Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SeminarFest 2015 Preview: Achieving Business Excellence Through Risk Management

Fran Sehn, CSP, ARM, vice president and senior risk control consultant, is presenting "Achieving Business Excellence Through Risk Management" at SeminarFest 2015. Recently, Fran took some time to discuss why OSH professionals need to focus on risk management. Sehn is also the Administrator for the RMI.

Why risk? Why is it the new thing for safety professionals?
I think there are several reasons. As a profession one of the areas we have missed an opportunity is really assessing risk in its pure sense. Hazards have been the focal point for much of our profession for many, many years. Now when we start to drill into the uncertainties that create management issues and safety issues, I think risk is kind of the way to go. That’s where we need to be; we’re getting there, slowly. It’s just the mindset for so many years has been focused on the hazard identification process and correction, and now we need to take a leap forward – a leap of faith in some degree. I’m encouraged by it. I’ve been in this business for over 40 years and I have to say it’s about time.

What do you consider a successful risk management program?
Let’s look at it two ways. You can look at a risk management program that is involved in insurance purchasing and applying risk management to a variety of operations within the organization. That’s one thing – or you can take it from the perspective of the safety professional (that) looks at it as being sort of an ‘outside looking in’. Now we have to say, “Let’s integrate the safety profession as part of the entire risk management process.” Let’s identify risk, let’s treat risk, let’s deal with it from the perspective of minimizing and reducing it, and that’s where our opportunity is from the safety perspective. I think that’s where it really lies; the two tying together will move us in the right direction.

How do safety managers prove their ability to manage risk?
The safety manager now has to take a little different view of the entire safety management process. Here’s one of the opportunities we have – two ANSI standards, the ANSI/ASSE Z10 standard, and what we’re going to see with ISO 45001, a global standard for safety management, a major component of both is risk and risk assessment. I think the safety manager has to engage that part of the process in order to organizationally look at a variety of things. Branding, the business itself, how the business perceived – (they) are really challenged to say how do we look at risk differently than we have in the past…It’s going to change the perception of how the profession is going to be viewed. I think that’s a good thing. My personal goal is to help change the profession.

What ways do you think safety professionals can make inroads with business leaders to show their value as risk managers?

We have to get to the table with these guys, but we have to show the return on investment for safety. There’s no question in my mind. In addition to that, we have to talk the language of business. We have to look at the pieces like operational accountability, and how that impacts safety and the management systems, we have to look at it from the financial perspective and how safety is a cost. Instead of looking at it as a good thing for compliance, how can reduce risk and the cost of risk and therefore reducing our bottom-line cost as an organization. I think that’s been missing in many cases. We are now moving there. That’s a good thing.

How would you say safety professionals get out of compliance and into risk management?
I think it’s still an education process and I mean that sincerely. We have to come to events like SeminarFest and PDC’s and avail ourselves. Don’t go to them with things you’ve done in the past. Instead, look at how risk management and risk control and risk assessment will affect the safety component.