Category Archives: QHSE

Problem Solving Approach (8D) Method

The Eight Disciplines (8D) is a problem solving method for product and process improvement. Its purpose is to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems. The structured approach provides transparency, drives a team approach, and increases the chance of solving the problem. 8D follows the logic of the PDCA-cycle. The disciplines are:

D1: Use a Team

Gathering together a good and cross-functional team is a crucial part. Due to a varied composition of knowledge, skills and experience, a problem can be looked at from different angles.

D2: Define and Describe the Problem

Define the problem in measurable terminology: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, How Much (5W2H analysis). This is a good addition to the problem analysis and can help you to get a clear description of the problem.

D3: Develop an Interim Containment Plan

This may be necessary to temporarily solve the obstacle. For example, to help a customer quickly and meet their expectations, or because a deadline has to be met. Finding the definitive solution in that case is of later concern. The point is that the problem getting worse is prevented, but it does have the goal of implementing the final solution later.

D4: Determine and Verify Root Causes

Before a definitive solution is found, it is important to identify underlying causes that may be at the root of the problem. Use the 5 Whys and cause and effects diagrams to map causes against the effect or problem identified.

D5: Verify Permanent Corrections (PCs)

As soon as the cause of the problem is known, the best solution can be found. From here, permanent corrections can be chosen and checked to solve the problem. It is also important to check whether the chosen solutions have any unwanted side effects. That is why it is necessary to also develop emergency measures that come in handy for unexpected events.

D6: Implement and Validate Corrective Actions

As soon as the definitive solution is clear, you can start with the implementation. By scheduling recurring audits, with a solution like Qooling for example, underlying problems can be eliminated prematurely. You also need to monitor long-term effects and take unforeseen events into account.

D7: Prevent Recurrence / System Problems

Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, additional measures must be taken to prevent you from making the same type of problems in the future. Often it is best to carefully review management systems, operation systems and procedures, and change them where necessary.

D8: Congratulate Your Team!

Recognize the collective efforts of the team. Formally thank team members for their involvement. Use approaches that appeal to each individual member, as not every employee is the same. This is therefore the most important step within the 8D method. Because without the team, the problem could probably not be found and solved. Make sure you celebrate achievements.

The 8D method is a great method to not only reduce product and processing concerns, but also to increase customer satisfaction. A practical workflow solution like Qooling can help you with this in many ways. Experience the many possibilities of Qooling and ask for a free demo.

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PESTEL analysis – Context of the organisation

As an addition to our previous published blog about the SWOT analysis, I decided to give you more information on another effective tool for identifying the context of the organization of clause 4.1. Just like the SWOT, the PESTEL is one of the tools that is most used by companies to identify the external aspects of the organization. You’re probably thinking that you don’t need to use both the SWOT and PESTEL analysis, and you’re right as the SWOT analysis already takes care of the external factors. Although, business environmental scanning is best achieved when using both tools in collaboration. It may be a cumbersome task, but it gives your organization the full view of defining the context.

ISO Ask for Context Analysis

The new requirements of ISO 9001:2015 state that you need to carry out an analysis that indicates the internal and external factors that affect the organization. To help you further, I’ll show you examples of each factor so that you can apply them to your business.

(P)olitical factors

By examining the political factors, you should look at government decisions. Legislation and regulations are very important here. A change in these can affect your organization in the upcoming 3 to 5 years. Ask yourself the following questions:

(E)conomic factors

You will have to examine which economic factors may affect your organization. These factors are determinants of an economy’s performance that directly impact your organization and have resonating long term effects. Use the following questions to find out the important factors:

  • How stable is the current economy? Is it in an period of growth or recession?
  • How is globalization affecting the economic environment?
  • Do consumers and businesses have easy access to credit? If not, how will this affect your organization?

(S)ocio-cultural factors

The consumer is mapped out by means of socio-cultural factors. This makes it possible to determine, among other things, how far the power lies with the consumer. The socio-cultural factors can be examined by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are people changing buying habits?
  • How do religious beliefs and lifestyle choices affect the population?
  • Are there any new social trends?

(T)echnological factors

Depending on the industry, these factors will have more impact or less impact. Assess any big technological developments and determine how they can impact your organisation. These questions can help you further:

  • Are there new technologies that you could be using?
  • Do any of your competitors have access to new technologies that will result in a competitive advantage?
  • Are there other technological developments that could affect your industry?

