Category Archives: QHSE 4.0

SHEQ Culture: From Push to Pull

We touched upon the SHEQ culture numerous times already, and we cannot stress the importance of it enough. Developing the right culture has a tremendous impact on how SHEQ is perceived within the company and how the company operates. This perception isn’t always good, but it can be switched around by using the right methodologies and solutions.

A great way to measure the perception is by identifying whether there is a Push and Pull approach from the SHEQ management point of view. Push basically means that the SHEQ department is pushing all day long to get employees moving. This is happening in a large number of companies and frustrates SHEQ managers a lot. They are the only force to move SHEQ activities forward. The Pull situation is where SHEQ is driven by the organization, the SHEQ department is primarily consultative and helping out when required. The SHEQ management is deeply integrated in the organization. This is the situation you want to reach eventually. To get to this, there are a couple of things that will help.

Keep It Simple

We all know the phrase, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, originally introduced by the US Navy. This design principle is not only applicable to complex engineering projects but has huge advantages for SHEQ management as well. A significant number of management systems are too complex to be easily understood by employees. They need to search for documents or forms on servers or within a DMS, without much guidance.

Moving to a dedicated platform for SHEQ will already makes things much clearer, employees know now they need to go to the platform to find the required documents. The easier the management is built up to, the more the Pull will come from the organization because employees can find what they need. The SHEQ department doesn’t have to send the documents again and again and also doesn’t have to send reminders all the time.

Ease of Use

In order to further allow the organization to Pull the SHEQ management, it has to be very easy for employees to integrate with the SHEQ management system and incorporate it into their day-to-day work. When SHEQ activities don’t feel like a necessary evil, they will put a lot more effort without really realizing it. The activities are going so seamlessly while they provide significant information to the SHEQ department of improvement projects.

Within this situation, employees will come to the SHEQ department to get access to the tools required. When this point is reached, the SHEQ department will have a completely different role in the organization. The SHEQ activities should be incorporated into the day-to-day work to really reach this next level, but this can be done.

Providing the right tools to work with for the employees will make this a lot easier. Readily available information via a mobile app becomes a necessity for people to easily interact with the SHEQ management system. Make sure these things are in place for people to leverage.

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Transparency in QHSE Management

Transparency has a pretty broad spectrum and can mean different things to different people. Not necessarily the meaning of the word transparency, but more the level of transparency and when you are considered transparent and when not. Of course, certain information is on a “need to know” basis within an organization, and not everybody needs to know everything, not even the CEO. However, we do believe that having pretty high transparency will help an organization move forward and give a solid basis for continuous improvement.

We Do It Together

Continuous improvement is something the organization that needs as many people as possible to help with. This doesn’t mean that everybody needs to work on this all the time, but the input from every employee is valuable; hence, we need everybody. The people in the quality department or in the continuous improvement team can help with these topics. When it comes to continuous improvement, all information should be available to everyone so they can learn from each other and easily see what the organization tries to improve. This doesn’t mean it will succeed all the time but it is trying and showing the efforts the organization takes will increase the support from the employees. It also clearly shows a message that trying is good and with it comes the acceptance of failure. Sharing these experiences makes people feel more comfortable and at ease.

The Feedback

Feedback is a great way to engage the employees in the efforts. Showing what the organization does and how it is done will give people an insight in why choices are made. No, you don’t need to open all the notes of every meeting if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, but it is important to just share the key inputs and outputs. Also, an explanation of the reasoning why certain decisions are made will help a lot. It isn’t required to have formal meetings for this. The information can be documented in a platform and people can be updated automatically. However, the results with a big impact should be communicated properly and celebrated. This can be done with in person meetings or, in the light of COVID-19, via any preferred video conferencing tool.

Level of Transparency

The cutoff line of which information should or shouldn’t be open can be quite a tricky one. Some companies are completely transparent and even show the salaries of every employee on a wall, while at other places, almost all information is protected. Setting the levels of information access should always be in line with the company policy and culture. However, we do believe that an organization should be a little more open than what it is comfortable with. Just trust the employees and let them find the information. This isn’t always easy but will help a lot in the future and with slowly changing the culture for the better.

