Occupational Safety and Health and Safety Management
It has been suggested that any well designed safety program or system is only as effective as the day-to-day ability of everyone in the organisation to rigorously follow procedures correctly and safely every time This paper seeks to highlight the critical components of an OHSMS and demonstrate also how a well-designed OHSMS will address the day-to-day abilities of organisations personnel to follow safety procedures every day. Modern employments factors such as transient work forces and cultural diversity have been shown to impact on the abilities of a workforce to comply with procedures.
This paper will address these issues and demonstrate how effective OHSMS will assist in identifying lapses in compliance. Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, for example those constructed in line with AS/NZS4804:2001 – Occupational health and safety management systems, utilise a continual improvement model. At every level through planning, implementation, monitor and review, processes are in place to ensure that deficiencies in the ability to comply with procedures are identified and changes applied where necessary. Operational discipline is evident in organisations with a positive safety culture.
Occupational Safety and Health and Safety Management Essay Example
It will be discussed how process safety may be enhanced by effectively introducing a program of operational discipline. Operational Discipline The ability of personnel to follow procedures and complete tasks correctly each time they carry them out describes what is commonly known as operational discipline. Operational discipline has been defined by DuPont, regarded globally as a leader in behavioral safety systems, as “the deeply rooted dedication and commitment of each member of the organisation to carry out each task the right way each time.
” (Hopkins, 2009, p. 135) Operational discipline differs from legislative requirements and prescribed duties of care laid down in the OSH Act and Regulations, which may be defined as the obligation to carry out assigned duties. (Taylor, Easter, & Hegney, 2003). Instead, workers are challenged to make professional commitments such as: •I take personal responsibility for properly understanding my job task and making sure it can be completed safely every time. •I plan to follow procedures carefully without shortcuts.
•I trust that procedures have been developed for a purpose, but suggest changes if they don’t make sense. •I focus on the task at hand and set aside personal and work distractions. •I care for my safety and the safety of my co-workers (Klien, 2007) Many high reliability organisations have opted to roll out occupational health and safety managements systems in various forms, for example, Chevrons Operational Excellence Management System (OEMS) and Exxonmobil’s Operations Integrity Management System (OIMS).
Both global organisations place a key emphasis on operational discipline as a part of the way that they expect personnel at all levels of the business to conduct their assigned tasks. Chevron states in the overview of its OHSMS: Operational discipline—”completing every task the right way, every time”—captures the spirit of Chevron’s OE culture. It requires dedication from the entire workforce and specific behaviours from leadership. Leaders set clear expectations and monitor and shape behaviours.
By following procedures, recognizing hazards, providing feedback and stopping work as necessary, workers help prevent incidents. (Watson, 2010) These organisations are acutely aware that the best systems that they can produce are worthless if the personnel acting them out on behalf of the organisation take shortcuts, or willingly deviate from the expected practice laid down in the procedures. It is vital that organisations shrink the gap between the rules and reality, making them applicable in practice and clear to everyone.
(Anonymous, 2013 p. 49) Operational discipline exists in varying levels within a culture of an organisation, however as discussed by Stallbaum (2013) “A robust management system alone will not lead to operational excellence; a culture of operational discipline drives the understanding of, adherence to, questioning of and enforcement of the OEMS is integral to achieving Operational Excellence. ” Once effective systems have been implemented for ensuring safe activities at
a site, a focus on operational discipline is essential for ensuring that systems are followed and for achieving good performance. (Klien & Francisco, 2012 p. 101) Current employment trends in Australia The mining and construction boom of the past decade has highlighted a skills shortage in many industries in Australia. Surveys completed in 2012 indicate that 62 percent of respondents claimed to be experiencing a skills shortage of some kind. The mining sector continues to face significant shortages with two thirds of mining companies reporting problems.
Shortages are concentrated in Western Australia followed by Queensland and New South Wales. (Waller, 2012) To remedy the lack of skilled workers in various industries across Australia, the temporary skilled worker (457) visa system allows employees to bring workers from different countries into Australia to assist with short-term projects. An increase in the numbers of foreign workers can introduce challenges for industries in the form of language and cultural barriers.