(E)nvironmental factors

The level at which you should identify environmental aspects will depend on your intended purpose. A company can determine that they have environmental aspects consisting of:

(L)egal factors

This factor takes into consideration all legal aspects. This point is closely related to political factors but focuses more on the actual laws and not on the political directions of a country or region. This can include:

  • Are their new environmental permitting requirements for your sector?
  • Could any industry-specific regulation affect your organization?
  • Are there changes in employees’ law?

TIP:

Do not collect large amounts of data without properly analyzing and understanding them first. After that you can carefully consider which factors are important to your organization. This allows you to create an actionable plan that is prepared for upcoming changes.

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How to build a safety culture in 6 steps

Safety is more than a number of measures to prevent accidents. To build a strong safety culture, it has to come to life among all employees of the organization. Although most employers take extensive steps to protect their employees, these regulations are almost always meaningless without an overall positive safety culture within the organization. Employees must have a shared vision when it comes to safety, where also top management plays an important role.

In this post we discuss six important points that contribute to a better safety culture within your organization.

1. Communication

Communicating occupational safety and health information with your employees is crucial to prevent accidents from happening. It is only human to forget crucial information or cut corners when there is no one there to check them. Apply the communication the best way suitable for your company with flyers or via digital communication boards.

2. Provide training

By regularly offering training courses, employees are always up-to-date with the latest developments. Share best practices during weekly safety meetings and provide safety information to your employees. This keeps employees sharp, so accidents can be prevented. During the training also explain why it is important to share the knowledge gained by the company thanks to employees sharing their experiences and expertise.

3. Lead by Example

Leadership is a crucial part of ensuring safety on the construction site. Employees who see their supervisor take safety at work seriously, are more likely to take the time and effort to work safety. Don’t walk on side within the proper PPE’s.

4. Involve workers

The more an employee understand and feels involved by creating a safety culture, the more likely they will take actions. Make the employees part of the improvements the company makes. Show them how they contributed to the outcomes.

5. Top management buy-in

In order for an organization to develop a strong safety culture, the safety culture must start from the top and all the way down to the least experienced employee. All employees must understand that safety is their most important priority of his or her work.

6. Celebrate success

It is important to give your employees credits when they are reaching goals. By celebrating your success, you will give your employees the feeling that they are of real value for the company. It also reinforces the motivation that employees will carry during the next performance.

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8 Tips for How to Approach the ‘internal context’ in relation to ISO9001: 2015

One of the bottlenecks that I encountered when my customers developed their quality management system to comply with ISO9001: 2015 is the concept of “internal context”.

1 Employee engagement

The engagement of employees is fundamental to the success of every business operation. Reducing turnover also reduces costs associated with recruitment such as agency fees, preparation of contracts and training and inductions.  Engagement with the quality management system is integral to its effectiveness. Everyone at every level should know how they contribute to quality.

2 Training and development

Whether your employees undertake formal external training, an internal development program (such as a graduate scheme or accelerated promotion scheme) or informal sharing of knowledge through a buddy or mentor system, training and development is key to managing a skilled workforce.   A quality management system can help you to identify training needs and maintain appropriate records.

3 Skills and competence

Consider how your quality management system can help you to identify and address skills gaps and ensure you always have the right skills to satisfy your customer requirements.  How will you measure competence to ensure the effectiveness of any training you provide or any specific skills you recruit?

4 Physical resources

Ensuring you have the right physical resources to deliver your promise to customers is essential.  A quality management system can help you get to grips with what you need, where and when you need it and what the potential impact might be if you don’t.

5 Management methodology

ISO 9001:2015 promotes leadership at all levels.  It talks about top management empowering and encouraging leadership to promote the quality management system.  Do all your managers sing from the same hymn sheet? Are your management team clear on the vision, values and goals of the company?

6 Policies

Having robust policies in place to support your business strategy is essential.  Not only do they set out your stance internally for staff members, they can also provide a source of information externally for your customers and suppliers.

7 Mission and values

This is essentially your reason for being in business along with the principles which matter to you in running your business.  These are an important element of a quality management system as they feed in to the policies and management methodology mentioned above.