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Working from home Ergonomically

Most of us have been working from home for several weeks now. While working from home a couple of days here and there is fine for most of us, we now run into an odd situation that we really need to think about having a proper workplace while working from home. Still, a number of people are working either on the kitchen table or on some sort of desk. While this is the case, most companies have strict policies when it comes to deskwork, especially on the ergonomics aspects of the job. We need adjustable tables, adjustable chairs and adjustable screens. This all to make the job less demanding for the body. However, while working from home, we don’t always have all these tools at our disposal for working ergonomically.

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Correct sitting at desk posture ergonomics: office worker using a computer and improving his posture

The Table

Most of us are working either on the kitchen table or on a non-adjustable desk. We can debate about why we should work on these types of tables, but most people don’t have room to create a proper home office. However, when you work from home, try to find a way to adjust the height of the table. You can put some wood or books underneath the table legs to change the height of the table. Again, it’s not ideal, but we need to work with what we have.

The Chair

This one is much trickier, especially when the chair is non-adjustable. At least find a position, which relaxes the body somehow. Also try to use a pillow to support your back when you sit in the chair. Unlike the table, it is much easier to buy an adjustable chair. They don’t take up lots of space and will help a lot to sit comfortably and prevent back pains.

The Monitor

The height of your screen is important to prevent neck pain. Looking straight at your screen makes sure you have a good position for your neck. You can either buy an adjustable screen or simply use a book to levitate the screen. Try to come as close as possible to the configuration above.

The Accessories

This is probably the most neglected part of working from home. Most people work on a laptop and simply use the trackpad and keyboard that comes with the laptop. A separate mouse and keyboard allows much more degrees of freedom, because you can configure it yourself. The keyboard and trackpad are fine for working an hour or so, but not to work on them hours on end.

Also a lot of people are used to working with a second screen. Just use your old laptop or an old desktop screen to work with a double screen or maybe buy a new one. Because this working from home could take a while and maybe you like it so much, that in the future you work one or two days at home instead of in the office. Some of our employees are more productive back at home, because there are no distractions from colleagues. Just think about it, how is working from home working for you?

In the end it is important to have a proper workplace at home, which gives the least possible physical problems. We need our body for the rest of our lives, so just make sure you treat it accordingly.

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Working from home as a Safety Manager

This pandemic of course has a big impact on your job as a safety officer. Normally, you are mainly outside or in the production plant to check up on the safety culture in the company. It is important to be among the people in the company and observe their safety awareness. These observations are crucial to improve the safety culture of the organization. Over the last week, this has reduced significantly but the workload probably spiked the first week. Now, you need to find a way to maintain the safety of the workers somehow remotely.

First Line Action

The COVID19 most likely created a big spike in the workload the first couple of weeks. Policies were probably not in place for these circumstances and therefore needed to be created in record time. Most companies have never considered this scenario and this being a health-oriented “Black Swan” risk, you as the safety manager were involved heavily. All procedures and policies need to be in place to make sure people have guidance in these times. Also, the work instructions need to be updated and added to comply with new laws and regulations.

Working From Home

The new norm forces most people to work from home. Of course, you can probably be on site every now and then, but the feeling with the employees in production reduces due to the distance. Despite you not being there, the safety risks didn’t reduce, they might even become bigger due to changes in the way people work. Working with less people on the same square meter can increase the safety risks. On the other hand, from home you can upgrade work instructions, procedures, processes and policies. The lack of colleagues will reduce the number of distractions and allows for better focus, of course, only if you don’t have small children.

Delegate

Being able to delegate some of the safety activities is key in this because you cannot be on site. The right technology can help a lot here. The shift manager or other team leaders can do the necessary safety walks, which gives you important information to check on the safety culture. When people on site perform these checks, you get at least an idea about what is going on. Yes, you will be missing some key parts, but together with the couple of days you are on site you should be able to have some sort of feeling.

Training

One other great thing you can do in this period is creating a great training session. Using the right platform, you can send the training session to the employees to make sure that safety stays on top of their mind. This also allows you to utilize the information from the safety checks and incorporate that information directly into such a training. Besides the awareness training, you can always simply upgrade to new employee training sessions or the general safety training.

