Workforce Involvement (WFI) is generally used to describe the ways in which workers, including contractors, are encouraged to take part in the decision making process about managing health and safety at work.

According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): “involving workers in health and safety leads to healthier and safer workplaces and produces a range of benefits for workers and managers”.

This declaration is based on research findings and is a view shared by many people across high hazard industry. This is because it makes sense to involve workers more in health and safety because they have direct experience of unsafe conditions and how it affects their job. They also have good ideas of how safety might be improved.

Workforce Involvement (WFI) can be complex and it can be surprisingly difficult to engage with workers and get effective involvement in health and safety. There are also often sensitive issues surrounding workforce involvement that need to be understood and handled carefully. Management, in particular, must be prepared to adapt their behaviour and working methods accordingly if they want to encourage more WFI.

Trying to improve WFI without a clearly thought out approach or without acting on information provided by workers can actually makes things worse rather than better. This is because if WFI is not seen as effective and does not lead to change then workers may become more reluctant to participate in future initiatives.

Greenstreet Berman carried out work on behalf of the Energy Institute to develop guidance on WFI. The guide details the issues surrounding workforce involvement and describes a three step approach to its implementation and is supported by case studies and assessment exercises.

More information can be found on the Energy Institute website by clicking here.