The Great British Bake Off

Over here in the UK, we love a bit of The Great British Bake Off. For our friends in Europe and the US, the concept might sound a little bit dull – 12 contestants compete to become the best amateur baker in the UK, undertaking baking challenges, with one eliminated each week. However, watching someone’s gingerbread house collapse or seeing their soufflé fail to rise is surprisingly tense and exciting.

This week saw the competition move onto bread week, where unsurprisingly the contestants had to make various loaves of bread. Obviously there are lots of kitchen health and safety issues we could touch on, but the overwhelming metaphor in my EHS brain was about how developing a safety culture within an organisation is very much like the process of making bread. How so? Knead on! (Read on….)

Kneading

Is the process of mashing all your ingredients together to make a dough for your bread. All these ingredients need to come together, or your bread will be lacking that cohesion it needs. If your organization doesn’t have a safety culture, everyone needs to work as a team to make it a reality – from management down: bread cannot rise without yeast, safety culture cannot work without leadership from the top. To do this, the metrics by which success is defined need to be decided: be it accident rates, near misses etc., and by what timescales. Finding the right ingredients for your metric is important, something you can decide as a whole company. It’s a bit harder for baking, where the ingredients are set in the recipe:  fortunately you’re in control here and can decide what’s going to work for your own batch. But perhaps most crucially, your attitude and actions are the driving factors – the dough, if you like – that everything is going to rely on. Who’s ever enjoyed bread without dough? The recipe for success:

500g of worker research
400g of scoping out your existing systems
20ml of building up relationships
600g of leadership
(Measurements are approximate)

Once you have your plan, your metrics and your attitude (A.K.A./the ingredients are kneaded together), its onto stage 2.

Proving

This stage is where the yeast is left to settle and the bread rises up as the yeast and air take effect. The easiest way to fuel rise of your safety culture is by ensuring it is carried out on a daily basis, consistently, by all. For example, anonymous reporting of incidents means that management are in the same boat as those on the shop floor. Building an atmosphere of trust is paramount, too – often workers will avoid reporting incidents due to fear of retribution, which something like a positive intervention initiative can help with (alongside, obviously, praise of reporting).

Of course, celebrating success is also important – if your company cuts incidents by 10%, share it with all staff. In fact, recent research found that productivity improved most when workers were incentivised by compliments. In second place was pizza… yes, humans really are that easily pleased. The last element is accountability – setting up responsibilities and roles for people within the organization, be it reporting or pushing the culture. The proof is in the pudding (or the bread in this instance). Once you have your roles/responsibilities, and each player has risen to the task of these roles, it’s onto the final stage:

Baking

Baking breadThe bread has risen, and now it’s time to bake it to perfection. You’ve set the temperature, pre-heated the oven and selected the desired setting. Now it’s time to let the elements of your plan get to work.

Of course, the temperature (tools) may need adjusted and you’ll need to keep peering through to make sure all is well, but you’ve given your workers the factors they need (the dough, the yeast, the oven and the heat (wait, did you have a permit?)) The best advice we can give now is report, report, report: only by reporting incidents and near misses (and emphasising the importance of logging them) can you know what’s going on and make decisions appropriately. Without the information you need I suppose it’s a bit like the technical challenge in Bake Off, where contestants have little instruction and often have no idea what they are making. And it usually turns out bad. Is your system fit for purpose? If not, you can rebuild it. Similarly, if your loaf is burnt (maybe it has been created without leadership or the temperature was set too high) and not fit for consumption, chuck it in the trash (or nip down the supermarket and buy a pre-made one).

From the ingredients to the height at which you place the oven tray, each step contributes to the finished product – every factor, every one is important. Unlucky for us, safety is never finished and it doesn’t taste so good with Nutella.

Of course, being safe is important, much more important than your dough being cooked all the way through. If you feel like your business would loaf to have a look at our software, contact us and we will be happy to arrange a demo, or alternatively look at one of our on-demand demos here.

Now excuse me, I am off to have a slice of toast...

Steve has over 4 years experience in marketing and e-commerce and joined Pro-Sapien in 2015. With a particular passion for injecting a bit of fun into EHS, Steve is responsible for content creation (your favorites are probably of his authoring!) and keeping the company up to date on developments within the EHS professional sphere.