Does Your Company Drive Collaboration for Safety?
By Brie DeLisi
When an incident occurs or a particularly hazardous situation is discovered, who participates in remedying the situation? If the safety representative and the supervisor are the only participants, you may want to reconsider your approach to be more collaborative in order to reduce rework, future injuries and creating additional hazards.
Who should be included in a collaborative safety approach?
For starters, there should be a cross-functional team with representation from anyone who interacts with the hazard and anyone who might have insight into the hazard. The purpose of including this range of individuals is to gain as much perspective as possible. Each member should bring a unique view of the risks and the solutions, and how it will impact them. This collaborative approach will reduce the risk of rework – for example, if a particular machine guard is put in place and it turns out that the maintenance team can no longer perform the required PMs, or the employee can’t perform their job as required. Additionally, this environment will foster buy in for the new approach and engaging in safety efforts.
Cross-functional participants for your consideration:
• Frontline employees – they are likely interacting with the hazard the most
• Operations Management – operational perspective
• Engineering – have the technical knowledge for applying controls
• Maintenance – for any infrastructure needs, PMs, maintenance requirements
• Health and Safety – knowledge of H&S requirements
• Human Resources or labor relations – employee rights
• Finance – purse strings and approvals for purchases
What about other operating units?
If you have a large organization, take a moment to consider if similar hazards can be found across operating units. If that is the case, when hazards are discovered or incidents occur, and controls are implemented in one location, are they also reviewed in any other applicable operating units?
It is important to ensure that there is a united front to address hazards – it is a missed opportunity to reduce risk of injury and damage if there isn’t communication or collaboration with other operating units that have the same risks.
Methods for ensuring all operating units are informed/involved:
• Include them in the cross-functional team for added perspective
• Send a communication to the entire organization to ensure that they are aware
• Require responses of all operating units for a) if the same hazard exists and b) that they applied the same controls.