Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Any competent directors will want to comply with the law when managing SHE, but directors will also want to protect the reputation of themselves AND their business from the adverse publicity that a serious accident would bring. Directors and managers will want to avoid undue pressure arising from employees, trade unions and customers because of poor safety and health management and the stigma and other consequences of a prosecution such as criminal convictions, fines or even prison.

An effective safety and health management strategy is a principle component of a modern organisation’s corporate social responsibilities and ensures that the organisation doesn’t lag behind its’ competitors in its sector.

A great way of getting an overview of the management of SHE is to use Certainty Software software – Certainty Software allows for data entry from paper using optical character recognition (OCR) technology, browser or the Certainty Software app for smartphones and tablets. With Certainty Software, your audit and inspection data is instantly available for company-wide reporting and analysis. Certainty Software has an action management tool for tracking and closure of corrective actions identified in the audit process. Certainty Software is ideal for managing data and the corrective actions required from any audit or inspection process.

There is considerable evidence of the financial benefits to be gained from effective safety and health management such as:

  • Increased productivity when using safe operating procedures
  • Reduced insurance premiums
  • Less sickness-related absences and training costs for replacement staff
  • Better staff retention and morale

Avoiding the costs associated with poor safety and health management ensures that an organisations reputation and assets are protected. Factors which lead to poor corporate safety and health accountability include:

  • Failure of the board to take control
  • Rubber stamping of management decisions on safety and health issues
  • Lack of resources assigned to safety and health by the board
  • Failure to have competent safety and health advice available, either internally or externally
  • Failure to have adequate communication on important safety and health issues

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Business managers may see there’s a cost involved in implementing good HSE systems and there is. However, there’s an enormous cost of not doing it properly. Here at Certainty Software we’ve developed a powerful auditing and inspection tool that’s guaranteed to reduce the cost of managing HSE. This month we’re offering a FREE trial – so be sure to take a look at the blog post below for full details of our free offer. If you need help developing systems please let us know – we may be able to help you with that too, for FREE. Please don’t see health and safety purely as a regulatory burden. It offers significant opportunities and benefits. The benefits can include:

  • reduced costs
  • reduced risks
  • lower employee absence and turnover rates
  • fewer accidents
  • lessened threat of legal action
  • improved standing among suppliers and partners
  • better reputation for corporate responsibility among investors, customers and communities
  • increased productivity, because employees are healthier, happier and better motivated.

However, there are costs involved if health and safety at work is managed poorly too. HSE statistics reveal the human and financial cost of failing to address health and safety. Each year:

  • Millions of working days are lost due to work-related illness and injury.
  • Thousands of people die from occupational diseases
  • Around a million workers self-report suffering from a work-related illness
  • Several hundred thousand workers are injured at work
  • A worker is fatally injured almost every working day
  • Organisations can incur further costs – such as uninsured losses and loss of reputation

Not only can we help you reduce those costs, we can help you reduce the cost of managing HSE too. Get in touch with us to see how Certainty Software can help you implement and manage efficient HSE systems AND reduce the cost of doing business.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety management, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

At Certainty Software Software, we are proud of one very important thing. Our clients save an enormous amount of time and money using Certainty Software – our audit and inspection management software solution.

By automating the audit/inspection process with Certainty Software, our clients on average save over $4,000 and avoid more than 125 person hours of data entry, data management and report writing per site/location per year! In fact, we are so confident that Certainty Software will improve performance and save your company time and money that we would like to invite you to take the Certainty Software Challenge to see for yourself.

That’s right, try Certainty Software for FREE for 2 weeks and we will prove to you that you too can quickly and easily set a course to improve your auditing and inspection activities and save an enormous amount of time and money every year. If after your trial you think Certainty Software can save you time and money, simply convert your free trial to a subscription and all of your data will be preserved and the first 3 months are on us!

If you are not satisfied after your free trial,  no problem, no obligation, no risk, no charge.

Not sure? Check out the Kellogg – Certainty Software case study or see what our Certainty Software clients are saying on Capterra.

Maybe? Give it a try and see for yourself how like our Fortune 500 clients you too can improve the efficiency of your auditing and inspection activities while significantly reducing time and cost. Register to start a free trial now!

We look forward to showing you how your company too can save thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Mining… what can possibly go wrong?

