Safety and Quality Management: Partners in Risk Mitigation
Blog | August 14th, 2020

Safety and Quality Management: Partners in Risk Mitigation

In a world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, a highly quality-focused company such as British Airways cannot start operations. Of course, this is because of public safety concerns that are not of their making. Today, companies across industries and the globe are bending over backward to manage hazards and safety risks associated with the pandemic. In addition to pandemic-related safety concerns, it is also a good time to build a proactive safety management strategy that goes beyond COVID.

Safety and Quality: Both Go Hand-in-hand

Today’s situation should put to rest any debate about which is more important – safety or quality. Both are equally important and go hand-in-hand. While it is possible to produce a quality product without safety management, it comes at a high cost in case of a disaster. Every industry has realized this the hard way, and when disaster struck, companies had to implement a fundamental change in their thought process. Often, the catalyst to move from silos to an integrated system of quality and safety management is an accident that has caused damage to life, property, or environment.

In the oil drilling industry, the Piper Alfa accident of 1988 with 167 fatalities was a turning point. Subsequently, Shell began driving the safety case and started designing workflows and systems for safety management. Though some of the processes were already in place, Shell began putting it as a requirement and implemented much stricter protocols that were further strengthened as more data became available.

Safety and quality systems have indeed improved exponentially over the last decade. Better data, more research, the renewed focus of senior management, and employee training have all played a role. Modern health and safety in the workplace have reached very high levels. Despite that, in 2018 there were over a thousand work-related deaths in Canada and over 5,200 in the US. We can do better, and we need to.

Common Goals: A Process in Tandem Works Better

Adhering to frameworks and standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and OHSAS 18001 is the first step towards building an inherent culture of both safety and quality. To ensure this mindset spreads across the enterprise, a cloud-based QHSE system that offers seamless collaboration is crucial. It is also easier to adhere to these regulatory frameworks through continuous real-time monitoring. And the only way to do this is by having a trusted, single source of data to track all key safety and quality parameters.

Safety is the state in which the risk of harm to persons or of property damage is reduced to and maintained at or below an acceptable level, through a continuing process of hazard identification and risk management. A safety management system is a systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies, and procedures.

In both quality and safety, the business defines those standards and risks that are acceptable and those that are unacceptable, documents them, and puts metrics in place to measure them. This also helps with compliance with legal and regulatory requirements as well as the standards – external and internal – that the company follows.

Integrating at Design Stage

Though a safety management system needs quality management to be in place, the two can be designed at the same time in an integrated manner. Both systems have common grounds that make them complementary:

  • Both SMS and QMS workflows need to be formal and documented
  • Together they contribute to the continuous improvement cycle
  • Both workflows have a number of common solutions that are needed – CAPA,
  • Document Management, Audit Management, etc.
  • Collaboration and Training is a critical aspect of both systems
  • Both require serious data visibility across the entire product lifecycle

While industries such as Construction, Mining, and Forestry have very high-risk rates, there are industries like rail, airlines, and roads where the risk rates are lower but casualties are higher. And there are sectors such as Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, and Medicine, not to mention the Government, where reputation risk is an extremely important aspect to consider.

Setting a SMART Goal

Every business runs to make a profit, but in the process, there must be fewer injuries, little damage to assets, fewer environmental problems, improved sustainability, and quality of products and services. It just makes good business sense. To achieve this:

  • Clear quality and safety goals must be stated, and a path designed to reach those goals must be documented with policies and procedures.
  • Documented goals must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely
  • Data visibility and a single platform (like ComplianceQuest’s QHSE) must act as the trusted source of all data
  • A robust safety and quality program must be documented
  • Enterprise-wide training is crucial
  • Measure what Matters is a key phrase in the world of safety and quality. If you don’t monitor and measure key events, safety and quality often fall behind
  • Learn the lessons, do better next time, do not repeat
  • Proactive risk management is absolutely essential

Automated QHSE

ComplianceQuest’s Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment (QHSE) solution is built on the flexible, scalable, and customizable platform. It enables integrating safety and quality to help businesses achieve their stated goals and can be dynamically adapted to the changing environment without disrupting business workflows. ComplianceQuest’s QHSE can help create a culture of quality, providing easy access to documents and CAPA, complaint management, incident management, remote audits, and a range of other solutions.

If you’d like to demo our QHSE, request one here:

Recently, Sonya Tietjen of ComplianceQuest spearheaded a webinar on this subject, which can be found here:

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