8 Supplier / partner management

Is your business entirely self-sufficient?  Chances are you rely on at least one key supplier or partner in order to deliver your products or services.  Try categorising them in order of how critical they are to your operations. The ones that you absolutely can’t function without should be your priority to manage.

 

This article has been written by Lucy Payne of valeqms.co.uk

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When is an Audit not an Audit?

When you decide to become ISO certified you go through a series of steps and the certification body you choose also goes through a series of steps. Some companies hire a QA or QHSE Manager to undertake this task whereas others bring in outside help. The path you choose really depends upon your budget and how much time you are able to spend on writing processes, policies, procedures, job descriptions, conducting audits, writing reports, performing an audit, etc.

The consultant and certification body you choose have a huge impact on the integrity and robustness of your system.

Internal and 3rd Party audits serve two purposes. The audit by the Certification Body is obviously to get the certificate. The initial internal audit is to ensure that the QMS/QHSE system is ready for the 3rd party audit and subsequent audits ensure that the system maintains its integrity.

This is where 3rd party auditors play a key role. If 3rd party auditors do a bad job during audits it sends the wrong message to the companies’ management and internal auditors. A bad audit may take place because (1) the auditor is inexperienced in the industry he is auditing, (2) he generally lacks audit experience or (3) it’s deliberate. It is the latter that is the most worrying and is what I like to call a ‘fake audit’.

So what happens during these fake audits? Here are the signs to look for:

1.     The consultant comes with a 2 in 1 package, i.e. get the consultancy and the certificate for one fee. In essence, well known Certification Bodies’ fees are not cheap for a reason and these are separate from the consultant’s fees.

2.     A certificate is issued without an actual audit; maybe just after a meeting or a desktop audit.

3.     If the auditor does turn up and conducts an audit, obvious major or numerous minor non-conformities are ignored. In other words non-conformities are not issued when they should be.

4.     The Auditor says one thing to the Management Representative and another to the company management.

5.     Instead of focussing on the audit, the auditor spends more time complaining about his job and wishing he worked in a company like yours. This might give an indication as to why he is being soft.

Therefore, it’s worth remembering that not all certificates are the same.

This article has been written by Birjees Hussain

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How management buy-in can help ISO implementation

One of the most difficult tasks that a person may need to undertake before approaching the ISO topic is to win the buy-in from top management. QHSE is considered a cost center where resources are spent to implement and manage the system, but the benefits may not be immediately apparent.

Of course, a key concern for top management is a healthy bottom-line. This is communicated to all department heads in the form of KPI’s with accountability. This means that everyone knows what is important for top management and what is expected of them. But this rarely happens when it comes to ISO.

Sending the right message to your people about the importance of cooperation with the implementation project means a smoother transition. Things get done in a more timely manner. With the right level of support, within six months you must be able to build a completely integrated management system across multiple locations and different business units.

Depending on the size and complexity of an organization, an ISO system contains multiple components. How quickly these are prepared and ready for use depends on the involvement of top management.

So what happens if the management doesn’t send the right message?

Not much attention is paid to ISO and the initial never gets off the ground, usually because the QA Manager leaves it to the departments. In this case, departments are so busy that they never manage to do their part. As a result, the term of 2 weeks changes in 1 month, then 2 months, etc.

Internal auditors are trained for a period of 2 days, but when audits are required, most trainees are not available. And if they are, they rush through the audits, missing crucial non-compliances.

There are challenges for your authority as an auditor. Non-conformities do not get addressed in a timely manner. Corrective and Preventive Actions don’t get adequately implemented or they are addressed in a rush to get you out of the way.

Requested data such as those for KPIs, HSE and customer feedback are never sent or you have to ask for it again and again.

There is a poor turnout at management assessments or safety committees.

These are the worst case scenarios, but not uncommon.

So how do you bring management on board?

  • Work out the Cost of Quality and that is not the cost involved in implementing and managing it.
  • Calculate the direct costs of not implementing health and safety, but also highlights the indirect costs of the more difficult to quantify, but are costs nonetheless.
  • Explain what QHSE would mean for their customers and future customers.
  • Explain how a QHSE system would improve their supplier relationships and business results

Because money is an important subject, it is important to emphasize that QHSE is not only a cost center, but also a profit center, provided that they become involved.

