There's an old saying: "If you don't know where you're going - any road will take you there."
In order to manage safety or any other process at your organization, management must have a defined goal and a way to determine if it's reaching that goal. In the safety context, there must be a set of defined standards or expectations and a system in place for monitoring the implementation and performance of management systems against those standards or expectations. The next two installments in this series will discuss how to achieve this.
The Importance of the Safety Audit
Management often assumes that all they have to do is: 1. ensure that there are "written" policies or procedures in place; and 2. train staff about what those policies and procedures are. The assumption is that if everybody knows the procedures, compliance will be automatic. But as experience has shown time and time again, this is a flawed assumption.
To manage any aspect of an organization's activity the manager must have targets and a regular flow of feedback and information about performance. In the realm of safety management, performance feedback comes from different pro-active monitoring activities. Among these, the safety audit is paramount in terms of objectivity and accuracy.
How Often Should Audits Be Performed?
The answer to this question will depend on management policy. Some of the different approaches:
- Some companies audit on an annual basis and use a scoring system to monitor improvements.
- Other companies consider a full safety audit necessary only once every five years.
- At still other companies, the timing of future audits is decided by weighing the benefits gained against the more frequent checks of compliance offered by an inspection program following the initial audit.
- Some companies prefer to carry out integrated audits, which include not only safety but also environment, quality and other business improvement processes. These audits can only be conducted using the integrated approach when the management systems have already been integrated.
What Comes After the Audit?
The audit process culminates in the creation of a written report. This is followed by the development of an action plan agreed upon with local management. The implementation of the action plan must be monitored.
All audits should be pre-planned and a documented checklist of the audit content prepared. Next week, in the final installment of this series, I'll describe an example based on the new Canadian standard CSA Z1000-6.
THE TECHNOLOGY OF SAFETY
Heat Stress Monitors
By Susan Aluise, National News Syndicate
Here's a look at the different kinds of heat stress monitors on the market, their characteristics and how much they cost.
|Susan Aluise, a freelance journalist specializing in technology, is the head of National News Syndicate.