Category Archives: safety

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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The Power of Near Miss

Near miss is still seen as a big burden by many people, and companies for that matter. The general feeling is still, “Nothing actually happened, so why should we report it?” Yes, nothing happened in the end, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t report it. Heinrich claimed that every 300 near-misses lead to about 29 minor accidents and 1 major one. There isn’t a consensus on the numbers, but it is reasonable to assume that a lot of near misses will inevitably lead to an accident. Hence, reporting and analyzing the near misses is crucial in improving the safety of the employees and preventing incidents from happening.

Prevention

Preventing incidents is so much better than dealing with them. Having an open culture where people are able to report unsafe behavior and situations is crucial. When people start reporting, the Safety Manager has a much easier job making improvements. Also, the Safety Manager gets a more focused approach because (s)he can make these improvements based on data. In order to facilitate, the company needs to have an easy way to report these near misses. Of course a mobile app is the best way to capture this data and allow people to take pictures of the situation. These pictures can then be used as examples in toolbox meetings or to classify the near misses even better for future trend analysis.

Balancing Act

Collecting near misses can be quite a balancing act. Some companies have KPIs on the total near misses reported by an employee. This can lead to simply reporting a near miss to reach the number. A better way is to look at the job people do and come up with an appropriate number based on the risks they face during the job. Activities in the workshop obviously lead to more near misses than office-related activities. Never use this number as a KPI but use it merely as guidance, and keep track of the number of near misses have been created. When there are over 50 employees in the field having 10 near misses a quarter, this means you are missing data.

Data for Improvement

All the data collected by these reports are a goldmine for the Safety Manager. Properly classifying these reports will lead to a great source of information for improving the safety culture. A near miss show the things that have almost gone wrong, so proper awareness training can be created based on these reports on an individual basis. On a more aggregate level, trends can be found in the data related to culture or maybe lack of training or communication. Besides the internal affairs, it becomes easier to track the performance of suppliers, customers or subcontractors. When near misses happen more often on a site of a certain customer, it is at least time for a good talk with their Safety Team. Including the near misses in the toolbox/safety meetings also give employees a sense that the company is really doing something with all the reports they create. A great way to strengthen the culture.

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What Really Matters in QHSE Management

My days as a QHSE Manager are long gone, now I am lucky to be able to help many more companies than I could ever imagine. Every day, we help companies to push much further than simple compliance. Quality, Safety, and Security are about so much more than just compliance. Yes, compliance is an important component, but a company can get so much more out of a proper working management system.

Safety Is Everything

Safety should come before anything else. You can simply not do anything when people get injured all the time. Eventually, you will be left with nobody to do the job. The business reasons aside, we have a duty to everybody to make sure people leave through the door the same way they arrived. This has nothing to do with compliance perse, but just good moral and business practices.

With this in mind, safety should be practical as well. We hire professionals or train people to become professionals. Please trust them a little bit. Only intervene when things are getting out of hand and try to grow a sense for people that are slacking.

Quality Is Everything

Quality is not just the product or service produced or delivered by the company. Quality is everywhere from the marketing material, packaging, employees, and customers to even the way you handle leaving customers. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the Quality should be great and the experience should be even better. Not everything will go according to plan, but make sure the customer is informed and knows what is going on. Try to make these bad experiences as painless as possible.

In essence, this has nothing to do with compliance to begin with, it is just good business. The Quality standards (ISO9001/IATF16949/IS13485) are merely guidelines. As a company, you should strive to do the best you can, regardless of the applicable standard.

Security Is Everything

In today’s highly connected world, digital security should be an incorporated part of the management system. Even if the company isn’t certified for any standard, it is crucial to take the necessary steps in order to prevent a breach. Ransomware costs billions every year and up to 8 billion dollars globally. Having a proper security program in place is critical, especially for non-IT companies. It still happens too often that people click on a link or PDF without knowing the sender.

Again, the 8 billion spent on Ransomware has nothing to do with compliance. You need to make sure the company is ready and resilient to these matters, whether you are certified or not.

Culture

The certification, whether it is ISO9001, ISO14001, ISO45001, or ISO27001, is merely a framework. In the end, almost all the compliance topics boils down to culture. Some people might say, “It is not important” or “Don’t bother me with this”—but they don’t really get it. As a Quality/Safety/Compliance manager it is your duty to make them see the importance. It is not your job to do all the tedious tasks, those should be done by the responsible person. You should guide them, train them, and make them aware. A culture is created by everybody in the organization and the stakeholders close it. But it is your job to make Safety, Quality, and Security a part of the culture.

