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HSE Stakeholder Workshop

14 July 2009, Hesperia Hotel, London


1. There is evidence to suggest that in many businesses employee involvement still lags well behind what HSE and others might wish to see as a minimum.

2. To help tackle this, on 29 April HSE's Board supported proposals aimed at promoting and improving levels of workplace involvement (particularly in non-unionised workplaces with between 20 and 400 employees) over the next two financial years (2009 to 2011). HSE are currently considering a number of initiatives to support these aims.

3. A Board Paper HSE 09/43 provides further details and can be viewed along with the minutes of the Board meeting held on 29 April on HSE's internet site, please see:

4. HSE held an exploratory stakeholder workshop in London on 14 July 2009 to discuss options/ideas for delivery. Initiatives under consideration by HSE include part -funded health & safety representative training that includes "softer skills" content, plus a new joint-training course for health and safety representatives and first line managers.

5. The aim of the workshop was to seek views and ideas from  organisations on:

Summary note of workshop

6. At the workshop, HSE's Worker Involvement and Inclusion Team provided a presentation regarding HSE's current thinking on this topic.

Please see below for a copy of the slides from this presentation, along with a copy of the agenda for the day:

7. Hannah Jameson from the Independent Participation Association (IPA) gave a presentation entitled "Using soft skills to improve worker involvement in health and safety (research report RR580)"

8. The basis of this presentation was IPA's 2007 research report (RR580) for HSE, please see: Using soft people skills to improve worker involvement in health and safety

The following Annexes provide a summary of the key points from the syndicate exercises and questions and answers following discussions. Please see:

11. In addition, a full list of attendees can be found at Annex C.

Annex A - Summary of Syndicate Discussions from Worker Involvement Workshop Hesperia Hotel 14 July 2009.

Syndicate 1

1. The group was split into two syndicates, and asked what are soft skills and how would you define them?

2. Answers to this question included:

Flexibility, Adaptability, Emotional Intelligence (E.I).

The ability to:

3. Hard skills and technical skills were the skills required to help get the job done, with soft skills seen as the people skills needed to help things run smoothly.

Syndicate 2

4. Groups were then asked, "What do organisations see as key soft skills for H&S reps to carry out their duties effectively?"

5. Answers to the question were presented as a list of skills as follows:

Soft: Communication, Listening, Clarity, Managing expectations, Influence, Persuade, Negotiate, Flexibility, Adaptability, Integrity, Trust, Honesty, Discretion, Assertiveness, Commitment, Enthusiasm and belief in principles, Willingness, Conflict resolution, Respect, Reliability, Empathy, Open mindedness, Impartiality, Tenacity, Cool, calm and considered, Pragmatism, Confidentiality, Analytical & Evaluation skills

Hard: Technical competence, Investigation Skills,

Firm: Organisational Skills, Planning skills, Systematic & Professional approach, Recognising other perspectives

6. The groups were then asked, "Does this differ when considering other sectors, or does one size fit all?" and "Could soft skills be delivered generically across all four sectors?" The consensus was that specific legislation will apply in certain occupational areas, but it was viewed that there was a rough 80/20% split in favour of generic soft skills, and in the main they could be delivered generically across all four sectors.

8. The groups then considered what the potential barriers to successful delivery of soft skills training might be. A list of the potential barriers included:

10. The groups then considered the question "Do health and safety representatives need to have certain pre-requisite skills or can this be addressed through training?" This question divided opinion, but in general, it was felt some pre-requisites may be required but you can engender most through training and support.

12. In terms of accreditation and audit standards, it was suggested that use of existing methods, such as assessment models (e.g. CIPD), having a clear set of rules about performance standards and use of continuous assessment to review quality of delivery would be sufficient.

Syndicate 3

13. The groups were asked for their views and ideas on how to deliver training (including soft skills content) to the target audience.

14. Answers to this question included various methods and techniques that may assist delivery, summarised as follows:

15. In terms of timings/impact on resources for delivery of the training, the groups felt interventions need to be realistic in terms of what can be covered within the agreed timescales. Whilst self reflection and review are effective in delivery via ongoing modules, businesses my have difficulty in releasing staff to attend on a longer term basis

Annex B - Questions

Q1. What are the timescales for the project delivery?

A: Initiatives are to be delivered over the next two financial years (2009/10 and 10/11). The current timescales for the tendering exercise are as follows;

Q2. Research in Scotland has shown that SME's are doing this well. Is it worth investigation to establish why this is so?

A: Yes, particularly around the generation of engaging case studies on worker involvement in order to promote the concept to businesses. The work in Scotland sounds good, and if the result is more case studies then that would be ideal.

Q3. Using the "Effective Involvement Model"  of Worker Involvement (see HSE presentation slides), how do organisations manage to climb the ladder and improve levels of worker involvement, are there any ways to "short circuit" the process and help them to get up to speed much quicker?

A: The model enables organisations to realise where they are on the continuum from dependent workers to inter-dependent relationships. It can be used to benchmark organisations, and then track them over a period of time. HSE are considering ways to use this model to measure progress to help evaluate interventions.

Q4. Will the soft skills element be assessed or certificated at the end of the programme? What will the measure of success be?

A: We are looking at accreditation, but its difficult to get accreditation for the course content itself. It is likely that the training providers delivering the course would be accredited themselves to ensure consistency in delivery of the content. RoSPA added that as soft skills are relevant across all businesses and workplaces; work may have been done in this area, for example by CIPD.

Q5. What does HSE mean by "part- funded" training?

A: The training will be heavily subsidised by HSE. The aim will be to charge a nominal fee in order to secure commitment to attendance, but also to keep costs to the employer to a minimum in order to gain buy in to the project. Ideally, we would like market forces to dictate the costs.

Q6. Will there be any type of needs analysis undertaken in order to target appropriate audience for the course?

A: Although we do not want to put up barriers to prevent people and organisations applying for the courses, there will be some eligibility criteria. We aim to focus primarily on those workplaces that employ between 20-400 workers and are non-unionised.

Q7. RoSPA stated that procurement processes can be used to encourage greater levels of worker involvement, what was HSE's view?

A: HSE described the approach that is to be taken for the construction pilot where the supply chain is used to promote and gain commitment worker involvement. This may be a persuasive way of making an expectation that worker involvement is a necessity in health and safety management.

Q8. What was the driver for creating a different approach to Worker Involvement in organisations? I.e. Business idea, passion to implement?

A: Following the evaluation of the Workplace Safety Adviser project, there was recognition to learn lessons and develop innovative ways of improving worker involvement in an effective and more efficient manner.

Annex C - Delegate List for Worker Involvement Workshop - 14th July 2009.