The key purpose of this blog series is to help ‘cross-fertilise’ ideas and opinions from one industry sector to another. This week we’re looking at the mining sector and reflect on some of the challenges presented there. We found this great article in support of checklists and recommend you read it in full here,  – my point is you may recognise this point of view in your own business and the full article may well help you. We’ve summarised a key issue affecting the mining sector and raised by Check-6, here:

Knowledge is learned. And since humans are not perfect, failing plays a key role in the learning curve. Trial and error exercises, collaboration, brainstorming, and creative endeavours encourage and embrace failure, which conversely spawns progress.

However, there are industries where failure is not an option and procedural discipline is essential to save lives. Commercial and military aviation, nuclear power, and mining are such industries necessitating performance in high hazard environments. The mining industry should be heralded as such an industry but has, apparently, woefully fallen short.

During the extraction, processing, and manufacturing phases, critical tasks are routinely performed with the mentality of “I think” rather than “I know.” After judiciously learning from a procedures manual, miners have no doubt performed the same tasks a multitude of times with repeatable success. Still, people operate mining sites, processing and manufacturing plants: memories fail and moods swing – human factors can cause even the most experienced operator to have a lapse in judgment or decision making.

Supervisors and crewmembers who rely on experience to perform high-risk tasks, during normal operations and in emergency situations, often find themselves, knowingly or unknowingly, in the danger zone, far removed from the complexity of procedures manuals. It is during these moments that critical tasks become susceptible to errors that cause Lost Time Incidents (LTI), an increase in Total Reportable Incident Rates (TRIR), downtime, longer flat time, and increased Non-Productive Time (NPT)…

An organisation’s absolute best mechanism to prevent human error is to instil a checklist culture. Applied with rigor in various vertical industries such as medical, commercial aviation, and nuclear power, checklists have proven to be essential to the successful implementation of standards. There are many types of checklists based on styles that are in turn based on specific sets of circumstances and needs. However, keep in mind the tangible checklists so often energetically engaged as the end all are merely the beginning, as they are inanimate tools waiting to be implemented. The heartbeat of any mature checklist culture is disciplined human behaviour motivated by management’s ability to verify compliance that instils trust among colleagues.

Furthermore, trust is key as communal discipline allows supervisors and their subordinates to follow a standardised set of company-based procedures, written by boots-on-the-ground with real world experiences, rather than a chain-of-command hierarchy based on experience learned 20 years ago from a manual, or worse, the previous supervisor. Teamwork is a by-product of reliability and consistency. A checklist culture is a reliably consistent team of individuals who communicate with each other across the enterprise in familiar language and operate in near perfect rhythm to complete assigned tasks – precisely, safely, and calmly.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Checklists in action… ©Crown Copyright

Modern healthcare is an industrial process just like any other. Whether we like it or not, when we go into hospital for surgery we must submit to a process. Quite probably, dozens of individuals are going to get involved in our care. Some of those people will have direct continuous involvement in our care and others will have more peripheral roles – how do they all come together to provide a care package?

Ideally the key personnel or managers, typically the consultants and doctors, will be able to quickly get an informed overview of a patient’s status as they move between wards and individual patients. Nursing staff who change from one shift to another will be able to track what’s happened to a patient while they’ve been off-shift. That sort of data recording and transfer of information that’s required is only possible, I suggest, by using checklists.

So it was that when I recently went into hospital for urgent tests, and subsequently major surgery, I found myself taking a great interest in the type of checklists that my care team used. I had many opportunities to note the type, detail and regularity of the data recorded and the subsequent decisions that were made based upon the data recorded in those checklists.

I guess I was something of a bore for the hospital staff because I asked many of them how they went about their jobs, what tools they used and what helped them the most in their work. I even asked them if they’d read Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto – and none had!

What fascinated me most, when I wasn’t dwelling on my own physical problems, was how everyone functioned by using checklists – even the cleaners. However, when I asked, none of the people I spoke to cited the checklist itself as a valuable tool for their work. It’s not that they didn’t think they were important, it was just that their use was so ingrained, so second nature to them, that they didn’t think about them as a ‘tool’ at all. I think that was a function of the high standard of training.

It was reassuring to me, as a patient, to see nursing staff checking to see what had been done while they’d been off-shift. It was reassuring to see each shift change being managed in the same way with care staff gathered at the end of my bed discussing my status and immediate care needs. While it’s probably obvious in retrospect, I was amazed that they even recorded what I ate and, most significantly, when I said I didn’t want anything to eat at all.

