Category Archives: ISO45001

Safety Management in a Thriving Economy

The economy is on a rise again and companies are ramping up production. A lot of businesses are running a tight schedule and projects need to be completed as soon as possible. This environment is great for business but not necessarily for the safety perception. During these times it is crucial the safety officers keep safety as top priority at the workplace. To prevent safety becoming the victim of tight schedules, we have pointed out some topics to take into consideration.

Tightly Planned Project

As a safety officer, it is always good to have a close connection and understanding of the ongoing projects and their status. People are inclined to work as hard as possible to finish a project on time, even at the expensive of their own safety. The tight schedule can put so much pressure on people that they start to make a consensus on safety. Being present at the worksite helps to remind the employees of the importance of safety. You will personally be the trigger for them. Furthermore, it allows you to keep track of the safety culture and correct workers when they take irresponsible risks. Of course you cannot do this on your own, so make sure project managers and site managers are properly trained.

Continue Training

The tight planning reduces time for things like safety training and awareness programs. These techniques are crucial to maintaining a healthy safety culture. Make sure the training time isn’t reduced due to time constraints. Yes, top management will put the customer first, but ensure that it doesn’t happen at the expense of safety. It is crucial for the health of the workers but also the organization that people feel safe and secure while they do their job. Come up with measuring tools that show how important the training is. These can be safety culture perception or more hard figures like number incidents and their costs to handle them.

Reduce Barriers

Enable employees to easily file incidents and unsafe situations. It is crucial employees have the right tools to provide you with the necessary information to plan your actions. This information is a great input for things like:

  • Creating training plans.
  • Improving certain work instructions.
  • Planning specific toolbox meetings.

Positive Note

Due to the strong economic times a lot of companies have budgets available for topics like safety. Safety officers will notice it gets easier to get budget approvals. Make sure you leverage these great times wisely. In order to prove to top management that money was well spent, make sure you have proof. Show that the safety awareness went up, or that major incidents went down, or whatever metric you use. Just make sure you have data to back up the expenses. This will make approvals in the future a lot easier.

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CAPA Management and how to structure this

Corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) have been subject to changes the last years due to some modifications to several standards. These recent changes made a lot of companies choose to get rid of the preventive actions. Regardless of the changes, the struggles of managing these tasks is still present. There are still multiple actions pending per employee, regardless of the wording.

Origin of the Task

The different tasks can originate from a number of different sources. Activities like a management walk, incident, customer complaint or an audit. These tasks are then stored in Excel documents or similar, which leads to long lists of actions with different due dates and statuses. Tracking the origin of the task is not only crucial for analyzing the data, but also to track the progress. One incident can hold multiple tasks, these origins show exactly which tasks need to be done to finish the incident report.

Manage the Sheet

The Excel doc that holds all the tasks (CAPA) quickly holds hundreds of records. To organize the data, multiple tabs get introduced and more columns are added to allow better shifting of data. The concept behind this Excel document is that every employee checks his/her tasks in the document and changes the data when something has been done. This sounds great in theory, but it is not so good in practice.

Some things that happen to the file are:
● Employees don’t close the file and therefore “keep it occupied”.
● People start to add a bunch of fields to keep in the data or don’t know where to store it.
● Employees cannot find the document.

The list is pretty long, which is why this method breaks pretty quickly when you some employees. In order to solve this, companies make the Quality Manager responsible for managing the list. This method is undoable and requires a lot of time and effort.

Automate CAPA

Picking a proper solution for managing the tasks will give instant structure. The employees will not be able to change the sheet whenever they see fit. Everyone will get notified when tasks are due and they can access it from anywhere in the world. The integration with other parts of the management system makes it very easy to track why a certain task was started. This makes task management on certain incidents fairly easy because it is simple to filter which tasks are pending on the incident.

Tasks management is a crucial part of the improvement plan. Make sure you structure this properly in order to keep track of the improvement plan in the best way possible.