This article has been written by Birjees Hussain

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GDPR in Quality Management

The date that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming into effect is approaching soon. This new law affects almost all companies, but it can have a bigger effect on certified companies. Regardless of the certificate the company holds, all ISO certificates have the fundamental rule:

“The organization needs to demonstrate that they meet the legal requirements.”

This small but fundamental rule means that the certificates are only valid when an organization operates according to the law. Now we know that laws can be fluid and also contradicting depending on regions and countries, but we won’t go into this now. It is fair to say that all companies need to operate according to the GDPR. In this blogpost we provide some easy tips on how this can impact your management system. In the end a lot of companies treat compliance to laws in the same region as compliance to international standards.

The Data

There is a lot of data going through the company. In order to understand which data is stored where, classifying the data helps a lot. A good point to start with is classifying the data owners in line with the stakeholders identified in the stakeholder analysis. Most data can be classified into three categories: customers, employees and suppliers. When the type of stakeholder is known, it is important to classify the kind of data, such as: personal data, company data, payment data, etc. These classifications are highly dependent on the type of service or product you deliver. It is important to know where the data is stored. In order to have this overview you should map out all the products/services you have that hold any kind of data. Some topics we use for such a register are:

  • Company name
  • Contact person
  • Purpose of data
  • Type of Stakeholder
    • Customer
    • Employee
    • Supplier
  • Type of Data
    • Contact details
    • Payment details
    • Personal details
  • Duration of saving
  • Agreement (PDF of contract)

Management System

On top of the register there are some processes that need to be added. People now have more rights, and in order to observe that it is important to document how you support these rights. Two important points here are:

  • How is the organization going to make sure that people have the right to be forgotten? In essence, how are you going to delete all their data across all databases?
  • How will the organization support a request from a customer to get an overview of all the information the organization holds of that person?

These are just two important questions, but it shows that clearly defined processes should be in place and therefore must be added in some way to the management system.

Organizational Impact

The organization can be quite significant. You need to assess whether a data protection officer is required. The three main assessment points are:

  • Public authorities or bodies, except for courts acting in their judicial capacity.
  • Companies who process data requiring ‘regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale’.
  • Companies who process, on a large scale, any special category of personal data. This includes data which reveals racial or ethnic origin; political opinions; religious or philosophical beliefs and other such information.
  • Companies who process, on a large scale, personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences.

In case you are required to appoint a data protection officer it is good to include this in the management system, just like your prevention officer is part of the management system.

Policies

The last important part of the GDPR is that the organization has a clear policy on how to handle data and how to protect it. This policy should be readily available and easy accessible for stakeholders.

Impact on Management System

With the requirement to work according to the law and regulations, the GDPR has a clear impact on most management systems around the world. Due to the overlap in a lot of best practices within international standards, we recommend to make the GDPR an inclusive part of your management system, and not to treat it as a separate part.

If you want to know how you can structure a lot of the GDPR related activities within an integrated management system, just contact us.

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How to keep your quality management system simple

That may sound like a contradiction in terms, particularly if you’ve ever read a management system standard document! They’re not the simplest of things to comprehend but that doesn’t mean your management system has to be just as hard work.

Keep it simple!

A quality management system is mainly focused on customer satisfaction, in which a healthy amount of risk management is introduced for a good dose.

The vast majority of business owners want happy customers and lower risks right? So think about the steps that you naturally take to ensure these are achieved and hey presto! you have the basis for implementing your system.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It is not necessary to make a shoehorn in extra forms, registers, checks or balances to meet a theoretical need. Start with what you have and keep it simple.

Mandatory requirements

Among the mandatory requirements of a formally certified quality management system are a quality policy and quality objectives. Even if you have no need for a formally certified system, your business can still benefit from having these in place.

Your customers will be happy that you’re demonstrating your commitment to quality. Your business will have additional direction and purpose created by your quality objectives.

Be authentic

The remaining requirements of a quality management system include sufficient process documentation that you can be sure things are working to plan. You will define the measures of success and when and how these are to be monitored and evaluated.

Don’t be tempted to download a template package. Yes, I know it’s free and it promises to be super easy. The reality is it will never be anything more than a burden. Be authentic. Write your own.

