Category Archives: Risk

Toolbox Meetings: Stop Wasting Time

Toolbox meetings are an important tool to inform the employees about everything related to safety. The topics can vary from just general safety to project-specific risks. Getting the employees together and talking about these topics is really important to keep the safety culture alive.

Despite the importance of the toolbox meetings, they do come with some pitfalls. We will touch upon them and give you some simple tips on how to prevent them.

The Planning

Planning toolbox meetings can be already quite a big deal. Figuring out who is available at which particular time isn’t all that easy. We have seen professionals trying to be everybody’s friend and taking all the agendas of the employees into account. Please don’t do this, it’s not feasible. Make your own plan, it’s best to just plan the meeting and don’t give people the room to renegotiate the time and date. When you agree to this, you will never be able to plan anything as they will constantly be moved about to suit everyone’s needs.

Attendance List

Related to the planning is managing attendees of these toolbox meetings. It is crucial that every employee has had access to the information discussed during the meeting. To guarantee this happens properly, an attendance list can help. It is then easy to see who attended the toolbox meeting and what was discussed.

Regardless of the importance of the attendance list, creating clear overviews of who attended which toolbox meetings in any given year isn’t that straightforward. Big Excel sheets are often to guide the process. This is where Qooling steps in and helps you manage this process with just a couple of mouse clicks.

Missing Toolbox Meeting

When the overviews of the attendees have been created, you need to start to fill in the blanks. Employees can be sick, on holiday or at a different location for work. Despite the reasons, it is your responsibility to make sure every employee has had all the information that was shared. Filling in the missing pieces can be a big pain because you need to invite these people again for a retake of the toolbox meeting. Which means that you end up doing the toolbox meeting at least 2 times, and maybe even more.

The digital toolbox meetings of Qooling allow you to simply distribute the toolbox meeting digitally and add some additional questions. This way the employee can check the toolbox meeting whenever they have the time within a fixed time period. Plus they always have all the historical toolbox meetings right at his/her fingertips. Want to try out the digital toolbox meetings? Click here

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What Every Company Needs to Know About Valuable Safety Management

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in: prioritizing safety management is a crucial responsibility of any high-level manager. If protocols are not established, your business risks having staff injured on the job. As one workers compensation attorney in Philadelphia states: “Most victims are unable to continue working in the same capacity as before the injury.”

Injuries on the job due to improper management can be harmful to your bottom line. They can also deter clients and employees from seeking you out. But, successful safety management protects employees and ensures the organization is compliant with all relevant laws.

A strong safety management system can help companies achieve this crucial goal. However, before selecting one, it’s important to understand certain key points.

Identifying Risk Factors

An effective safety management system will gather important information about the potential risks your employees may be exposed to on the job. This system can track various types of information, like employee medical history and the kinds of safety hazards common to workers in your industry.

The gathered information makes it easier for you to identify what types of danger your workers are most likely to find themselves in. Thus, you’re better prepared to put preventative measures in place.

Handling Important Processes

A safety management system shouldn’t just help you identify hazards. It should also help you evaluate the performance of any steps you take to mitigate risks. You can, and should, use your system to regularly assess the impact of your safety efforts and programs.

No One Person is Responsible for Implementing the System

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that only dedicated safety specialists play a role in implementing and maintaining this system. Everyone in the company’s chain-of-command is involved.

A senior manager is likely to be the one who establishes protocols and allocates the necessary funds and resources for a safety management system. But, management is responsible for ensuring these protocols are maintained within their individual departments.

Safety Systems Boost Efficiency

According to a recent study, safety management systems are effective at reducing the frequency of accidents in the workplace. As OSHA points out, this results in a major boost in both productivity and efficiency.

Companies incur additional expenses when employees get hurt or sick on the job. The cost of investigating the accident, compensating the employee, and possibly having to hire and train a replacement can have a major impact on a company’s yield.

Safety management systems prevent these consequences. They’ve also been shown to improve employee morale, which further improves productivity.

Constant Improvement

Safety management systems evolve. By monitoring their effectiveness, managers can identify areas of the business that need improvement. Making sure lower-level employees can contribute feedback is a smart way to improve the system, as they are often more likely to be exposed to hazards. Additionally, employee feedback is one way to devote attention to continuous performance management and boost your organization’s morale and efficiency.

Improved Products

A safety management system is geared towards identifying and addressing hazards. That said, when used properly, it can also indirectly enhance the quality of a company’s products or services.

That’s because responding to workplace injuries depletes an organization’s resources. When employees are safer, a company can direct more attention and energy to optimizing its products. The company’s staff will also be more productive on the job. As a result, the entire business performs at a higher, more consistent level.

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Managing small business risks

Risks are inevitable.  Whether in life or in business, things happen that we can’t control.  What we can control is how we respond to those events and occurrences.

