Many safety management systems today are ill-defined and have the remnants of changes and additions of successive managers over time. As a team changes and the views of its members differ documents are often added to provide comfort to leadership along the way. The result is a variety of similar processes in an ever increasing library of documentation.
This is safety clutter.
It takes time and consensus to reduce clutter. You need a commitment to do so as it takes effort to create the will and motivate the stakeholders. Senior operational leaders may be across many of the processes as they were involved in their development years ago. Safety professionals may be reluctant to rewrite existing documents as there appears to be no time and they are already busy keeping up with their work. There can also be a view that written process is a guaranteed defence in court should something go terribly wrong.
Time to step back.
The traditional approach has been to create a manual and then, as online systems become available, separate a manual into its various parts as online items in a library. As document management systems have become more accessible training has focused on the use of the library and a culture of compliance around signing off on documents may become the norm. People get very good at using online systems yet do not always read or use the documents within the system.
In fact even when online, it is not unusual for a safety management system to be kept separate from the other functions which are and as a result this segregation reduces ownership and system agility whilst duplicating effort.
By working together with the right software, a leader is guided by the system, there is no choice as the system delivers the data to the appropriate person, within the necessary time frames, to enable the next step to occur. This drives consistency enables easy review and, in a medium sized business, can be the equivalent of a full-time employee saved.
Every safety management system should have an owner and that owner needs to document what is necessary, adds value and meets the needs of the workforce to enable work to be carried out safely. The online platform should be considered part of the ‘safety management system’ and the inherent requirements of using the system need to be aligned with the requirements of your safety management system; do not duplicate this work!
Consider the removal or rewriting of the documents and processes as an objective for the year ahead. If you are using various platforms, including excel, to capture data around safety consider talking to experts in this area who can provide guide to you and your business around safety governance. C-Suite Safety Solutions is able to assist you with this.
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