Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

If you’ve read ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande you’ll know the amazing effect that the World Health Organisation had by introducing a simple checklist into hospital surgery routines. The surgery infection rates and mortality dropped hugely in those hospitals that were selected for a pilot programme…and now that simple list has been adopted worldwide.  You can imagine the benefit that the regular use of a simple checklist – and the emphasis is on ‘simple’ – could have on reducing deaths caused by the improper handling of food. To determine the effectiveness of checklists, Atul Gawande looked at the airline industry in particular, but also looked at many others. In the course of his study he came across the scepticsm that often meets our efforts to introduce checklists. The bottom line is, that folk sometimes think they’re just too damned smart to need to be reminded what to do by an ‘idiot’s guide’ – and that’s just the senior people – but this is a misguided belief. Not only is much human misery and suffering reduced by the use of checklists but the financial costs of those avoidable injuries are really significant too – the food industry would be a whole lot better off in every way, if they routinely adopted checklists.

In Atul Gawande’s study, when the checklists were introduced, it made no difference if the hospital was in London, Detroit, Delhi or ‘Whupwhup’. Simple steps like ‘pausing’ to allow the checklist to be read, or the surgical teams simply to introduce themselves to one another, had amazing results in terms of saved lives. Of course, the book is full of anecdotes on how all our lives are routinely protected by the use of such checklists. Have you noticed how every time you board a plane and listen to the pre-flight safety briefing it is the same. It doesn’t matter which airline or in which country you’re flying from, they’re the same…. but imagine the lives that could be saved if those handling our food adopted the same routines… an idiot’s guide? No, they’re life changing and life saving…

I can’t think of any industry or sector of society that wouldn’t benefit from the intelligent adoption of checklists. Like anything else, they need reviewing, revising and to be kept up to date. But the benefits far outweigh the costs, such as they are. If you want to know how much money the use of a simple checklist could save you – get in touch with us and we’ll show you. But in the meantime take some time to read ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

The full article on food safety in South Africa can be seen here, but given our interest in South Africa we thought this worth blogging about – Management commitment, reviews and internal audits are really important to food safety. The auditing process and the review of the results along with data from other sources of information about your food safety systems such as customer complaints, non-conformances recently raised, corrective actions, results from laboratory testing, etc.. can be used to identify where action is required and what to do to ensure that the food produced is safe.

Often there’s a need for improvement, which in turn relates to the fact that resources be they financial or human, need to be allocated to the implementation and maintenance of food safety systems in order for them to remain effective. Management needs to be financially committed to the Food Safety Systems implemented.

In the food industry we often hear comments such as ‘…does any one know from experience how we can operate smoothly without spending still more money’ – What the article’s author is saying is, that without spending money there’s no pest control service, no micro-testing, no time for training staff, no records from cleaning contractor and the list goes on…Management commitment is absolutely fundamental. Food safety can’t just be the responsibility of the quality department, it doesn’t work. Effective training is needed across the entire organization. The whole food safety system hinges on effective management at each level in an organization. If top management has the right exposure and training in food safety they’re more likely to be committed to their Food Safety Systems – and THAT will reduce costs.

We know that Certainty Software can’t eliminate the costs of managing Food Safety Systems but it certainly does reduce the cost – we know that and we can prove it. Get in touch and let’s show you how.

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Well, it may be a stock photo and only an illustration but the inspector in this article’s photo is managing her audit the old fashioned way – surely auditors in the foods sector are using more sophisticated tools these days? (like Certainty Software, funnily enough!). But joking aside, it’s obviously a serious problem – and while we’d like inspectors to be using our product to get a really good management overview across multiple sites – we’d encourage them to use ANY tools to try and make good on this problem.