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Why Training Your Staff Is Important

Over the last couple of weeks, we spoke with several consultants based all around the world. One of the things that almost all of the consultants mentioned is that training your staff is very important. It is not only important for improving your business but there are many more reasons why you should train your employees.

Motivation

There were a lot of debates during the interviews over why training is so important. We merged it into four. The first one is to motivate the staff. Motivation not only comes with salary or fringe benefits. Training or education can also help to motivate the employees. They have more challenges in their work and they also learn new things.

Engagement

The next one is that training helps everyone to better understand how everything works in the organization, and this will lead to more employee engagement. When the staff understand how everything goes, the management or the board will involve the staff more within the company. This will ensure that the staff are more involved in everything that occurs within the company, and that will lead to a better culture.

Teamwork

Not only will training lead to a better understanding of your staff or a better culture, but it also will lead to improved teamwork. Employees will get to know each other on another level during a training session, compared to working on the floor together. The training is the connecting factor between all the employees from one department. They do the training together, which will lead to a common thing that they did together. Also, they can put the lessons from the training into practice together. This will improve the cohesion within the team.

Incorporating into the Daily Activities

And the most important one are the things the staff learn during the training, that they can incorporate into the daily activities. This will lead to more productivity and to a better culture even if the main goal of the training was some kind of team building. Your employees will be happier and more motivated to go to work. That’s why training your staff is so important.

Current Day

Training sessions are great ways to motivate people and increase employee engagement. However, the pandemic of course changes the way we can train our employees. The human touch will be gone for quite some weeks, so we need to find different ways. This is why Qooling now has a great e-learning module which you can try out for free.

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Remote Auditing, How to Set It Up

After last week the world looks quite different. People in most countries are working from home, which means that audits need to adapt as well. This week, one of our customers had their first completely remote Certification audit due to COVID-19. They were able to give the auditor access to all the required documentation and information via the Qooling Platform for remote auditing.

Requirements

Of course, the most basic requirement for remote auditing is a proper internet connection. This may sound trivial, but not every location has access to stable internet. Secondly, it is important to have a good, structured and easy-to-use QHSE platform for the auditor to have access to. This way, he or she can easily navigate through your management system and check your compliance. For a more human touch, a video conferencing option would also be great. Solutions like Zoom or Webex are great solutions to facilitate this.

Access control

Access control is hugely important when you set up for remote auditing. The auditor should have access to most, if not all, of your Quality and Safety related information. However, you don’t want him/her to accidentally change something in the system, so a dedicated auditor role should be set to prevent this from happening. Obviously, such an account should be view-only and prevent the auditor from doing anything else. Besides preventing the ability to change anything, it is also important that the auditor has access to all the files. Great platforms allow you to give document-level access to certain employees, so you can tailor the management system to the role of the employee in the company. However, with the auditor, it is crucial to give them full access to all documents. Don’t forget to set this correctly to avoid mundane questions.

Compliance

With the remote setup, the auditor has a great way to check for compliance to the standard. Of course there are still parts of the audit that cannot solely be covered by the platform, such as the interviews. However, the platform does hold the information to prove how things are going within the company. The actual interview can be done via web conference solutions with the data in the Quality and Safety platform as information to support and verify the claims that are made during the interview. This way, compliance to the standard can be shown completely remotely.

Conclusion

After being forced to move to remote auditing due to this devastating pandemic, perhaps remote auditing will become more common than before. If companies are able to facilitate it for the auditors, it should be getting much easier. This does require some form of online platform for the Quality and Safety Management and a suitable web conferencing solution.

Take care and stay safe during these extraordinary times.

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Why a QHSE Platform will help your organization

We talk with dozens of companies on a daily basis that have some degree of QHSE management system. Some are sophisticated; others are plain simple to use. The biggest question for most companies is, of course, why should I invest in a Quality and Safety platform? These are some of the most important reasons.

Transparency

High on the list to invest and move your management system to a QHSE platform, is transparency. Transparency allows employees to see what the company is doing, how it is doing and how it improves. It also allows employees to see what went wrong and how the company learns from its mistakes. This shows clearly that it is ok to make a mistake. Of course, there are mistakes that you will always want to prevent, but things can always happen. Also, transparency on how the company operates creates higher engagement and allows people to help the company move forward.

