Having formal planning for safety walks, quality inspections or management walks, for that matter, is a great way of checking how things are done. The problem is in the planned part of it. Preplanning these activities and making them part of the QHSE culture is crucial; however, you should combine them with sheer random walks. When activities are planned, people will act accordingly. I mean, everybody knows what happens when the external audit is next week, right? Hence, performing random walks every so often will increase awareness and eventually strengthen the culture.
Having proper planning for when certain QHSE walks and checks will occur is great. Mostly, these are part of planning which is described in SOPs. This approach is excellent, but adding the random walks will give a great boost to the culture. These walks should be able to take place at any point during the day. Someone, preferably not the QHSE manager all the time, should be able to pick up a form and perform this walk and point out areas of improvement. In fact, it is crucial that it is not the QHSE manager, or someone from the QHSE department for that matter, all the time. Plant managers, production managers, operation managers. They should all pitch in to make the company operate better and increase the culture.
Obviously, the checklist during these walks should be easily accessible to everybody. The person performing the walk should find the checklist within a couple of clicks and make notes while doing the walk. Also, pictures should be added, and clear next steps should be defined when issues are noticed. The company should provide the tools to support this kind of reporting. Next to the technology part, asking the right questions in the checklist is also crucial. Clear, well written and concise questions make it easier for everyone to answer them. The ideal way is some kind of checkboxes or option lists for people to select from. This makes it much easier for people. When this is chosen, make sure there is an option for people to make comments at the end. These comments can hold valuable information, which includes more reasoning compared to just selecting an option.
In the end, performing these random walks should boost the QHSE culture; this is why we do them in the first place. The theory behind this is that people will always pay more attention because they have no idea when these walks will take place. This might seem like a “ruling by fear” approach but this is not the reason. The point is that because there could be a walk, people will get focusing on safety and quality deeply into their fibers so that it becomes second nature and they stop being aware of it. When this is reached, the level of quality and safety will significantly increase within the organization.
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