I was confident, throughout my lengthy stay in hospital, that everyone knew what needed to be done, where to go to record data and where to find information about me if they needed it. I’m confident that the speed and nature of my recovery so far is due in no small part to the use of checklists.

I also suggest that the use of checklists gave the nursing staff the opportunity to ‘free up brain space’ and afforded them the time to use the softer skills of nursing such as listening and caring. Not only was I looked after physically, my medical team saved my life and I actually felt cared for – those feelings I have about my treatment might otherwise be described as customer satisfaction. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to understand how these benefits could be transferred into any industrial sector or process – even yours.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Instant, powerful and flexible reporting by site, business unit or corporate-wide

Do I really need this stupid checklist, Boss?

You may think that you don’t need to use checklists because you already know what to do or because you’ve done it a hundred times before. But even though you may have done so yourself or you’ve told other people what to do, it’s only human nature to make mistakes or to try and take short-cuts. Those mistakes or short-cuts could hurt your operations in many ways and cost you money.

We know it takes time to create and then use checklists properly, but when there is a repeatable set of procedures, the time saving over the longer term far outweighs any cost. If we don’t have a written checklist that is to be followed on every occasion, sooner or later you’ll suffer inconsistency, operational failure and poor customer service. That’s a fact.

When such failures do occur the root cause then exists between ignorance or ineptitude. Our ignorance is, arguably, forgivable when our mistakes are caused from a lack of knowledge. We cannot be expected to do better when we don’t know better. But ineptitude, however, is a different matter. With ineptitude, the knowledge clearly exists and we know it, yet we fail to apply that knowledge correctly.

This argument applies to everyone in any sector and it doesn’t matter if you’re an airline pilot, shop-floor worker, steel-worker or medical surgeon – the argument remains the same.

Checklists are designed to limit the impact of our ignorance or ineptitude. Ineptitude, like ignorance, is not a permanent attribute. It is a momentary state and can occur for many reasons, most importantly for very human reasons. The distractions, beliefs and stresses of modern life could almost excuse our ineptitude or ignorance, except for the real consequences of those mistakes.

If you still think that you don’t need checklist we’d love to hear from you!

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

No blog series on checklists can be complete without addressing the resistance that some (many?) people will have to using them. It’s one thing for you to be convinced of the merits of checklists, but if your colleagues don’t think they’re a clever idea, then you’re going to have a struggle on your hands.

We need to look at some of the most common excuses that people give, and it’s good to remember that some of those excuses will ALWAYS remain unspoken. Even if our checklist is clearly needed and well-designed so it meets that need, there can still be considerable resistance to its use.

Implementing innovative ideas is always challenging but you’re going to have to overcome all the objections to their use. In this blog, we discuss the most common objections, the first of which is “If anyone else knows how I do this task, I can be replaced.” This concern will rarely be voiced and will remain unspoken, so it’s important to understand that it’s probably the most powerful objection of them all.

It’s quite common in any organisation for an employee to worry that if they share too much knowledge or information, then they’ll lose status, influence or even their job. A special status goes with being the only one who knows how to do something. People can worry that if their job is seen to be easy when the checklist is introduced, then a cheaper person could do it with obvious implications for their own position.

In a situation where someone is having difficulty sharing their special knowledge, it can be good practice to reassure them that good employees aren’t easily replaced. Employees are usually valuable for more than one set of skills or knowledge. While it can be useful for them to develop knowledge in a substantive area, simply having that knowledge without any other features of a good employee will not protect their job.

If more people can be taught how to complete a task then that task can be accomplished no matter who is there to do it. This can free up the so-called ‘go-to’ person or others to do more challenging work that is perhaps more in line with their career ambition or interests. It can also help them to take time off or go on leave without worrying that their ‘in-tray’ will be a metre deep upon their return. Ultimately however, you’re going to have to explain that it’s unacceptable to maintain a situation where only one person knows how to do something or where only one person can know the status of a task or project. If the ‘go-to’ person can’t or won’t accept that, then it’s going to become a clash of wills that can only have one outcome. In which case, THEN they’re going to need to draw their own conclusions about their long-term prospects.

We’ll look at other objections in our following blogs, but in the meantime it’d be great if you would share your own experiences with us…

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Certainty Software Industry

‘Certainty Software’ can be used in any industry

Sure, there are some disadvantages to using checklists which we’ve touched on in the preceding blogs. But the far biggest obstacle to their successful implementation is the ‘expert’ who’s offended at the thought of ever needing a checklist. That ‘expert’ can be anyone in the organisation. The expert will give any number of reasons checklists are a waste of time but none of those reasons really stand up to scrutiny.