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The importance of Data in Safety Management

Most of you know the value of data in your safety management system. However, a lot of safety management systems mainly show the number of incidents or days without injuries. Yes, they are great for marketing and showing off how great the company is doing. These KPI’s don’t add much for the company though. In order to really start adding value to the company, it is important to analyze the data and find out where important trends are.

Gather the Data

Getting incident data can often be hard to accomplish. Employees don’t always have the right forms at their fingertips, and simply forget about it when they have. Lowering the barrier to file an incident helps a lot to gather sufficient data, even to perform some kind of analysis. Mobile Apps are the way to go when it comes to lowering the barriers to file an incident. The employee just needs to take a picture or short video of what happened and the important data is gathered. Then the safety team can start to work on the case.

Individual Cases

Not a single safety incident is the same. Some require just a couple of hours to resolve, while others might take months or even years, depending on the severity of the injury. Handling every single case thoroughly is pretty important. It is even more important to handle certain questions in a structured manner so it is easy to compare results and find trends. We discuss this more thoroughly in our post on NC reports.

Call for Help

During the investigation of the case, it is important to ask knowledgeable people to help you find the correct information. As the safety manager you won’t necessarily have all the information at your fingertips. Make sure you involve different people from different departments to ensure you find the right information. A nice example is the financial impact, the finance department has a much better insight in the costs of an employee per hour.

Also make sure you don’t do everything, assign certain tasks to responsible people. This way you keep them involved and you don’t have to take on everything–which isn’t feasible anyway. In order to stay in control of all the tasks it is useful to check for platforms to help you in this manner. They allow you to get great insight on how the different tasks progress.

Combine the Data

When all the data is filled in and you have closed a couple dozen cases, you can start to analyze the data. The analysis is crucial to finding common denominators on why certain incidents happen. Finding out why these incidents happened is vital in starting improvement plans. These trends might not be as sexy as the KPI numbers without injuries, but they do add a lot more value. Actually providing more training to employees when that is shown as lacking behind helps the company improve and therefore improves the complete company.

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Risk Management in ISO 45001

The new ISO 45001 has replaced the OHSAS 18001. Just like most other ISO standards, the ISO 45001 adopted the High Level Structure (HLS). This is a great step forward because it now allows for consistent management systems. A lot of companies have multiple certificates and with this newly adopted HLS it is much easier to integrate the different standards.

In previous posts we touched upon the importance of risk management in the HLS: Risk Management ISO9001:2015 , Handle risk management and Practical guide.  We even wrote an e-book about it. With the ISO 45001 the way of managing risks can be the same as with other standards, but the type of risks will be different. We will touch upon a couple of topics to take in consideration while identifying your risks.

Law

The most important aspects of the risks is the law. In many countries the laws are pretty clear when it comes to employees and everything surrounding it. This can be all kinds of laws from how to handle PPE to working hours or number of leave days. Not obeying the law will not only lead to fines but can also lead to a bad reputation and possible problems with unions. In order to make sure these risks are identified, just note down the laws and take appropriate action.

Work

The daily activities of certain people can inhabit serious risks. These might not always be clear on the outside but will reach the surface when you talk to people. The employees are a key source of information when it comes to identifying the risks involved in their day to day activities. It is always wise to plan a couple of hours with people in the field and identify the risks they face.

Company

Then there are the company wide risks and opportunities, more on a strategic level. These can be big macroeconomic challenges such as economic downturn or rapid economic growth, tight labor market or the rights of robots. All these topics and many more can have an impact on the risks and opportunities the company has to manage. Make sure you include these in the risk overview because they will be important to the organization.

Manage Risks

When the risks are identified it is important to start managing them. Some risks can be accepted due to the low impact or low likelihood, others can be transferred by for example getting insurance. However quite a few require a certain type of action on how to mitigate them. Make sure you assign responsible people to specific tasks. It is key to only make one person responsible for each task. This forces the person to take responsibility. Great automation solutions can help a lot in this case. Qooling users make use of the following flow to mitigate the risk.

Conclusion

In the end it is really important that the company has a good overview of all the risks involved, not just only for OH&S and how it can mitigate them. Make sure you have a good system in place on how to identify them. Also ensure you include the employees, as they are key in getting the right information.

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