Companies invest huge amount of money in safety, often much more than they realise, but typically only a fraction of that investment delivers performance improvement. The challenges to achieve Sustainable Safety - the term ERM uses to describe an effective, self-sustaining safety and risk management approach - are relentless and complex:
- Organizations are committed to zero harm, yet fatalities and serious injuries persist;
- Companies struggle to balance personal and process safety management priorities;
- CEOs will state, often with passion, that their organisation has a no-blame culture, yet that is not how employees feel when an incident occurs; and
- Companies are swamped with procedures that are difficult to understand, and may be disconnected with how work is actually done at the front line.
A simple organisational model that we use to explore the specific challenges applicable within a client organisation looks at how the people who work within the organisation utilise the process (the management systems, procedures, permits, etc.) and plant (the equipment, machines, vehicles, etc.). In our experience great organisational performance (whether production or safety) occurs at the interface between people, process, and plant.
The organisation can enhance its performance by maximising this overlap, and build resilience by enhancing and sustaining the effective interaction between people, process, and plant. This happens when the culture of the organisation captures lessons learned, not just when things go wrong, but also by leveraging employee and organisational best practices.