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Workshop: Time Pressure and the Effect on Quality & Safety

On Wednesday 22 May, we organized a workshop on time pressure and the effect on quality and safety. Time pressure can have a major impact on quality and safety, which can lead to serious accidents. In most cases where odd jobs have to be completed quickly, there is stress, as a result of which employees no longer think clearly and end up in unsafe situations. 

How can we teach people to deal with time pressure and not to start with an unsafe situation? This happens in all industries, whether you work in construction or in a production company. The business must run, but not at all costs. In this post I will give you a good overview of the topics discussed. 

What Is Time Pressure?

Time pressure can arise during work when a large or too complex job has to be done within a certain time frame. For example, a person might feel under pressure if the demands of their job (such as hours or responsibilities) are greater than they can comfortably manage. Time pressure is a part (or cause) of work-related stress. This often results in accidents, absenteeism, or quality problems.

How Time Pressure Is Related to Accidents

Time pressure is often the cause of accidents in the workplace. A number of common examples of how time pressure can lead to accidents are: 

  • The production must be finished in time in order to achieve the quality objectives and to keep top management satisfied. 
  • Wrong materials that are not intended for this purpose are used to complete a job on time. 
  • Signals about unsafe working are not picked up with the associated risks. 

The Importance of a Safety Culture

To deal with time pressure, it’s crucial to have an overall safety culture in place. Employees must have a shared vision when it comes to safety. Make sure to create an environment in which safety topics are negotiable. It’s key that all employees have faith in each other at all levels of the organization, in particular, top management. Teach me how to build a safety culture in 6 easy steps.  Also, make sure people feel comfortable enough to speak out when they feel stressed. This openness is an absolute must if the company wants to reduce stress. 

Furthermore, it is important that management provides funds for these topics. The safety department needs time and money to come up with improvement plans when things go wrong, or rather, before things go wrong. It is always cheaper to prevent than to cure.

Collaborate

Good collaboration between contractors and clients is crucial to prevent time pressure. The following points apply to both contractors and clients: 

  1. Take enough time to take up an assignment; don’t create your own pitfall!

2.     Make clear agreements about safety (what are your rights and obligations?).

3.     It’s better to ask too many difficult questions than get one after an incident!

4.     Investigate each incident together in detail.

Celebrate 

Last but not least, celebrating success is vital. Reward employees for reporting incidents to encourage reporting rather than hiding issues. Therefore, start by celebrating achievements, such as a successful intervention or a toolbox meeting, to help promote long-term success. Also try to avoid sanctions, but be satisfied as long as your employees want to learn from their mistakes. 

The workshop was full of practical examples, so that those present could easily relate to the situation. In addition, the presentation contained useful tips to prevent time pressure and the consequences that you may have if you do not. Thanks again to Gerard Beijkirck for sharing his experience and giving the presentation!

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Bring your quality & safety inspections to the next level

Filling out paper forms is very time-consuming. No one enjoys it, especially when it means a lot of extra work after forms are filled in. Usually the forms have to be checked and re-entered to the quality management system, which means hours of additional work every week—for nothing. Using pre-configured and custom mobile forms, your company can easily save hours of valuable time per inspection.

Analysis

It’s hard to monitor progress or draw conclusions from a stack of papers. Manually entering data into a spreadsheet or other document and creating reports is time-consuming and carries the potential for human errors, including inaccurate or omitted information.

On the other hand, digital forms are automatically uploaded into your quality management system, where it is compared to existing data. From there it’s easy to track progress, setbacks, health and safety concerns, and other significant events, allowing quality inspectors to easily create impactful reports.

Incident Reports

Digitizing the management system means that on average 30% more incident reports come in. The ease of use lowers the barriers because it makes it easy for employees to fill in digital forms during their inspection walks on their phone or tablet. Besides that, they also have the possibility to attach a picture with a description of the non-conformity. All these processes have been simplified so that incidents are actually reported.

Take Action

After you’ve collected data and identified a potential problem, it’s time to take action. Plan your corrective and preventive action in a proper manner and make them actionable. By directly assigning the action to the responsible person, it becomes much easier to manage the action that resulted from the inspection. With an online quality management platform you can easily track progress on the tasks and analyze their effectiveness.

