A look at Effective Safety Management
Many attempts have been made in the past to determine the antecedents of Effective Safety Management. Although every attempt may add relative value, we still have not made consistent inroads into this often tricky area of organisational effectiveness. In finding an answer to this, we may search for an answer by embarking on two total extremes:
- the underlying reasons for poor safety performance are much more complex than what we imagine it to be,
- or we over-simplify the causes of incidents,
- or, it may be as a result of both extremes.
Let me explain.
It may be possible that mistakenly adopted an approach by many organisations, an approach that we can describe as the ‘one size fits all’ approach. The term has been extended to mean one style or procedure would fit in all related applications. Ask yourself how many of your codes of practice, procedures, training manuals and other documents are reincarnated via the C&P process (‘Copy and Paste’) process, is in existence? In many cases, final documents still carry the names of and reference to a previous mining shaft, company or even mining houses from other continents where a totally different mining code is applied. Even worse, no two organisations have the organisational cultures in place, and yet we apply similar management systems assuming that it would not have any influence.
Is the level of it between our Safety Management System and the inherent risks that we encounter of such nature that we will achieve incident-free production? You will never consider going on a big-five hunting expedition armed with your air rifle, why then arm yourself with a Safety Management System that is not really fit for your specific risks? Or equip yourself with the procedures developed at another mining company where very little safety expertise or safety success exists? Yet, we adopt systems and approaches and initiatives without considering any other aspects?
Our industry is characterised by its diversity in terms of its organisational cultural settings in a country with high emphasis on individual rights.
- Have you considered this when defining your Safety Management System?
- Do you know what your employees think about your Safety Management System, your safety values, your integrity and sincerity?
- Do you know whether you enjoy the support of your supervisors or is their commitment little more than a verbal commitment but not of much substance?
- Do your employees and different layers within your organisational hierarchy value your training and transfer of competencies as adequate?
- Or do you simply not regard it as of any importance whatsoever?
Time has come for all of us to clearly differentiate between what we know and what we think we know.
We willingly spend vast amounts of money to avoid legal consequences following an incident, but we are reluctant to invest in understanding how successful we are in terms of applying the most effective Safety Management System given the organizational setting in which we operate. In doing so, you may determine the level of fit between your approach and what is required to avoid incidents in the first place, but also to take your organisation to the very next step of performance.
Does your Organisation need Assistance?
Marius van Aardt and Associates are fully equipped to assist you in determining whether your current Safety Management System is indeed the best and most appropriate system, i.e. the best level of fit, given your organisational culture settings and whether your organisation has the safety leadership skills to take you to the next level of performance.