Managing small business risks is often as simple as having someone else to open up for you if your main key-holder is delayed.  Or having somewhere to divert your phone to if you’re unavailable. Or having a back-up plan in case your broadband service fails.  These things might not initially seem worthy of a full risk analysis when compared to the risks faced by bigger organisations.  But, if any of them actually happened, do you know how you would deal with them?

Identifying risks

In its ISO 9001 definition, risk is the effect of uncertainty.

Not many of us have a crystal ball handy to gaze into and predict the future, but we can consider things which might reasonably happen.

In my earlier blog on risk management, I talked about risks in relation to quality and how they can arise internally and externally to your business.   One really easy way to identify risks is simply to think about, and list, all the things that could realistically go wrong which would upset your customers or leave you unable to carry out your business.

  • How much do you rely on your utilities services to be able to function?
  • What would happen if a ‘flu epidemic wiped out half your employees for a week?
  • How would you carry on if your landlord served notice on your business premises?

Using my tips on the Process Approach may help to identify where risks occur in your business processes.

Assessing risks

Your own attitude to risk will differ from someone else’s so any steps you take to address risk may also be different.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Having said that, a fairly common method is to assess the likelihood of the risk occurring and the severity or impact if it does.  You can score these out of 3 or 5, depending on your preference.  Then multiply the likelihood by the impact to reach the overall risk score.

You decide the score threshold at which you need to take action to reduce or mitigate the risks.  Anything above your threshold will need some action.

Considering plan B

The way you counter these risks may be different for each one identified.

Having a back-up plan for agency staff resources may be enough to satisfy the risk of large scale sickness absence.  Or you could decide to provide everyone with a ‘flu jab each year.  The point is that it’s up to you.

If access to the internet is essential to carrying out your everyday business activities, you may consider investing in a mobile broadband unit on a pay-as-you-go or a pay monthly contract.  One of my clients did this just recently as a result of our earlier session on risks and opportunities.  They even got to use it much sooner than expected when their office broadband failed.

Business benefits

The business benefits of managing risks can be diverse.  Whether it’s managing supply your chain, ensuring profitability, securing funding for your next project through good governance and robust risk management or simply helping you sleep at night, taking action is the most positive step you can make.

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

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What really matters in workplace safety

Many companies that have a Health & Safety system in place assume that they will never have an accident. They set KPIs for zero accidents but when you ask how they will achieve this objective, many haven’t really thought about it.

Ask a member of the top management about the Health & Safety Policy of the company and quite a few won’t be able to tell you much. Most don’t know how the HSE system is performing until a serious accident happens or large compensation payments have to be made. But there are things that can be done to strive for the zero accidents objective.

Start at the Top

A Health & Safety system is not the sole responsibility of the HSE Manager. But rarely do top management get involved in the implementation or even hear about how things are progressing on a daily basis, unless there’s been an incident.

Therefore, top Management must lead by example. But what does this really mean? This involves more than setting a zero accident KPI or sending out a memo to heads of department informing them that they must comply. Rarely do we see top management make regular site visit to see what controls are in place to prevent accidents and whether or not staff are working safely, or even their presence on safety committees.

Getting actively involved in these kinds of activities and listening to concerns raised will send the message that staff safety is a priority.

Train

  1. Train staff, including supervisors, to work safely.
  2. Train staff in correct operation of machinery and other equipment
  3. Train staff in the correct use and storage of PPE. I found that penalising staff for not using PPE, yes many don’t like wearing hard hats, especially in the heat, encouraged them to do so.
  4. Train staff in safety awareness

Ensure Accountability

Add Health & Safety compliance to everyone’s job description, including that of top management.

In my experience punishing staff does change their their way of working. Making them accountable for their actions also changes their way of working.  Just as nobody wants X amount deducted from their salary for not wearing PPE, if someone didn’t follow safety guidelines they would not want a report documenting it.

Encourage

Lack of supervision encourages employees to be lax with Safety. By carrying out regular inspections throughout the day, you encourage them to be more vigilant.

Encourage employees to report near misses, because these are the following mistakes that eventually lead to accidents. Eliminate reprisals with anonymous reporting.

Objectives

When setting timelines for objectives take safety into consideration. Unrealistic timelines encourage staff to hurry and thus work unsafely. Working faster doesn’t necessary mean getting the job done more quickly. In fact, machine operators who try to rush through a task are more likely to have an accident because either they do not take the time to load things safely or to fix the lifting equipment properly to that which is being lifted.

Root Cause Analysis

No matter how small an accident is, top management must ensure that it is carefully examined and prepared comprehensively.

Carry out an extensive analysis of the cause of the incident. I always found it surprising that the end result of a root cause analysis was almost always ‘human error’. This is the easiest way out and often incorrect. Even human error has a cause that should be investigated.