Simply the best

The best systems are the simplest ones. Simplicity doesn’t mean that something isn’t fit for purpose. Conversely, just because something is complicated doesn’t mean it’s better.

The best person to write your policies and processes is you. You can employ the services of a consultant to coach and guide you. They may even do some writing for you but ultimately you know your business best.

If you’re a slightly bigger business with segregated duties and responsibilities, get the process owners to do the writing. Process owners are the people who operate and/or manage an activity on a daily basis. The experts.

 

This article has been written by Lucy Payne of valeqms.co.uk

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The Importance of Top Management Buy-In

Top management is crucial when it comes to a successful management system. Management should actively show that they can see the added value of the system. Almost every director states that quality is at the core of the organization and is recognized as one of the pillars of the company. Ensuring that this is actually the case and how to keep it maintained proves to be much harder. Once too often top management points the finger to the quality department when it comes to maintaining the quality. Having a quality department doesn’t say anything about the quality you deliver, actual actions should be taken.

Why a Management System?

Top management might feel like the management system is a necessary evil because they don’t see what it brings for them. Most of them may agree that having proper processes gives guidance to the employees and a certain amount of structure to the organization. However, when it comes to managing the system and more importantly the information that comes out of it, most managers get lost. When asked about the cost of quality of their company or their cost of safety they have no clue and might be able to come up with a educated guess. Though most agree that having these actual figures helps them to make better decisions. That is why using the proper solutions for managing the quality and safety are so important. Qooling gives top management constant real-time insight in their actual cost of safety. It also lowers the barrier for employees to file these mistakes which leads to much more data to analyse, and therefore the opportunity to make better informed decisions.

Lead by Example

Procedure and process can be annoying sometimes. They are designed to keep things organized within an organization with the trade off of losing some time efficiency. However, having people working according a certain system helps maintain consistencies and a certain level of quality and safety. Most processes have the organization in mind, sometimes at the expense of the individual employee.

Due to these trade offs, some top management cut corners when it comes to certain processes, which might be necessary at times. The implications can be quite severe because of the sign it gives to other employees. If you don’t think the processes is important enough to follow why should others?

Actively Involved

Being actively involved in the management system will show commitment to the company. This can be as easy as pointing out certain topics when walking around. A better approach is when top management is actively performing management walks or organizing toolbox meetings. These actions directly shows the commitment of top management to these things. This doesn’t have to be all formal but can be a life conference call to the company or just a certain location. The point is, it shows how involved top management is and how important they think these matters are.

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The Importance of Toolbox Meetings

Toolbox Meetings are key when communicating safety related topics with employees. However, a number of companies still feel it is a necessary evil, mainly due to all the administration involved. In this post there are just a few topics you can touch on to inform the employees and make the toolbox meeting worth their time.

Feedback on Incidents Filed,

The toolbox meeting is a great vehicle to inform the team about incidents and issues filed by certain team members. By giving them feedback on the status of the investigation they will be more likely to file incidents in the future. Even giving them insight in what actions have been taken to improve the company will give them a sense of importance. In this whole process it is crucial to give the employee credits for filing the issue in the first place. This helps to create an open and transparent culture and keeps the team engaged in the safety culture.

Informing

It is always good to share knowledge with employees during the toolbox meeting. This can be about everything related to safety of course. Touch upon the danger they face during their day-to-day job. Keep on repeating these risks because most accidents happen when work is done solely on routine and basically on autopilot. Tell them how they can lower the risks of the work they do.

Update

The toolbox meeting is also a great opportunity to update personnel on changes to processes or work instructions. Whenever there are any changes being made, use the toolbox meeting to inform the staff and give a short explanation of why they have changed. It is even possible to get instant feedback on these changes.

Free Input

At the end of the toolbox meeting give the team the opportunity to give input. This can be about an incident they would like to report or a suggestion to improve a work instruction. Keep the dialogue open and gather the knowledge of the people in the field share during meeting.

Running efficiently

The administration that comes with the toolbox meeting can be quite a pain; inviting people, keeping track of the attendance list and analyzing which person has been attending which meeting. Automating this process will save you a lot of time and allows you to focus on having the right information to share with the team. Want to know how Qooling can help you? Just drop us an email.

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