The use of a checklist WILL help improve efficiency by minimising mistakes. Checklists provide a written trail detailing what’s been done at every stage of a project. Checklists can be created and used on paper or online. They are as good for making time-critical decisions as they are for methodically going through a step-by-step procedure. They work equally well in any industry or field that requires a process— from hotel management, education, manufacturing and auto repair to the practice of medicine, aviation, oil, gas and the shipping industries.

The ideal checklist should be precise, efficient, easy to use in any situation and straight to the point. All the items on a good checklist should be actionable and grouped by category. You can get started easily and create a checklist quickly and simply yourself by using WORD or other software. In WORD, for example, you can create two kinds of checklists:

  • Lists with check boxes or check marks instead of bullets or numbers. Use boxes if you plan to print the list, for example, and check off each item you complete, or
  • Lists you can check off in Word. This involves adding a content control from the Developer tab, but you don’t need to be a developer to do it.

Just check out the Microsoft support page here:

If you’re still not sure if a checklist will improve the performance results of your current or future projects, just have a think about the different purposes they can have.

  • Step-by-step Procedures: Checklists that take a person through a complex procedure to minimise errors.
  • Verification and Inspection: Checklists allow someone to check that a task has been done correctly for inspection purposes.
  • Evaluation: Checklists allow the user to assess a person or a product. For example, whether someone is a good match for a job or whether a product has all the required components.
  • Troubleshooting: Checklists can be used for finding a technical or mechanical error when it lists ways to troubleshoot common problems.
  • Observation: Checklists delineate a set of possible behaviors an observer can check off when trying to understand an individual’s performance.

So, if you still think checklists don’t work or are a waste of time, please be sure to let us know and we’ll see if we can help persuade you otherwise.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

1 – Because everyone already knows what we need to do!

You may think that everyone knows that to do because they’ve done it a hundred times before. But even though we’ve told them what to do, people often don’t listen and frequently try and take short-cuts. Those short-cuts could hurt your operations in many ways and cost you money.  We know it takes time to create and then use checklists properly, but when there is a repeatable set of procedures, the time saving over the longer term far outweighs any cost. If we don’t have a written checklist that is to be followed on every occasion we’ll suffer inconsistency, operational failure and poor customer service. That’s a fact.

2 – Because the checklist is on scraps of paper

Dog-eared bits of old paper or ‘post-it’ notes stuck to desks just look awful so don’t expect them to be used! Checklists should be vital components in our businesses. They’re needed so you and your staff can provide a consistently repeatable service each time. When they’re used well, somebody who knows nothing about your business could undertake the task just by following your checklists – and that saves the business time and money.

3 – Because the checklist items have no time-frame

Performing a basic task such as sending a welcome letter to new clients a week after they’ve joined you, or maybe not if you don’t remember, is NOT a good advert for your business. Perhaps there are legal requirements in your industry to action certain items within specified time-frames. When creating checklists, work out exactly when each task needs to be done and set specific time-frames for completion. We suggest doing this by way of ‘offset’ rather than date. For example, on Day One a welcome letter is to be sent. On Day One plus 1, an email requesting the client’s account information is sent. On Day One plus 5, a chaser for any outstanding information is sent.

4 – Because the checklist has no reminders to act

It’s all very well having a checklist but if you forget to revisit it nothing is going to happen. Paper records and diary notes to chase something up just overwhelm people and are easily overlooked altogether. Set reminders, preferably using a tool like ‘Certainty Software’ that requires no action on your part to initiate the alert, for each task on your checklist to ensure it is done and on time.

5 – Because the checklist is incomplete

Tasks that should be completed in a sequenced process need to be recorded. Missing a crucial step because it wasn’t listed is inexcusable! Ensure every step is recorded and ensure your checklists are updated when you devise new or improved ways of managing processes.

6 – Because the checklist isn’t always completed

We all get distracted by email, phone calls or by personal callers. We usually don’t mean to fail to do something, but things do get missed and those missed tasks could be important. We tend to justify behaviours to ourselves with remarks like “in this case it doesn’t matter” or “the Client will understand” but we should never allow ourselves to miss items. For a business to work brilliantly you must be consistent. If you find yourself taking shortcuts, revisit the checklist and decide whether any of the items are not required. If they’re not needed then remove them. But if you can’t remove an item then clearly it is essential they are completed!