This article has been written by Birjees Hussain

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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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Risk management in relation to quality

The concept of risk-based thinking has been adopted explicitly by ISO 9001:2015 and replaces the previously stated requirement in ISO 9001:2008 for ‘preventive action’.

In ISO 9001 , risk is defined as ”the effect of uncertainty”. Therefore, risk management in relation to quality, involves the identification, assessment and prioritisation of risks to product or service conformity.  The purpose of this activity is to minimize the potential negative effects of opportunities and risks.

Risk in relation to quality

Both internally as externally quality risks can arise to the company. Internal risks include:

  • shareholders
  • employees
  • equipment
  • technology/software
  • storage of raw materials
  • storage of finished products
  • after-sales support

External risks, which could extend throughout the supply chain, include:

  • landlord
  • legal/regulatory compliance
  • suppliers/delivery partners
  • clients/customers
  • political/social/economic factors
  • special interest groups/action groups
  • general public

Identifying and assessing risks

Tools and techniques to assist in the identification of such risks to quality include brainstorming, fault tree analysis, process mapping and failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA). Effective application of these tools can help to identify risks.

Options to address risks

Options for addressing risks include:

  • avoidance of the source of the risk
  • taking action to reduce the likelihood of the risk
  • taking action to reduce the severity of the risk
  • transferring the risk to a third party
  • retaining the risk under informed decision (perhaps in order to pursue an opportunity)

Benefits of addressing risks

The benefits of addressing risks include:

  • reduced likelihood of occurrence
  • reduced insurance premiums
  • added assurance for investors/shareholders
  • improved customer satisfaction
  • improved employee engagement

Following a thorough risk assessment of your business operations, you can formulate a comprehensive, robust and practical Business Continuity Plan and/or Disaster Recovery Plan.  As a result, you are able to be proactive in identifying risks and addressing potential pitfalls.  This is surely preferable to simply leaving your business success to chance.

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

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Risk management in CAPA

How to Include Risk Management into Your CAPA?

Even though the preventive action is no longer part of the terminology of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, A lot of people still use the phrase CAPA (corrective and preventive actions). CAPA’s have been around for quite a while and are a crucial part of the continuous improvement for a lot companies. With the new risk-based thinking coming in it can be good practice to make risk management part of the CAPA strategy.

Vanila CAPA

CAPA has been used a lot as a way to take action on incidents or issues that happened within a company. By deploying a strategy of corrective and preventive actions, the company tries to prevent these incidents from happening in the future.

The CAPA strategy allows companies to see what went wrong and forces them to think about proper actions on how to solve and prevent it. Because the output is an actionable list, every person involved in resolving the issues knows exactly what to do and when to do it. When all actions are taken the results are verified and checked for effectiveness. This way companies can clearly see the actual impact of the actions on the organization.

Risk Management Within CAPA

By adding the risk-based thinking into the CAPA, companies are allowed to keep their risk management up to date and lively. Whenever a CAPA strategy is created it is crucial to check the risks that are involved in that part of the organization. The very fact that something happened means that there is a risk in that particular part of the organization. Updating the risk management is important to keep the organization in line with the current situation. By incorporating the risk management, new actions are developed to reduce the risk for the company.

How to Do It?

Automation is there not only to help with the CAPA strategy, but also for the risk management strategy. Easily distributing the different corrective and preventive actions to the designated owners helps in tracking the progress of the strategy. Also the ability to directly connect to the different actions to the risks sets for much better traceability of the actions and their origin. This way the people in charge of quality and safety are more in control of the process.

If you want to know how Qooling can help you in managing your CAPA strategies, just drop us an email.

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The Importance of Training

As with every aspect of training employees, training them on the management system and common ways of working is critical to maintain consistency. A management system will never be effective or functional if nobody can find the different procedures and forms. Automation can help here, for example by setting up access restrictions to prevent employees from getting an information overload. However, this will only provide guidance rather than replacing the complete training.

Way of Working

New employees will unfortunately not figure out magically how certain things are done within the organization. They either need to read about it or somebody needs to tell them. A combination of both is the best way.. First a colleague explains the process while the documents are there to check later. This might seems like a time consuming exercise but it is more than worth it. Not giving enough training can cost the company much more due to error and inefficiencies. An improperly trained employee can cost a lot of money either directly due to mistakes or secondary due to keying in the wrong data into systems.

Filling in Data

In order to build a gold mine of data it is important to explain to the employees what kind of data they need to fill in these systems. It is very easy to fill in data for the sake of filling in. When the employees fill in the right data, the analytics of the data can be done immediately without any alteration and cleaning. But keying in the wrong data will cost a lot of repairing and might even lead to misinformed business decisions. By setting up restrictions on what certain people can do, a lot of mistakes can be prevented. This will reduce the room for error significantly.