Structure

A proper online QHSE platform will bring structure to the management system. Most management systems are a bunch of files somewhere on servers or in SharePoint, in the hope that employees know where to find the documents. This chaotic way of working makes employees feel lost and tune out of the management system. The end result is that they aren’t able to leverage the management system to their own benefit, as it holds a lot of implicit knowledge that has been accumulated over the years.

Providing a structured platform will take out a lot of frustration with the employees and allows them to leverage the management system. They can use all the implicit knowledge to do a better job.

Data-Driven Decision Making

When a platform is implemented and more and more data is gathered, the organization can really start to improve based on actual data. The lower barrier to engage with the management system will increase the amount of data gathered. This data can be put to work when deciding on the improvement activities in the organization. Finally, the limited resources can be put to work much more effectively.

In control

The platform will also help in the control of compliance. Most of the compliance processes are covered in the platform and triggers are set when the expiration of important actions is coming up. This will reduce the stress of checking all documents and allows for better preparation for audits by certifying bodies, customers and, of course, the government.

Communication

Lastly, there is a huge win in communication. Because every employee can find everything they need to know, they don’t need to ask other people for the information. This not only prevents others from doing their job, it also introduces lots of communication errors. By providing all the employee needs, it is much easier.

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What Is HSE 4.0?

In line with Quality 4.0, there is also HSE 4.0. Maybe this speaks a little less to the imagination, but there are some fantastic examples of HSE 4.0 initiatives. However, the same as for Quality 4.0, you need to have a solid infrastructure before you can even start to think about HSE 4.0. A proper and open HSE platform is a necessity if you want to push the HSE into the new era of HSE 4.0. Without this infrastructure, it will be next to impossible to handle all the data that is coming out of sensors, cameras and human interactions. The latest techniques will significantly increase the amount of data and a proper cloud platform is required to handle all the data.

The Data

HSE 4.0 will lead to a significant increase in the data that is generated in the HSE system. Sensors will be installed to track safety behavior, which leads to so much data that the platforms need to be able to handle this. There are even companies that are using cameras to detect unsafe situations and near misses. When this data is becoming available, the HSE platform should be able to easily integrate with these options to create near misses in the HSE system.

HSE 4.0 in real life

Quality 4.0 is quite straightforward when it comes to using data to improve the process, which should lead to better Quality. For HSE 4.0, the examples aren’t really out in the open but we do see some amazing examples of how to use AI, IoT and Augmented Reality. We have seen companies using sensors to detect stress on safety harnesses to detect when somebody falls. Also accelerometers in combination with GPS in helmets to see if people wear them is another example. When it comes to AI, companies are looking at options to use this technology to detect unsafe situations. Cameras are trying to identify these situations and classify them. Augmented Reality is used to show the safety instructions and safety data sheets in front of the employee when needed. These examples are premature but companies are experimenting with this. When these technologies become widely accessible, it is important to have the right platform to leverage them.

Better Safety Training

All the data that is gathered has as main goal: making work safer. That is the main goal for everything done within an HSE system. This should be accomplished by creating (awareness) training programs. The HSE data coming from all these different sensors and other data sources are the main input for this training. This way, the data get used to improve the safety of the employees. It is now possible to create training sessions based on machine-generated data combined with user-generated data. This will give a great option to build the training because people don’t always say what they mean, whereas machines don’t have this fallacy. Combining these two sources allows for much better training.

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The Unique Job of being a QHSE Manager

As QHSE manager, we can get somewhat cynical over time. This is completely understandable because we are constantly looking for ways to improve processes. It is even embedded in the continuous improvement methodology. You search for processes to improve so you mainly see suboptimal things. However, we should never forget that as a Q&S Manager, we have a certain position in the company that is rather unique. We are in direct contact with every aspect of the company and help these departments to do things better. Who else in the company can say that? Besides the involvement in the departments, you have different roles which are a great variation in the day-to-day activities. This special roles require some significant skills.

