Category Archives: QHSE

QHSE and Employee Engagement

Quality is a very important part of doing business. When a company delivers poor quality products or services it won’t last very long. However, maintaining and improving a QHSE management system can feel like an uphill battle due to lack of employee engagement. Every QHSE management system comes with additional procedures and processes which forces employees into a certain direction, often for the better. Employees can experience this as a need to control their activities which makes them less engaged in the QHSE management system.

Company communication

In order to keep the engagement high among the employees it is of major importance that the added value of the QHSE management system is communicated consistently and on a regular basis. Most of the employees do understand the importance of the QHSE management system for the company. Even when most of the employees understand the added value of the QHSE it is almost critical to the success of the QHSE management system to communicate the importance regularly. The exact number of times this communication has to take place is very dependent on the organisation. Learn what works with trial and error, start for example with every 2 months. When the engagement rises, the frequency can be lowered to once in 3 or 4 months.

Increase engagement

Another good tactic to keep the employees engaged is to make them owners of procedures and allow them to optimize those procedures. Most of the time the QHSE manager creates the procedure together with some employees. However, as a QHSE manager it is important to be open for improvements or changes to these procedures. Some procedure may become obsolete while others become more complex due to changes in the business environment. It is very important to listen to the people who apply these procedures on a daily basis and alter them if necessary. When you do alter a procedure, give the credits to the employee who gave the suggestion. This makes them feel valued and increases the engagement.

Next to the openness to create engagement, a company can make the involvement in the QHSE management system part of the yearly employee review. This doesn’t have to be very strict it just gives an employee with good inputs some extra credit during the review.

There are lots of other strategies you can use to increase engagement. We would love to hear which one you applied. Please put them in the comments.

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Risk Management

Risk management is a high priority within every company, regardless of certification efforts. This does not mean that risks are avoided at all costs, just that risks are identified, evaluated, and decisions are made based on these evaluations.

Risk identification is not part of ISO9001:2008, but will be included in ISO9001:2015, and is included in OHSAS18001 and ISO14001. Despite subtle differences, the latter certifications will pave the way for the ISO9001:2015 certificate for companies which already have those in place.

While the importance of risk identification is unquestionable, and implementation of strategies to perform this identification differ wildly, at their core they all deal with the following questions:

  • What are the odds of an incident?
  • What is the impact of that incident?
  • What options do we have to reduce either odds or impact?

Simple on the surface, yet hard questions to answer. Thankfully the exercise of risk identification is equally important, not just the answers to those questions. Identification opens the door to making informed decisions, reducing either occurrence or impact where risks are involved and can’t be mitigated. Below are examples of employee risk identification and evaluation used in OHSAS18001 or ISO45001:

  • What hazard does an employee face?
  • What are potential consequences of a hazard?
  • If no control measures are in place, what is the likelyhood of occurrence? (Pure Risk)
  • Given current control measures, what is the likelyhood of occurrence?
  • What is the effectiveness of current control measures? (Hierarchy)
  • How can we improve upon current control measures? (Continuous Improvement)

In addition to the identification and evaluation of risks, these questions force a company to evaluate control mechanisms reducing risk. Every step of the PDCA cycle is embedded in these questions, and revisiting the questions makes for continuous improvement.

These questions should be asked and answered throughout the company to get a complete picture of all risks involved, and allow for the best decision making process based on identified risks.

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Quality Management and the science/art of version control

The version control system of your Quality Management System is very important. Whenever an audit is performed the most common question is:

“How do you know that is the latest version of your document?”

This easy question is pretty difficult to answer. I mean we all have a certain methodology to increase the version numbering, but how do you know it is accurate. We have seen several solutions/answers in order to provide a satisfying solution to this problem. Down below are some potential solutions.

Document Management System

There are a lot of information management systems available to manage document control. Some good examples are Sharepoint and Windchill. The biggest issue is that these systems are relatively expensive. Furthermore, implementing these solutions not only change the version control process but they have a significant impact on your organization. This results in a long implementation process and therefore even higher costs because of the loss of effective hours by the employees of the company and increased consulting costs.

Register

The low cost solution to solve this issue is by creating a register where you track all the changes made to the several documents. The register can be set up in excel/access or any other type of database.

The idea is that whenever a document is edited you update the version number and also add the date when you altered the document. As a result you can always cross check the version number on the document with the latest version in the register. This makes the whole document handling process more secure. However, this setup is very cumbersome and prone to human mistakes. The QHSE employees need to have a strict discipline to change the register every time a document changes.

Tooling

Next to handling the version control of documents manually or with a general Document Management System, more specialized tools can be used. These tools focus on managing and maintaining the complete QHSE management system. As part of this these tools provide a versioning system for documents. Next to the versioning of documents a whole range of other feature are embedded to support the QHSE management system, such as: Issue tracking, Audit support, etc. Qooling is such a tool who automates the proces of version control and therefor allows your to work on more important things.

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