Awareness of Safety Risks

Especially on dangerous sites such as during construction, in the heavy industry or offshore, it is important to train employees on awareness of risks. Not being sharp throughout day can lead to serious accidents when people are working in dangerous environment. Furthermore, it is important to train the people on how to observe and report unsafe situations. Employees have to understand that sharing this knowledge can help prevent certain situations during other shifts or other locations. When it comes to reporting again great automation solutions allow you to instantly file unsafe situations with your mobile phone. This lowers the barrier to file the report and increases the knowledge of these situations within the organization. When an unsafe situation does occur, make sure that the lessons learned are shared with the employees.

Conclusion

Please prepare a proper training system on how to make sure a new employee is aware of all the different common practices within your company. The time you put into this structured training will pay itself back in the long haul. Having the people working in a structured way will increase the consistency of the output they deliver which will increase safety of the workers and the quality of the product and services.

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How to Handle Risk Management.

An organization cannot exist without taking any risks. The question is, how to manage those risks to improve predictability and reduce the level of risk?

Don’t make risk management an expensive and time consuming project.

Too often risk management is seen as a time consuming exercise. I personally believe that this is unnecessary.  When we talk about strategic risk management, it is possible to have just one or two sessions of about 1.5 hours with the top management to list all the risks.

Focus on the top 10 risks

Make sure the focus is on the top 10 most important risks and don’t bother working on all the risks for the moment. It is important to assess the risks by next year, as by then you can focus on the other risks to the organization.

Align the company objectives with the risks

To accomplish this, start with the stakeholder analysis including the objectives of every stakeholder related to the company. This helps you focus on the important risks that have a direct effect on the stakeholders and the objectives.

Internal communication

It is very important that the employees support the risk management. In order to increase support it is essential to communicate the importance of the risks and that people understand why certain actions are taken.

Have a clear division of tasks

After all risks are registered it is important to assign owners to certain tasks, preferably people in higher management positions. They will then be responsible for the corrective and preventive actions taken to reduce the risk levels. The managers can give certain tasks to other employees but they are responsible for the risk.

Go further than only financial risks

Most companies have the financial risks in order due to the yearly check by an accountant. There are more than just direct financial risks for an organization. Make sure you also think about the broader picture than pure financial risks.

Use risk management as a guide for management

Risk management is much more than just listing all the risks. It is an instrument to help management get a good picture of the risks involved. Next to this, it is a great tool to perform and manage corrective and preventive actions based on these risks. Furthermore, it holds some great input for the yearly management and the actions give a good measure on how management performs.

 

This article has been written by Jantina van Rossum of iConact.

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Risk assessment done, now what?

Risk analysis has become a vital exercise for a lot of international standards. A large majority of certified companies are required to have a  risk assessment methodology and should be aware of the risks within their company and operations. Some companies have been creating this analysis with a lot of passion using all the knowledge they have. However, a lot of companies just perform the analysis for the certification and simply check it yearly or twice a year during an audit or management review. So how is it possible to make sure risks are really embedded in the company culture?

Risk Treatment Plan

A good way to start is by creating a Risk Treatment Plan. The purpose of a Risk Treatment Plan is to define exactly who is going to do what. You can also call this document an ‘Implementation Plan’ or ‘Action Plan’. It is crucial to get your management approval on the plan because it will take considerable time and effort (and money) to implement all of the actions. Furthermore, management approval also gives you the mandate to ensure things happen. Make sure you have clearly defined tasks for people to perform.

Issues

Next to the Plan, a great way to make the risk assessment more dynamic is by embedding it into the issue management or CAPA. When an issue has occurred, check the risk analysis and see if there is something mentioned about this specific issue. The issue could be a minor problem or a major problem, either way it is best to check the risk assessment. When the issue has some serious impact on the company, modify the risk assessment and add the risk. This way the company is able to use the risk analysis as a dynamic document that holds valuable lessons learned of the company.

Big Changes

When big changes happen within the company, you can use the risk assessment as guidance. Yes, companies should take risks to strive for a better future. But companies should make sure they take calculated risks. By embedding these big changes within the company’s risk assessment, the top management has a feeling of what could go wrong if no precautions are taken. This way, the top management can plan and prepare for the big change and manage it much better. The role of the quality manager is to ask the right questions for management.

Working environment

A big part of the risk assessment includes risks in the workplace. Of course the most obvious ones are included such as the risks with lifting machines and the other heavy-duty machinery, but the less obvious are the ones that can cause danger. The big risk comes when a routine of the work activity kicks in. When people are doing the same job every day and completely understand how to do it, less care is taken and something can be out of place. That is when the danger starts. Make sure that the employees that perform inherited dangerous tasks always perform a quick Risk assessment before they start to prevent any problems from happening. Having people sick at home is a great risk in and of itself. Next to the physical risks, psychological risks shouldn’t be neglected. The psychological risks of the stress heavy jobs should be monitored on a regular basis also.

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