Last Wednesday was the Hastam safety culture benchmarking workshop, Front Line Safety Leaders: How can they help or hinder progress with safety culture maturity? This was done in collaboration with the Loughborough University School of Business and Economics and is part of Hastam’s Safety Culture Benchmarking Partnership.

We had a good range of speakers which included Hastam consultants and business practitioners. The objective of the workshop was to explore the subject of Front Line Safety Leaders and the impact they can have on the safety culture of an organisation. This was done through a series of presentations, use of case studies and breakout sessions to discuss the practical application of what had been learnt.

The day opened with an introduction from Steve Highley who set the scene and clarified what a Front Line Safety is / is not.

Professor Booth followed addressing the subject of ‘learning from failure’, firstly talking about role early in his career as a part time safety advisor.  He followed up with a case study of the Croydon tram crash, specifically looking at Front Line Managers and their involvement in the success or failure of communication and the impact this can have on safety.

Andy Gordon, with his experience of leading within the manufacturing industry, continued with a session looking at a project he ran within the construction industry, which focused on developing the soft skills of Front Line Managers and more senior levels of management within the company.  He was able to show how this changed not just the safety culture but also impacted on other areas of the business such as operations.

Angeline McAvenna from Diageo spoke on ‘Good to Great’ looking at Diageo’s unique approach to developing the soft skills of their Front Line Managers and all levels of management.  Again, the impact of this on the culture of the organisation has been much wider that safety.

Clint Devine, who was formally an Engineering Team Leader for Shell, entitled his case study ‘Accelerated Learning and Front Line Safety Leaders’.  His proactive approach to developing Front Line Managers includes putting the onus on current managers to develop potential candidates for the FLM role prior to them applying for a position by providing them with numerous learning opportunities and relevant experience.

Steve Highley followed this with a short summary of research that has been carried out around the topic of developing Front Line Safety Leaders.  The conclusion was that there is still work to be done on this topic if industry is to benefit.

The afternoon was spent working in groups discussing the following questions and presenting back their findings:

  • What support do H&S Advisor/Mangers need to provide to Front Line Safety Leaders?
  • What can senior leaders do to accelerate Front Line Safety Leaders development?
  • If workers need daily conversation about safety, how often should managers talk with Front Line Managers/FLM about safety? What support and guidance do managers need to do this well?
  • How can we show Front Line Safety Leaders that we value what they do?

This was an opportunity for attendees to learn about what other companies were doing on this topic and to discuss how each of them may be able to introduce further improvements on their return to business as usual.

When asked, attendees were quick to say what a success the day had been.  Lots of food for thought and practical application to take back to the workplace.  Two of the partners had the following to say:

“Interesting and useful day with some excellent pointers on front line staff” – Duncan Thomas, CWGC

“Sessions of a high standard, some real nuggets in the presentations for take away use” – Mace Tallack, Anglian Water

Are you interested in attending a workshop to see how you could benefit?

How it works: You can attend once as a guest for £199 per person and you can purchase up to two places per company. This allows you to experience the workshop element of the partnership and see if you find it helpful.  After attending as a guest, you need to decide if you want to sign up or not.

Signing up: The partnership includes two places per event and there are two events each year.  It is up to you how you make use of the places at the events.  You can send the same two people each time or you can send different members of the safety team or send senior management with a role in safety.

Once you are a partner you can also take part in consultancy / research related to the workshop topic and get access to the learning points and results.  For each event / topic we will either do a benchmarking survey around the agreed topic and share the results among partners or we will choose two partner companies and do a short, clearly defined, piece of consultancy and the results of this work will be shared with all other partners.  The cost of the consultancy is included in the £1500 annual membership fee as everyone benefits from the results, even if they don’t take part in the consultancy.


If you require any more information please feel free to call 01509 410380 or email

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