In addition to the increase in foreign workers, part time and casual employment rates in Australia are both presently at historic highs for varying reasons; Data gathered from the Department of education, employment and workplace relations states that presently almost 1/3rd of workers in Australia is part time. (Anonymous, 2013) Part time employment represents a challenge to employers in so far as the financial outlay in training can have a limited return for transient employees.
Organisation without a strong safety culture may find it difficult to satisfy their legislatively mandated requirements to provide training for workers they believe to be short term. Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems Organisations may introduce on Occupational Health and Safety Management system (OHSMS) for a variety of reasons, including: •Legal reasons •Ethical concerns •Industrial relations •To improve financial performance Implementation of an effective OSHMS should, however, primarily lead to a reduction of workplace injury and illness, minimising the costs of workplace accidents.
(Standards Australia, 2001) There are five (5) driving principles that an OHSMS devised in line with Australian Standard 4804 – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, 2001, which are: •Policy; •Planning; •Implementation; •Measure and evaluation; and •Management review. Fig 1. Continual Improvement (Standards Australia, 2001) The framework for managing risk is based upon a ‘Plan – do – check – act’ cycle. This cycle, often referred to as the Deming cycle is a problem solving process adopted by firms engaged in continuous improvement (Bhat, 2010, p. 276).
If effectively planned and implemented, each stage of the OHSMS is capable of addressing the requirement for employees to do the right thing every time a task is undertaken. Policy The OHS policy is the commitment statement from management, which outlines the health and safety goals and targets of the organisation. The OHS policy outlines the expectation of all personnel within an organisation and is “continually reiterated by the things that management pays attention to and measure. The rest of the management system is developed as a means to achieve the goals set out in the policy.
” (Boyrs, Cowley, Tepe, Morrell and Macdonald, 2013) The policy may include a clear indication from management to the workforce that there is an expectation to comply with processes and procedures to achieve the desired outcomes of the organisation. Planning Organisations with an effective OHSMS will have in place a system for identifying and controlling risks, identifying legal requirements, setting targets and objectives and OHS Management Plans. “Safety management systems are a structured approach for achieving a desired performance. Planning affects every aspect of achieving and executing safety management in any organisation.
” (Anonymous, 2001). Dunn (2012) states that “The creation and use of a plan is a key to the successful implementation of an [HSMS]. ” (p. 75). In setting targets and objectives, a company describes how it will judge its safety and health performance. Determining leading and lagging indicators within operating parameters will assist in measuring compliance with procedures going forward. Leading indicators such as task observations and leadership walk and talk sessions provide valuable feedback to management of the abilities of the workforce to sufficiently follow procedures.
This of course is dependent on the ability of the organisation to develop workable procedures during the start up phase of the job, taking into consideration the identified hazards, risks and controls for the scope of work. “Establishing a performance measurement system is a process aimed at changing behavior, and ultimately culture. It is a process of continuous improvement. ” (Harrington, Thomas, & Kadri, 2009) Other factors that must be taken into consideration during the planning stage of the safety management system are creating an effective system for
identifying risks. This is reinforced by Standards Australia (2001) which states “The organization shall develop its methodology for hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control, based on its operational experience and its commitment to eliminate workplace illness and injury. The methodology shall be kept up to-date. ” (p. 9) Legal compliance must be considered when planning the OHSMS. Health and safety procedures shall be generated to bring the activities of the organisation in line with legislative requirement.
“Legislative health and safety regulations represent minimum requirements. In almost all cases it is necessary for the organisations to augment these regulations with specific procedure which must be followed in order to manage employee well being effectively. ” (Taylor, Easter, & Hegney, 2003). Procedures should be generated in consultation with the front line workers as this will empower them to ‘own’ the process, making compliance easier. “(Organisations) should communicate relevant information on legal and other requirements to employees. ” (Standards Australia, 2001).
