The five key focal points for workplace safety excellence

21 May 2021 5 min. read

Achieving health and safety excellence is critical for every organisation – but doing so can be easier said than done. DuPont Sustainable Solutions interviewed 15 senior female health and safety leaders, and found that while there is no magic formula, there are a clear set of best practices that can pave the way for safer workplaces.

With around 1,000 professionals in 40 countries, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) is a trusted advisor in operations consulting services. Specialising in environment, health and safety (EHS) work – a methodology that studies and implements practical aspects of protection of environment, health and safety at occupation – DSS has been named the top consulting brand for environment, health and safety by Verdantix for four years in a row.

Now, a new report from the consultancy has revealed the secrets of health and safety excellence. Sadly, the researchers insist that there is “no magic formula” to provide this, as effective health and safety programmes “require inputs from a whole range of skillsets, from technical knowledge, analytical skills to listening, being flexible, and gathering people around the table to achieve the best safety solutions and outcomes.”

The five key focal points for workplace safety excellence

Based on in-depth interviews with senior female leaders in EHS globally, DSS’ experts have distilled five key elements which are deemed crucial to successfully transforming a company’s health and safety performance: leadership, agility, culture, technology and people.


As with any transformation, senior management buy-in is crucial for major organisational changes. It is key from a budget and decision-making perspective and from a change championship perspective. If the leadership team take a proactive role in a transformation, they can also manage expectations about the transformation and share the organisation’s priorities as a first step.

According to the researchers, the importance of walking the talk cannot be overstated. Setting the tone and communicating positively can help provide the required foundations for safety success, so leaders should become visibly involved, while making communication positive by focusing on good safety actions that inspire others to follow. The opportunity for a smooth transition process and thus buy-in from the rest of the organisation can be lost without this.


Agile is a way of working that puts speed and autonomy at its core, advocating a process characterised by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans. Agility in an organisation can help find and promote new, safer ways of working, with cross-functional teams that pool specific types of expertise.

Identifying and planning for emerging risks, and developing a “one team” approach can be a much-needed boost for health and safety excellence, so DSS’ researchers encourage organisations to take “forward-looking and proactive steps that put health and safety ahead of the curve.” Involving others and seeking expertise to inject agility into operations can help develop the organisational flexibility needed to respond effectively and efficiently to emerging risks.


“A sustainable safety culture thrives in a positive environment,” the researchers state. In order to encourage the right culture that will push a firm toward health and safety excellence, education should always be one of an organisation’s primary focuses. It’s vital for every employee to understand why changes are happening within the business and what type of behaviours will be needed to make the changes effective – as without this basic transparency, it will prove impossible to get a company’s various teams behind any mission.

In this case, the researchers recommend an inclusive approach to raising safety awareness and achieving buy-in – including recognising good safety behaviours and honouring achievements which raise safety standards. DSS add that organisations would do well to focus on “long-term initiatives that strengthen the link between personal and workplace safety.”


While companies in the firm’s stronghold of Europe and the US believe they have “reached a plateau,” DSS CEO Davide Vassallo recently told that there is still room for many to “improve efficiency, digitise operations and transition to new ways of working.” This could even include finding ways to transform organisations through innovative behaviour-based technological solutions.

According to DSS’ report, smart technology can play a crucial role in training and digitalisation without neglecting the human factor. The researchers recommend that organisations should use smart tools to “reduce the risks associated with human interventions and gather data to measure and monitor health and safety programmes,” while also delivering virtual experiences and even gamified environments to help “visualise safety risks.”


As also stated by Vassallo, around 70% of DSS’ work relates to management systems, culture and people capabilities, and “without taking this into account, companies face the very real risk of failing to implement change, and missing out on their potential.” As such, a key part of DSS’ support for clients sees the consultancy look to “integrate people and change” into all its methodologies and work.

To make for the most comprehensive health and safety proficiency, beyond training organisations should look to encourage diversity and sustainability, broadening solutions with diverse talent. At the same time, they can highlight career prospects to inject new skill sets and knowledge to enhance the sustainability of the health and safety sector, or offer up role models such as HSE ambassador roles to promote awareness.