Another Groundhog Day has come and gone. Or has it?
In the movie Groundhog Day, weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is forced to relive the same day, over and over again, no matter how he tries to change the outcome. The Environmental, Health and Safety Newsletter recently compared the latest release of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries with previous years and observed a similar phenomenon.
The article notes, “The latest census is remarkably consistent with the previous reports. People continue to die in numbers, proportions and circumstances much as they did the year before, and the year before that and the year before that. There are a lot of Groundhog Days in how we’re getting killed on the job.” Even worse is the fact that these factors are no secret. “The same hazards keep killing workers,” the article continues. “What’s most likely to kill someone is not a trick question. It’s an open-book exam.”
If something as critical as lowering workplace deaths can get trapped in an endless cycle of no progress, it shows just how immovable some of these challenges can be. Lack of desire or effort isn’t always to blame.
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We all want reassurance that the work we do matters—that we’re contributing in a way that matters. Author, consultant, and speaker Norman Marks, in a blog post titled Internal audit needs to perform in a way that matters to the board and top management, puts forth a series of questions that prompt those guiding internal audit to consider whether their efforts actually support leadership’s ability to set and achieve organizational objectives.
“Internal audit can help leaders with assurance that their people, systems, and processes are able to deliver the desired results – and advice and insight on how to improve them further,” Marks writes. “But do we?”
Contributing greater value to the board and top management by serving as a knowledgeable and respected advisor may require a shift in thinking about the role that internal audit plays within the organization. It is also likely to necessitate a change in audit planning and practices. Audits themselves must be seen as a critical component of a more holistic and continuous approach to identifying and analyzing risk, evaluating the effectiveness of controls, and proactively addressing areas of weakness.
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For risk and safety professionals, the new calendar year brings with it a renewed focus on improving their organization’s culture of safety. Whether looking to put a new safety program in place, make wholesale changes to an existing program, or build upon previous successes, many organizations face the challenge of ensuring that their employees are fully participating in safety efforts.
A recent EHS Today article takes a look at a potential solution for involving people across an organization in this process: safety assessments.
How safety assessments differ from safety audits
To Build Safety Culture, You Must Get People Talking provides an overview of a 2018 Safety Leadership Conference session — “Distracted Drivers R US — Assessment RX for Success” — led by Walter Fluharty, vice president of EHS and organizational development at Ohio-based Simon Roofing.
Where static surveys may be seen as yet another safety-related requirement, focus group-based assessments followed by the completion of self-assessments are more likely to drive engagement and add value.
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Conducting internal audits isn’t typically an activity that any organization looks forward to. First of all, internal auditing takes time—something neither risk and safety departments nor supervisors and employees “on the ground” have in abundance. Internal audits also come with the headaches of coordinating the efforts of multiple departments and people at far-flung locations.
And when all of the hard work of gathering completed audit forms is done, data must be consolidated in a format that—fingers-crossed—will prove useful in determining the actions that will result in measurable change. It leaves one to ask, “Is it worth the effort?” … read more
Risk management information system (RMIS) solutions have come a long way in the three decades since their introduction. As they improve, Michelle Kerr reports in a Risk & Insurance article, “[T]he way risk managers use them — and the way they influence the practice of risk management — continues to evolve.” This evolution has led many to rethink their concept of what the systems can do. “They’re looking at the broader picture of how RMIS can be used to transform their organizations,” Kerr notes.
Increased flexibility and the extended capabilities of cloud-based RMIS solutions are now expanding into areas far removed from typical risk management. The ability to quickly create challenge-solving solutions that leverage the power of a highly configurable RMIS can allow all parts of an organization to innovate. In the Kerr article, Brian Van Allsburg, vice president risk management with Compass Group puts it this way, “The question really — the sky’s the limit — what can we do with this system that would make us unique?”
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The importance of establishing a near miss culture is clear. The OSHA and National Safety Council Alliance, a cooperative program, puts it this way: “History has shown repeatedly that most loss producing events (incidents), both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near miss incidents. Recognizing and reporting near miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture.” Effective near miss programs can prevent more serious incidents from occurring.
A previous post highlights some of the challenges surrounding this issue. Fear of reprisal or embarrassment, difficulty in the reporting process, and a sense of futility if reports don’t result in tangible changes. Each challenge presents obstacles when trying to establish a near miss culture.
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Compass Group sought to transition from a successful claims-based, post-loss program to a pre-loss model that focused on the further reduction of workplace injuries and enhancement of a strong, organization-wide culture of safety.
With adaptable audit functionality, convenient online and mobile access, and company-specific branding of audit forms, Compass is now using Origami Risk to promote a safety culture that engages all of its companies’ associates rather than being enforced from the top down.
Compass Group used Origami Risk’s highly configurable audit tools to address several challenges they faced in using audits as part of a pre-loss, behavior-based approach:
- Accommodation of the various types of facilities in which Compass Group companies operate
- Development of question sets for each of industries serviced by Compass Group companies
- Consideration of the heavy workload of facility managers
- Integration of company-specific branding to promote audit adoption
- Weighted scoring to target specific safety issues at one or more locations
According to the Aberdeen Group research report “Simplifying the Audit and Inspection Process to Improve Safety”, companies using best-in-class audit procedures saw a 13% decrease in regulation citations, while all others saw a 1% increase. Origami Risk’s audit solution addresses key challenges identified in the research and provides users with the tools required to realize success.
Ease of Use
Nearly all (98%) of best-in-class companies surveyed for the report completed safety audit action items on time. With an audit process that’s onerous or overly complicated, participation rates drop. To compound the issue, valuable time is then often spent following-up with stakeholders—whether it be to send reminders of approaching due-date, to request submission of overdue audit responses, or to verify that corrective actions are complete.
A well-designed process that takes into account ease of access and drives stakeholder accountability can go a long way to ensuring timely responses and high completion rates. Providing designated personnel with direct access to audit items using Origami Risk’s custom portal functionality allows for both simplified intake of audit data and documentation of any required corrective actions. The ability to set up automated notifications, task assignment, and reminders—sent via email or displayed on a dashboard upon system login—reduces administrative overhead, fosters accountability on the part of stakeholders, and, by streamlining the process, increases the likelihood of timely audit item completion.
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