Employees will find it easier to follow procedures every time if they know that doing so will ensure compliance with legal requirements and that the procedures don’t exist for the sake of having them. ? Implementation The best occupational health and safety management plans will not work without an effective implementation strategy. It is imperative that appropriate levels of resources are available to implement the OHSMS. “ While there are always competing demands upon your limited resources, it’s important to recognize that your employees’ health and safety cannot be compromised.
” (Standards Australia, 2001) When implementing an OHSMS into a working environment with a highly transient and multicultural workforce, it is vital that the OHSMS can be understood by everyone. Potential exists for all of the hard work spent creating an effective OHSMS to be lost if it has not been rolled out to the workforce effectively. Procedures shall be developed for providing OHS training. These procedures shall take into account— (a) The characteristics and composition of the workforce which impact on occupational health and safety management; and (b) Responsibilities, hazards and risks.
The organization shall ensure that all personnel (including contractors and visitors) have undertaken training appropriate to the identified needs. Training shall be carried out by persons with appropriate knowledge, skills, and experience in OHS and training. (Standards Australia, 2001) The terms composition and characteristics clearly outline the requirement for the OHS training to be created to a level that the workforce, regardless of background, will be able to learn from the training and effectively put the learning outcomes into practice.
Consultation and communication To determine that the safety management system is functioning effectively, organisations need to ensure that there are effective mechanisms in place to allow occupational health and safety information is communicated to all stakeholders. (Standards Australia, 2001). The opinions of employees at all levels should be heard and feedback provided to ensure that there is a sense of ownership for the safety processes and procedures within the OHSMS (Pardy & Andrews, 2010)
Tools such as toolbox meetings, management walk and talk sessions and procedure awareness sessions may be used to take questions and provide feedback to the workforce and determine if there are barriers which prevent the workforce from following procedures. Measure and evaluation As part of the previously discussed Deming Cycle, checks must be undertaken to determine that the OHSMS is achieving what it set out to do. For example, if knowledge gaps are appearing due to difficulties in understanding the training, systems or procedures, it is vital that they are identified so that they can be rectified.
“Organisations should measure, monitor and evaluate its OHS performance and take preventative action” (Standards Australia, 2001). Measurement of performance in this context may be undertaken by auditing, feedback forms from employees and assessments on whether previously identified concerns had been rectified. (Pardy & Andrews, 2010, p. 45) Management review Any gaps between what is hoped will be achieved through the OHSMS and the actual measured outcome need to be closed. It is arguable, the single-most important element of any management system.
Through the management review process, committed leaders acting upon factual information from the management systems make informed decisions and identify the resources required to enable the organisation to effectively, safely and without damage to the environment. “ (Pardy & Andrews, 2010, p. 30) It is during the management review that any deficiencies in the entire OSHMS can be rectified. In this way, the plan, do, check, act nature of the process facilitates continual improvement. Conclusion
One of the key drivers to success of an OHSMS is the ability of employees at all levels to carry out tasks correctly and in accordance with procedures every time. Many organisations refer to the ability of employees do the right thing every time as operational discipline, which is a conscious effort of all personnel to follow procedures every time. Australia is presently experiencing workforce trends that it has not encountered in present day levels. The level of foreign workers through schemes such as the 457 visa, and also a high number of short term, part time and casual workers create working environments that employers need to
monitor to ensure that the OHSMS in place is effective. Organisations should effectively define for what they require from their OHSMS in the OHS policy and then implement the OHSMS effectively to ensure that the workforce are aware of the requirements of management for employees to follow procedures at all times. By monitoring the plan and ensuring that any deficiencies discovered are acted upon, the management of an organisation will be able to determine that the any knowledge gaps caused by either the composition of the workers or ineffective training can be rectified.
OHSMS’s developed in line with Australian Standard 4804 – Occupational health and safety management systems, will be able to plan for modern employment trends and the cultural composition of the workforce by ensuring that the system is well planned, is understood by stakeholders, that it has mechanisms in place to ensure ongoing compliance and also the ability to change when shortcomings are identified.