Safety Management: A Key Enabler for Operational Excellence
Blog | June 15th, 2023

Safety Management: A Key Enabler for Operational Excellence

The common understanding is that safety management helps to reduce incidents in the organization, bringing down the direct and indirect costs of injuries and fatalities. And this understanding is not wrong. But that’s certainly not all!

According to David Michaels, who was the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) from 2009 to 2017, organizations with an effective safety management program are more successful and sustainable because of their greater focus on operational excellence. And the reverse is true too - that businesses where production systems are not managed well tend to experience more incidents and catastrophic events leading to injuries and fatalities.

Safety and operational excellence go hand-in-hand, with each improving the other and leading to continuous improvement of management systems.

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The Role of EHS Management in Operational Excellence

Both safety management and operational excellence can be defined as the integration of people, processes, and technology to solve problems, improve collaboration, and empower teams. This results in the continuous improvement of management systems to enhance customer satisfaction, increase employee productivity, and improve brand reputation, leading to accelerated growth.

Safety management principles are aimed at workplace safety, but since they impact workplace assets and processes, they also improve operational efficiency, leading to excellence.

Some of the key principles for better safety include:

Clean and Clutter-Free Shopfloor: One of the first requirements of safety management is a clutter-free, clean shop floor. Lean manufacturing, an operational excellence principle, also stresses the importance of this - as it aims to minimize waste and maximize productivity. The 5Ss of lean manufacturing emphasize a well-organized shopfloor that reduces the risk of accidents and illnesses while improving productivity and efficiency.

Standardization of Processes: This helps to identify and respond to any variations quickly, thereby improving the quality and safety of processes. This improves operational performance, lowers costs by decreasing process errors, facilitates communication, and increases flexibility.

Worker Engagement: Achieving operational excellence and making the workplace safe require employees to participate proactively in meeting the goals. Implementing standard operating procedures, reporting deviations, and identifying areas of improvement are as much the responsibility of the workers for their areas of responsibility as that of the management and safety leaders. This helps in ensuring the safety of operations and leads to operational excellence.

Preventive Maintenance: The health of the machinery plays a significant role in the quality of the product as well as the well-being of the workers. Unplanned downtimes due to faulty machinery can disrupt operations and also prove hazardous for the safety of the worker. Preventive maintenance can help organizations plan downtimes and ensure safe operations.

Measuring Safety Parameters: Safety management requires businesses to constantly monitor safety parameters and identify gaps for continuous improvement. This helps to improve the process quality and leads to operational excellence.

Training: The incident data helps organizations identify gaps in skills and provide employees with the required training to upskill them. This helps them perform their tasks better and in a safer way, thereby enhancing the quality of operations.

RCA and CAPA: Incident investigation requires root cause analysis to identify the true cause of an incident and implement corrective and preventive action. This ensures that the incident does not recur and that controls are put in place to mitigate risks.

Safety Observations: A good safety management system must integrate reactive, proactive, and preventative approaches. In addition to responding to incidents quickly, organizations must also encourage safety observations to prevent risks from blowing up into a full-fledged events. This makes safety management proactive, improving operational quality.

Audits and Inspections: Audits and Inspections also are part of proactive and preventative approaches to safety management. They help to identify risks early, rectify them as needed, and improve safety parameters. This also helps with proactively correcting process errors, thereby reducing waste and improving operational efficiency.

Automating EHS Management and Operational Excellence with ComplianceQuest

The stakes for getting the EHS processes/workflows right are high. Not only will they bring down the cost of safety, and improve employee engagement and loyalty, but also improve operational efficiency. This is a win-win that can accelerate growth and improve brand reputation. A cloud-based solution like ComplianceQuest’s EHS Solution is loaded to provide businesses the jump-start they need by embracing next-gen technology with minimum downtime and maximum benefits.

A cloud-based, scalable solution built on Salesforce, it enables businesses to effect improvements in their processes and meet their safety and operational goals quickly.

We recently published a case study featuring how two companies - ClearStream Energy Services and Ocean Insight - used ComplianceQuest EHS Solution to not only improve safety management efforts but also employee engagement, document management, and operational efficiency.

ClearStream provides solutions for sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemical, mining, power, and agriculture, among others. The company is dedicated to creating an environment of safety and quality for its employees and clients – and implemented ComplianceQuest EHS and EQMS Solutions to improve business processes. This included making improvements to safety, technology, and operational procedures.

For instance, one of the operational procedures that was challenging for the company was safety inspections, especially at remote locations. Using CQ EHS, the company was able to set up digital worksite inspection forms to capture data from remote locations, even when there was no connectivity. The data would then sync with CQ EHS and the Salesforce platform, for safety leaders to access from anytime, anywhere. Access to the latest data from inspections was critical to improving both safety and operational performance.

At Ocean Insight, the employees use the ComplianceQuest Solution to not only streamline quality and safety management processes but also to collaborate across cross-functional teams to build an enterprise-wide culture of quality and safety. The CQ Solution played a key role in helping employees and workers stay engaged, and understand their roles and responsibilities to build a safe workplace.

The digital systems and processes also helped with standardizing quality and safety management processes, ensuring that everything is documented and tracked. ComplianceQuest is the ‘system of record’ where everything gets reported and the ‘process’ is implemented on the shop floor. This has helped the company save over $250k per year with a one-stop system that was adopted by a wide range of stakeholders, across teams.

The CQ EHS Solution is aligned with all leading safety regulations, which emphasize the importance of a risk-based approach to safety management. Therefore, businesses can manage risks, track performance, document, and review for continuous improvement. With the CQ EHS, businesses can not only create a safer environment but also ensure operational excellence.

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