Thursday, October 16, 2014

Is Your Safety Program Mature?

Paul A. Esposito, CSP, CIH, vice president of ESIS Global Risk Control Services, is pulling double duty at SeminarFest 2015. He’ll give two presentations, “Achieving a Higher Level of Program Maturity” as well as “Auditing Safety and Health Management Systems.”

Esposito details a five-level continuum to evaluate safety. The first two levels encompass a compliance approach--both reactive and proactive. “Many companies are either waiting for things to happen and just react and keep their fingers crossed, while other companies are much more proactive,” he said.

The culture and human performance of how you design redundant controls to allow for the fact that human beings are going to make mistakes is level four. The fifth level is sustainability, which is the level many organizations are pursuing.

“Many people put programs together at all these various levels,” Esposito explains. “What I have found with my research and what I’m going to do with the workshop is teach people that the true validation that you’re actually implementing that level is whether you have the right complement of leading and lagging metrics,” he says. “In the workshop, we’re going to help people explain and evaluate what level they think they might be at, using various safety programs as examples.”

As Esposito notes, sustainability is the highest level on the continuum. “You want things to be sustainable so that if new leadership comes in place, or a company buys it out, programs are integrated enough throughout the organization. It is now a business expectation that these things get done irrespective of the leadership that shows up,” he explains.

It’s important to get stakeholders like operational groups, human resources and engineering departments involved in the continuum assessment because they can provide information on what level the organization is and how to get to the next level.

“Typically, most people will start small,” Esposito explains. “I use the analogy ‘bite the elephant one bite at a time.’ What most successful groups do is start with one program, one department, one site, and they’ll begin to implement these improvements so they learn within the organization what’s successful and what may be more of a challenge.”

Communicating the results is also important, and just not from upper management. “Communication is never a one-time event,” says Esposito. “It’s an ongoing involvement with stakeholders.”

Esposito is also presenting “Auditing Safety and Health Management Systems.” About that topic, he says, “We have to define what a safety management system is. I like to use an example that almost everyone can identify with which is an inspection program. We turn an inspection program into an inspection process.”

Visit the SeminarFest website for complete details.