Expanding the Link Between Operations and Safety
By Tom Carson, President & CEO of Sospes
Boulder, Colorado, July 29, 2019 — Last week I had a chance to meet with the management of a company considering adoption of the ISO 45001 standard for safety management systems. Certification under this standard is a serious commitment and they are wise to take the time to think through the process. During the course of the conversation, one of the operations leaders observed that the requirements of ISO 45001 are, “…really more about operations than safety.” He was absolutely right – sort of.
Anyone familiar with structured continuous improvement programs going back to the 1970’s will recognize the process and feedback loops that are an integral part of ISO 45001. What is called out specifically in the standard is the need to engage employees who may be impacted by processes into evaluations of the safety of those processes. Since nearly all operating processes could impact employees, the safety management system clearly has deep overlap into operations.
This isn’t a surprise to savvy safety professionals – there is no shortage of activities performed, directed or managed by safety personnel. Site inspections, pre-shift equipment inspections, JHA exercises and toolbox talks to name a few are all activities implemented to improve workplace safety. But consider how many of these activities have the potential for improving operations as well. Gold star if you said, “All of them!” When you ensure that equipment and the work environment is clean, safe and ready for action, you also support the promise of reliable, uninterrupted and high-quality work product. And that translates directly to better productivity.
You don’t need to certify ISO 45001 compliance to be a safer more productive company, but there are enormous benefits in embracing the connection between safety and operations.
President & CEO at Sospes, LLC
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