Connections

As the Q&S manager, you are at the center of lots of processes. You don’t own them, you are certainly not responsible for them, and a lot of them you don’t follow yourself. However, you should know how they flow within the company. In this unique position you are connected to every aspect of the company whether it be HR, Sales, or Production. Maybe you cannot go to all locations physically due to time/distance constraints, but you do know what is going on. You are also connected to the people that perform the processes either by working on improving the process or by auditing them. Alone or as part of the team, you are the one where people go to when they want to improve their way of working.

Involvement

You get involved in lots of projects within the company. Not always directly in the operations, but when something new is going to happen, you will be involved due to your focus on change and improvement. These can be simple improvement plans for better administrative tasks, but they can also be serious innovative solutions that help the company move forward. When you position yourself like this, you will be right at the innovation in the company.

Roles

The Q&S manager is a connector within the company. Within this role you are not just working along with the people, but you also need to motivate them and coach them.

Connector

You are the person that needs to bring people together to make the improvements happen,—the Connector. When everybody is informed, it is your main task to make people understand the importance and motivate them to change.

Motivator

After connecting people, the Motivator is needed to drive change within the company. People don’t want to change by themselves, you have to persuade them and get them moving, which is not an easy job. Being a great motivator will help a lot in achieving this goal. Getting some lessons and best practices will help a lot.

Coach

When you are able to motivate people to change, you also need to be their Coach in achieving these changes. Motivating them is just the first step, then you move into the coaching role and make sure the people are able to put the improvement into practice. Being a coach is hard because every person has a different way of absorbing knowledge and information. Make sure you have some techniques in your toolbox to coach the people.

Conclusion.

Being a Q&S manager is pretty awesome. It is definitely challenging and hard at times to get a budget for improvements or getting people on the same page. Never forget, you are really in the middle of the action and can have some great impact on the company. Please appreciate your role but keep fighting for the things you consider important.

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Quality 4.0, What Is It?

There have been thousands of articles written about Quality 4.0 in various contexts and for various industries. Some claim that you should gather information, make the SOP digital available and train employees via e-learning. Yes, you should do all of this but that was part of Quality 3.0, not 4.0. If your company hasn’t moved to a Quality Management Cloud Platform, you are not ready for Quality 4.0, unfortunately.

So before you start to even think about a Quality 4.0 strategy, make sure you have a good foundation. You simply cannot try to execute the strategy without a proper QMS Cloud platform. You need to have the infrastructure to gather the data, connect the data and analyze the data. The implementation of the Quality 4.0 strategy can take years, so make sure the platform is able to adapt to changes in the market and allows for adjustment.

Data Is Key

Quality 4.0 is mainly about leveraging a significant amount of data to increase the Quality of the products and services produced. This sounds pretty straightforward because we crunch data every day, but having the right data is actually quite difficult. Most companies do have data, lots of data. However, when they start analyzing it they see big missing chucks, inconsistent data and simply corrupted data.

Having machines that are able to share their data, easy-to-use interfaces to create valuable data and other sensors and IoT solutions that generate data are essential sources. To further enrich your internal data, it is possible to buy datasets from bit Data Management Platform provider. These external sets can be used to benchmark your internal data or find context. The data needs to be vast, but more importantly accurate, so make sure data quality checks are in place to ensure this. In the end, wrong data can lead to wrong conclusions.

Connecting the Dots

When you really want to make sense of the data you are harvesting, it is important to connect it all. When going the Quality 4.0 route, open platforms and systems are key. It should be possible to connect the different systems and platforms with each other without much effort. This way data can easily flow between the systems and they can make sense of it for their particular purpose. The machine data can be used to predict production problems in a badge by the QMS platform. The same data can be used to plan predictive maintenance by the Asset Management platform while the ERP uses it to bill the customer. A single source of data can be interpreted and used in several different ways by different solutions so make sure it flows easily. This is why it is essential to allow for integration between different solutions and platforms.

The important component is that the data should be accessible to multiple departments. Different departments can leverage data in different ways as described by how the machine data can be used. In order to make the data accessible and interpretable for different departments, great BI tools are key. These are the platforms that visualize the data and give them more context to the people.

Make sure the data is not only accessible to management but make it visible to every layer in the company. This will get them informed but also engaged in the performance of the company. Quality 4.0 is not only digital and data, the main component is still and will always be the people.

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