7 – Because the checklist gets ignored when too busy

Checklists must be aids rather than an inconvenience. We all get busy and shortcuts can get taken. If people think they can ‘get away with it’ or see something as unimportant they will very often try to ignore it. It’s important to make checklists a vital and essential part of a business. If checklists are time-savers and aids rather than ‘jobs to do’ in themselves, they will be embraced and make your business run much more smoothly.

8 – Because there’s no accountability for completing the checklist

If there’s nobody assigned to undertake any specific tasks on a checklist then there is no accountability for its completion. And then the task just doesn’t get completed! Everyone needs to know the extent of their responsibility and by using checklists as guidelines everyone understands their tasks and what to do. If there are tasks that must be completed by certain individuals then those jobs must be assigned to them and steps taken to ensure the completion of those tasks. If they’re not completed, the person responsible must know that they will be held to account.

9 – Because the checklist isn’t monitored

If nobody checks to ensure tasks are completed on time then the checklist is useless. An unused checklist is pointless. To ensure control, simply create an over-riding task to monitor each checklist (hourly, daily, weekly etc. – as may be appropriate for your business needs) and then follow up with anything that’s overdue or outstanding.

10 – Because the checklist is never reviewed to ensure its completed

Assumption is the Mother-of-all-Mistakes. If there are six tasks to be completed during the process of integrating a client into your business you’ll want to know that each step has been properly completed. Never assume that everything’s been done. Just assuming things have been done ‘because they’re on the checklist’ is a recipe for disaster. As a manager, you undoubtedly want to keep on top of what is going on in your business. So set aside time each day to check the progress of all checklists. Ensure anything that’s overdue or incomplete is investigated and sign off each checklist when it’s complete. For audit purposes, and to avoid doubt later, it’s a great idea to keep a record of when each task is completed and by whom.

Checklists are a vital element in systematising and streamlining your business… if you follow these 10 points you’ll find that your checklists do work after all!

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

We’ve talked about Atul Gawande before and his book ‘The Checklist Manifesto‘ and, at this early stage in our blog series on checklists, we think it’s worth hammering home some of the points he makes.

Boeing, NASA and other large organisations have entire teams dedicated to creating checklists. Fortunately, you can capture significant improvements using checklists even if you are working on your own. The following six step process is designed to help you create and use your first checklist. Once you become confident with the process, you can develop checklists for other important activities in your life and work (e.g. preparing for an international trip or launching a product).

One note of caution before we proceed. Resist the urge to create a complex checklist with dozens of steps. After all, a checklist only produces value if it is used. As with any other skill, it makes sense to walk before you run.

Step 1: Identify “Stupid Mistakes” That Cause Failure

Understanding the most significant causes of failure is the first step in creating a helpful checklist. For this blog post, I will use the example of creating a corporate financial report. Two of the common causes of failure are data source problems and model performance errors. Addressing these mistakes will form the focus of the checklist.

Step 2: Seek Additional Input From Others

With most types of work, there are other people in your organisation who either do similar work or who use the results of your work. Ask these people for their ideas on the common causes of failure or what they would suggest checking. I have found that many people are willing to offer some thoughts and observations, especially if they are impacted by your work.

Step 3: Create Simple “Do” Steps

‘Do’ steps are exactly what they sound like – reminders to do a specific action. In the case of a corporate financial report, you could check the structure and size of the data source files for validity, using previous reports as a baseline. Likewise, you can check data connections in the model to ensure that data is flowing through the model correctly.

Step 4: Create Simple “Talk” Steps

This step comes from Gawande’s example of a checklist in the operating room. In his example, he created a step on the checklist where everyone introduces them by name and role. In the project management context, ‘Talk’ steps are even more important. The ‘talk’ steps selected for the checklist are designed to prevent the major causes of failure. In the case of a financial report, one could schedule a short meeting with the stakeholders to review the draft report before it is approved for release.

Step 5: Test The Checklist

Following the above steps, you finally have the chance to put your checklist into action. Expect that your first checklist will have some gaps. Simply take note of those gaps and continue working through the process. In the example of producing a financial report, a gap might be to validate the currency and foreign exchange factors of the source files.

Step 6: Refine the Checklist

Based on your experience in Step 5, it is time to refine and improve the checklist. Continuous improvement is the name of the game in checklist development. As you improve the quality of your work with checklists, consider sharing your findings with other professionals.