It’s clear that operators aren’t managing to police themselves either, so there’s obviously an urgent demand to get to grips with the problem. But the use of data management tools (like Certainty Software!) really does slash the cost of inspections and they are extremely affordable – there’s no excuse for doing nothing…doing nothing clearly costs firms as well as the wider economy an awful lot more…

Simon BeechinorInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Please don’t yawn, but this post refers to OHSA’s  10 easy ways to get started on your safety and health program. Implementing these ideas WILL TAKE COST OUT of your business. Like all these things however we strongly suggest applying a robust management program to these ideas so you can control implementation and monitor the effectiveness of what you’re doing. All the great ideas in the world are pretty useless unless you’re monitoring the effectiveness of what you’re doing…

Simon BeechinorSafety managementLeave a Comment

A safe workplace is sound business – and a great place to look at reducing operating costs is to scrutinize your ‘safety’ in the workplace. OSHA has recently updated the Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs it first released 30 years ago, to reflect changes in the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The new Recommended Practices have been well received by a wide variety of stakeholders and are designed to be used in a wide variety of small and medium-sized business settings. The Recommended Practices present a step-by-step approach to implementing a safety and health program, built around seven core elements that make up a successful program.

The main goal of safety and health programs is to prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths, as well as the suffering and financial hardship these events can cause for workers, their families, and employers. The recommended practices use a proactive approach to managing workplace safety and health. Traditional approaches are often reactive –that is, problems are addressed only after a worker is injured or becomes sick, a new standard or regulation is published, or an outside inspection finds a problem that must be fixed. These recommended practices recognize that finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness is a far more effective approach.

The idea is to begin with a basic program and simple goals and grow from there. If you focus on achieving goals, monitoring performance, and evaluating outcomes, your workplace can progress along the path to higher levels of safety and health achievement.

Employers will find that implementing these recommended practices also brings other benefits. Safety and health programs help businesses:

  1. Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
  2. Improve compliance with laws and regulations
  3. Reduce costs, including significant reductions in workers’ compensation premiums
  4. Engage workers
  5. Enhance their social responsibility goals
  6. Increase productivity and enhance overall business operations

We’ll be talking about the above points in the coming weeks and offering some simple and cost effective ideas to helping you implement these practices…

Hewitt RobertsInspection management, Safety data, Safety management, Uncategorized3 Comments

Since the inception of behavioral based safety (BBS) in the early 1970’s, many thousands of companies worldwide have implemented BBS programs as a means to reduce injuries, illnesses, human suffering and ultimately cost. However, like many other business performance improvement movements both prior to and since then, the success of BBS has had mixed results to say the least.

Although the BBS model has evolved over the years in its pursuit of improved results, for many the implementation of a behavioral based safety program has been unsuccessful and led to negative conclusions:

  • BBS is expensive and long term results are not as expected;
  • BBS doesn’t produce lasting results;
  • BBS doesn’t include and unfairly blames workers;
  • BBS focuses on the wrong things;
  • BBS leads to an under reporting of accidents; and,
  • BBS fails to prioritize the important elements of a quality safety program.

However, digging deeper and looking past the failed BBS case studies and naysayers, there have in certain circumstances been phenomenal and encouraging results:

  • The implementation of a BBS program at one of the facilities of a global automobile manufacturing company with 476 employees reduced their average lost time from 11 days/month to 1.5 days/month;
  • The BBS process at an international company with 20,000 employees produced savings of approximately $1,000 per employee in a year; and,
  • A recent study on the business case for investing in a healthy workplace found that the cost-benefit ratio for behavioral safety ranged from $1.50 to $6.15 for every dollar invested.

Why then, when there is so much potential for enormous returns and improved performance through BBS, is it that some BBS programs succeed so remarkably while other fail so badly?

Like most things that involve people, organizational behavior and corporate culture, the answer to this conundrum may be found by simply asking oneself ‘what precisely is BBS and how does it work’?

According to the Cambridge Centre for Behavioral Research:

BBS is the application of behavioral research on human performance to the problems of safety in the workplace; and,
A successful BBS program must employ the science of behavioral analytics (or the science of behavioral change) to improve workplace safety.

Consequently, a successful BBS program must (by definition) include:

Behaviorally specific desirable performance;
The measurement of safety performance; and,
The changing of behavior through feedback – usually immediate.