Qooling

With Qooling, paper quality and safety inspections are history. The online solution offersyou a simple way to digitize your quality and safety inspections and reduce the dailyworkload. Log in from any location and have real-time insight into the work of your team, anytime and everywhere. Try it today!

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Impact of mental health in Safety Management

Sadly, at any given time, approximately 1 in 5 workers is likely to be experiencing a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. This is estimated to cost the global economy $16 trillion by 2030. The enormous economic cost is primarily due to the early onset of mental illness and lost productivity, with an estimated 12 billion working days lost due to mental illness every year. Unfortunately, we see too little emphasis on this from an OHS or HSE point of view.

Business performance can be impacted significantly when business managers or their workers, costing businesses time and money through days off work or not working at full capacity, experience mental health conditions. Relationship with stakeholders, other workers, or family members may also be damaged. Mental health problems have a serious impact on the way someone performs his/her daily activities.

Prevention and effective management of mental health conditions in the workplace can reduce the social and financial impact significantly. As a manager, there should be nothing better than knowing that your staff are healthy and happy. The interaction between work-related and personal related stress makes it pretty hard to find the right way to deal with it. However, the fact that it isn’t easy shouldn’t be the reason why the company doesn’t try. Having a great coach or psychologist ready to help out will be a great way to start.

Safety Solution

Implementing a strong occupational health and safety management system is also another way organizations can reduce accidents and mental health conditions. In order to make mental health an important part of the OHS management system, it should be mentioned in the policies and other key values. We still see that most companies don’t even touch upon this topic from an OHS point of view. Yes, we all have KPI like days without injury but mental health incidents are hardly part of this KPI. Start incorporating mental health issues as well as a KPI. You have to do this carefully, of course, with all the personal information—but it gives a clear message on how serious the company takes this.

Safe Workplace

Start with creating a safe workplace with effective processes—a OHS management platform can help you create. By implementing a safety management system, you can easily put processes in place to ensure your employee’s mental health needs are being addressed as well. It can be a great benefit to train people to realize when they feel stressed and what to do when they are. Give them access to help when needed to make them feel accepted, rather than hiding it away.

Conclusion

Somebody’s mental health is just as important as your physical health and safety in the context of overall health and wellbeing. Make sure the company start to take it as seriously as any other part of the human body and make it part of the OHS Management system.

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The Truth about QMS platforms vs. alternatives

It remains a bottleneck for many companies—do we opt for a quality management system or do we prefer one of the many alternatives? All solutions have their strengths, but they aren’t always the right solution to stay compliant and get the most out of your quality management. To give you a better insight into the bad and good sides of these solutions, we will shortly discuss the most common alternatives. 

Paper-Based Systems (Supported by Excel/Word)

Many companies still have a paper-based QMS system in combination with Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Office files to keep track of their documentation. The problem in a paper-based system is that companies constantly battle to make sure they are up-to-date with the latest procedures, copies, and more. Such systems require a lot of maintenance and are time-consuming to administer, which does not favor the benefits of a certificate. This approach also has a lot of time-consuming activities such as keying over the information from paper to Excel sheets. This not only costs a lot of time but also introduces lots of errors.

ERP Solutions

The use of ERP “solutions” for QMS has the potential to minimize the number of IT systems and offers “special” modules for certain aspects within QHSE compliance management. However, the fact is these systems are not built to be used as a compliance platform and certainly do not favor the functionality, flexibility, and support of a specialist system. These solutions can work for you, but they come at a cost of missing features and functionalities.

In-House Development

Of course, it is possible to develop a complete management system in-house. Choosing this route is usually the most expensive one. Not only does it cost scarce resources of developers, but it also requires a lot of input from operations. The developers have no idea what to develop. This needs to be analyzed and clarified by the people in the operations. When they help out, they cannot do their own job so the cost gets doubled. An other downside is the requirements of updates. Every time something needs to change the developers need to be available. This will lead to some serious costs to the company.

Specialized QMS System

A specialized QMS system such as Qooling provides the right tools to improve your business so that you can make decisions based on data from within your organization. These platforms are continuously improved based on feedback from customers and other specialists in the field. The updates are part of the package and don’t require additional costs. The fact that these platforms are built for compliance only, means that all the features are present and all aspects from different standards are embedded. The other big plus is that they run out of the box, which leads to an implementation time of weeks, not quarters or even years.

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How to identify ROI for an QMS

It isn’t an unreasonable question for anyone to ask, especially if you are going to ask them to spend money on quality. If you want your business to invest in a quality management platform, you should have some idea of what the costs currently are and how long it takes before you earn back your investment. 

