Should we focus on quality or quantity?
To quote an Executive Manager, well know to Generative HSE, 'We are kidding ourselves if we think we have made this place any safer by allowing our Health, Safety and Environment Management System to grow to over 6000 safety procedures. We are even more deluded if we think people are following all 6000 of these procedures.' I think we're all familiar with the situation. It seems that in our attempts to develop robust safety management systems and 'make good' particularly after incidents, workplaces drown in documentation. In the end we add to the growing reality gap between the way work is envisaged and the way its done in reality.
So what's the answer? We know it's not more paperwork. It's about generative safety where safety is an intrinsic part of everything we do.
World class safety systems have the following in common:
- Strong leadership - management leads by example, engages employees and safety is on par with business performance
- Integrated systems - industry standards and international guidelines are embedded across all systems and processes across functions, structures, geographies and contractors
- Performance measurement - Lead and lag indicators are used to promote and monitor continuous improvement. Safety data is collated, analysed and key findings are effectively communicated and incorporated into better safety practices.
- Organisational alignment - Safety is aligned and captured within all strategic planning and budgeting activities
- Corporate citizenship - Safety is expected outside of the workplace
With respect to paperwork, it's about having a strong overarching safety policy that everything falls under. There are a few critical safety documents and some are necessary, particularly those that relate to risk assessment processes and the management of critical risks. Safety should be incorporated into every standard operating procedure and not pulled aside within separate documents.
If we strive for world class safety and get the foundations right, then there should be absolutely no need for reams of safety related documentation. Quality will most certainly offer the best results...and even save you some time.
Maybe a good place to start is to ask people who are doing the work "what is adding value and what could be streamlined?" You'll be amazed at the wealth of knowledge that resides in those who do the work everyday and have successfully navigated how to undertake work when its difficult to do.