When business owners look at how to improve their systems and processes the health and safety brigade come out in force! Every time a business improvement is suggested they say ‘you can’t do that’.
• You can’t reduce staff – it’s not safe.
• You can’t ‘shortcut’ that process – it’s dangerous.
• You can’t change things – people will make mistakes.
This was the problem that a lean consultant kept coming up against while he was streamlining the operational processes for his client. Every way he turned he came up against health and safety issues that put a block in his way.
I met this particular consultant at a networking meeting back in 2005. I didn’t realise that his search for a different kind of health and safety practitioner would produce a business model that has not only changed the face of health and safety, but also won us an award!
The consultant was struggling to deliver the results his client wanted. He needed a ‘can do’, not a ‘can’t do’ approach to health and safety and, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that’s what we deliver!
He couldn’t believe it when we never said ‘you can’t do that’. We did say ‘let’s find a safe way to do that’. It’s a more ‘grown up’ way of doing business.
Eventually we realised we had a concept – and it needed a name. Oddly, this came from a discussion with an HSE Inspector who was very interested in it. It had to be about profitability as, without profit, companies cannot continue to exist and the name PROPA was created; short for Profit through Positive Action. It was the PROPA way to do business.
It was never designed to be a health and safety tool; that came later. It was designed as a business improvement tool – to stop people preventing progress. However, when you match up risk management, including health and safety and business improvement methodologies you get a much more pragmatic approach to business. Traditionally business improvement is about doing things, whilst health and safety tends to be about prevention. PROPA puts the two together and, instead of cancelling each other out, it’s designed to enhance both.