can generate a culture of psychological safety and integrate it within their overall safety management system, however they must first cultivate bravery and dare to take the lead.
Exposure to high levels of noise, either continuously or suddenly, such as loud bang from equipment, can have a number of physiological and psychological effects on workers including stress, tinnitus. Permanent loss of hearing can occur if workers are exposed to high noise levels over long periods of time. It is imperative employers ensure Occupational Noise Assessments are being conducted
What does the legislation cover on noise in the workplace?
Under Chapter 1 Part 5 (Control of Noise at Work) of the General Application Regulations 2007, it sets out the obligations of employers to protect employees from excessive noise levels. The regulation specifies two noise Action Levels and they are as follows:
The regulations also introduce an “Exposure Limit Value” as follows:
When employees are likely to be exposed to noise at work above the lower exposure action value, an employer is obliged to carry out a detailed Noise Risk Assessment, completed by a competent person.
What is involved in a noise risk assessment?
A Noise Risk Assessment will identify and assess the risks poised by noise in your workplace and environment in accordance with all current Irish noise legislation and current best practice. Below are typical steps to be carried out for a noise risk assessment within a factory setting:
It also important to note where any changes, for example, changes to employees, shift patterns, hours of work, machinery used or other operational issues, you will need to redo your Noise Risk Assessments. Overall, the employer must establish and implement a programme of technical and organisational measures to reduce exposure.
CMSE Consultancy provides independent professional and practical advice on your duties under these regulations. Our Occupational and Environmental Noise Assessment services include:
Did you know that the Chris Mee Group is an Approved Training Institute by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council of Ireland for First Aid Training?
Our 3 day PHECC First Aid Responder training program is delivered in line with the PHECC FAR Education and Training Standards and also the PHECC FAR CPG’s that were updated by PHECC last August.
These CPGs ensure that responders and practitioners are practicing to best international standards and support PHECC’s vision that people in Ireland receive excellent pre-hospital emergency care.
Some of the changes to the PHECC FAR CPG’s include:
“Take standard infection control precautions. Ensure correct PPE is utilised in all situations and is compliant with the latest guidance on standard, contact, droplet, and airborne PPE. Place facemasks on patients when required. Handwashing and hand hygiene should be performed before and after all patient interactions. Utilise PPE checklists for correct donning and doffing procedures”.
To find out more information or to book a place one of our upcoming courses you can Click Here
By Alan O’Donovan and Jake Bumpus, Safety Engineering Consultants at CMSE Consultancy
Machinery Safety Risk Assessments consist of the same basic considerations as any other type of Risk Assessment, and can be carried out by the following step-by-step approach:
There are a wide range of tools and methodologies available to safety professionals to allow them to estimate the level of risk associated with each identified machine hazard, and determine whether or not the current level of risk is as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).
One methodology which is frequently used in Machinery Safety Risk Assessments is known as the Hazard Rating Number (HRN) method.
Using the HRN system, once a machine hazard is identified, numerical values are assigned based on the following factors which aid in estimating and evaluating the risk related to a particular hazard:
Once the numerical values are assigned to each of the factors above, the hazard rating number (HRN) can be calculated by HRN = LO x FE x DPH x NP. The HRN number can then be equated with an overall risk level, using the table below.
A benefit of using this approach is that a relatively good degree of consistency can be achieved for a particular hazard, even if different individuals are undertaking the assessment. It also allows for the degree of the risk reduction achieved by a suggested new control measure to be quantified, using the following formula:
As with many quantitative risk assessment methodologies, a potential pitfall of this method is not being appropriately conservative when selecting the relevant HRN values. This could lead to an unrealistically low evaluation of the risk level, and so important safety improvements are overlooked. Alternatively, if overly conservative values are selected, then this may overestimate the level of risk, leading to the implementation of unnecessary costly improvements.
Therefore, as for all risk assessment methodologies, it is important that Machinery Safety Risk Assessments are carried out by a competent person or team, who have the right level of knowledge, experience, and skills in this area.
CMSE Consultancy is a leading provider of Machinery Safety Support to many clients nationally and internationally. Our specialists provide practical advice, training, and machinery solutions to support your particular needs. Our team work to legislative requirements and benchmark against industry best practice.
Chris Mee Group are delighted to be supporting Kayls Cole for the 2022 Season. The 18-year-old, Leaving Certificate student is one of the brightest young stars of Irish motorsport and the first female Karter in Ireland to move up to single seater racing and made the bold move to race in the highly competitive UK F1000 championship in 2021.
Having recently been presented with the award for “highest-scoring novice” in the 2021 F1000 Championship prizegiving ceremony at Silverstone, Kayls is working hard to balance her leaving cert exam prep and career in motorsport. Her ambition is to be the first Irish women to race in the all-female W series championship. This alongside her passion for art and engineering are major contributory reasons for her post leaving cert course choice of Mechanical Engineering with a race team in Britain.
The Chris Mee Group supports the development of young talent in many ways.
Our people are our biggest asset and we believe in supporting and encouraging young people in advancing their careers, be it in motor sport or in academia.
We have sponsored a number of academic awards in various third level colleges in the past.
We also pride ourselves in our Graduate programme. The Chris Mee Group will be hiring a number of graduates this year. See HERE for more details
In the meantime we look forward to following Kayls progress in the pre rounds of the British Monoposto championship and the F1000 championship this year!