‘’60 percent of organizations don’t know or don’t measure their financial impact of quality’’

Measuring ROI on QMS

There are countless benefits of implementing a quality management platform. Some can easily be measured, while others are more intangible and take place over time. However, the most important fact is that quality management platform can significantly improve the efficiency and consistency within your organization, resulting in improved overall quality. 

To help you understand the ROI on quality management platform, I’ll give you some key success metrics that you can use to track your improvement. 

Paperless Workplace

Manual or cumbersome processes take up resources and slow down productivity. No matter if this is in man-hours or administrative work, this is time spent on the system, rather than the business. A lot of time can be saved in the preparation of paper forms and documents. This could be incidents, work orders, work instructions, toolbox meetings, and so on. 

Greater Client Satisfaction

Quality management platform improves response and customer satisfaction while ensuring that customer reported quality issues are always properly documented and effectively resolve. The possibility of losing a customer based on the problems is very hard to measure but we all know when we screw up too often we will get burned. Having a clear overview of these issues, big or small, will help you get a better feeling of the likelihood of this happening.

Up-To-Date

Keeping employees up-to-date with the latest processes, procedures, and other documents is not only very labor intensive; it is also prone to mistakes. Forgetting to train somebody can lead to serious costs when old formats are used or processes followed. This could lead to missing out on a deal or even losing a customer.

Increased Productivity

The real hard ROI can be measured on time saved. Here also lies quite a number of challenges. Most companies have no idea how many hours are lost with an unstructured management system. Companies don’t track the hours people spend on searching for documents to use or training on new procedures. These are seen as the normal costs of running a business. However, saving on these activities directly impacts the bottom line of the company and therefore can have a significant impact. Try to find a reasonable amount of hours people spend searching for documents within your organization in order to benchmark.

Real Time Insight

A manual or Microsoft Office based management system lacks the real time insight. Data needs to be structured from a Word document to an Excel sheet in order to do some kind of analysis. Besides the time it takes, mistakes are also made. When the data is used and input for business decisions, this means that they are made on the wrong data. Every time data needs to be keyed over to other documents, mistakes are introduced. Make sure you have a single source of truth that can be analyzed in real time.

Get Started 

If you’re at the point where you are ready to find the right quality management system for your business, we can help you. Through a short phone call, our product specialist will look at the problems you are currently experiencing, and will advise you with choosing the right solution that fits your needs. Get started today!

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The impact of Quality and Safety Management on Project Profitability

Quality and safety are key topics in a number of projects. It already starts during the tender phase. Companies need to prove they have a functional QMS and a proper safety culture. Most companies prove this by showing their portfolio of certificates in combination with their “days without injury” metric. These are all general pieces of information and are used mainly to win the project. However, during the execution of the project, these topics should still get the priority, as they need to check if the company ended up making money at all.

Costs of Quality

Things always go wrong when you try to create something new and that is a good thing. However, it is crucial to register the issues that do occur during the project to be able to have a reality check on the margins. Whenever a supplier arrives late and your team needs to wait or when the wrong materials were delivered, always register the issue. Also, when a part needs to be repaired due to a mistake, register the hours. It is crucial to have this data and take actions to solve them, but never blame the employees because of it. Costs involved in mistakes can be significant and even eat away a lot of the margins. This can be crucial to success, especially in industries with low margins to begin with, like constructions. Hence, register the issues to be able to calculate the margins correctly.

Costs of Safety

Incidents have quite the impact on everybody involved. Even though the injury can be minor, it is always a wake up call of the risks involved in the job. Hence, issues with injuries or even sick days should also be registered. The company should learn from these risky situations and try to avoid them in the future. On the other end, the safety issue can have a big impact on the project. Deadlines might be missed due to the person not being there and morale might be impacted due to the injuries. Putting exact costs on these injuries isn’t easy, but you can always make an estimation.

Project Profitability

As noted above, quality and safety can have a significant impact on the margins of a project. This isn’t an exact science, but adding up all the costs and including some administration costs for handling the issues will give a great idea of the additional costs made to get the project done. These costs were never taken into consideration during the tender phase. Reducing these costs in future projects allows the company to potentially make a healthy profit. These profits can then be used, for example, to reduce the price of the project that gives the company a better position during the tender phase. Looked at it this way, it means that quality and safety becomes an even bigger competitive edge than just having the certificates on the wall.

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