If we were to look back at the failed BBS case studies, my bet is that you will see a woefully common trend – that in the vast majority of cases of BBS failure, the company in question lacked one or more of these three key ingredients of success.

So, before you start and as you try to implement or improve your BBS program, ask yourself the following:

Has your company clearly defined and communicated the behaviorally specific performance that is desired?
Does your company have the means to measure (e.g. the data necessary to analyze and report) ongoing safety performance?
Does your company have the means (including organizational culture, management systems & commitment) to provide meaningful, relevant and immediate feedback about behavior and performance that must change?

If you can answer yes to ALL three of these questions, then there is no reason whatsoever that your company can’t also implement a successful BBS program and like many others also produce significant improvements in safety performance while simultaneously reducing workplace injury and illness from a BBS program that pays for itself many times over in the years to come.

Hewitt RobertsInspection management, Safety data, Safety managementLeave a Comment

Whether you are a Fortune 500 multinational or a small, family-owned business, safety management is a complex, data driven activity involving teams of people working together from all corners of a business. Thinking you can run a successful business – large or small – without a safety management software solution is like trying to successfully manage that same business without a functional financial or HR management software system – implausible.

For safety management to be truly effective it must be based on the tenets of continuous improvement and include the collection, management, comparison and reporting of performance indicators regularly and across your entire business.

With safety management, these indicators are typically leading, lagging or both and are the metrics used to measure safety performance in your workplace. As recently outlined by the Campbell Institute, choosing the right safety indicators is a considered process and depends on your own circumstances. For indicators to be effective they should meet certain criteria – see also Elevating EHS Leading Indicators: From Defining to Designing.

Whether you choose use lagging indicators (post facto, better than none) or leading indicators (forward looking, preventative and preferable) to manage performance, one thing is certain – to truly manage safety performance well, you will need to manage a lot of safety data. Remember, knowledge is power (Francis Bacon. 1581).

Unless you have the software tools to facilitate the collection, management and reporting of a lot of safety data, you will not have the metrics needed to easily and effectively communicate performance, define priorities and benchmark success.

So, just as the use of performance indicators is a key component of a functional safety management system, so too is a software solution that enables you and your team to easily and effectively collect, compare, report and manage safety data to provide meaningful feedback, trend analysis and comparisons for continuous improvement.

Looking to improve safety data collection & management? Contact us today.

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Hewitt RobertsInspection management1 Comment

When it comes to managing safety performance through the use of safety data, garbage in equals garbage out (GIGO) and no amount of inconsistent, nonsensical or incomparable safety data can help you manage safety performance comprehensively and effectively.

That’s because a functional, responsive and continuously improving safety culture and safety management system relies on the collection and use of consistent, comparable and meaningful safety data.

Whether your company uses leading indicators (e.g. number of employees trained, behavioral observations completed, near misses reported), lagging indicators (Lost Time Hours, the number of Workers Compensation Board or Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports filed) or both, unless the safety data you collect is consistent and comparable across your business you will be challenged – at best – to prioritize, plan and implement practices that will in fact improve safety performance in the long run.

Consequently, safety performance improvement programs must be driven by two key factors. First, ensure you collect data that is consistent and a key step to consistency is the use of standard, company-wide checklists and inspections to collect data for indicators such as:

Behavioral based observations
Near misses
Lost time
Reportable incidents and injuries

Next, if you are able to implement the tools needed to collect data consistently, the second ingredient of success is to ensure you can meaningfully compare the data collected to ensure that your safety management program is driven by the real safety priorities in your business and at the very least be sure you have the capability to compare safety data:

by leading and/or lagging safety indicator
by location, site, department or product line
by activity, task, shift, etc., and of course …
across your entire business.

If you are able to collect and compare meaningful safety data across your business, you will most certainly avoid spending GIGO Whats of energy trying to improve and will have set the foundation for a functional, responsive and continuously improving safety culture across your entire business.

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