The world of HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) is changing fast. In many companies the HSE function is being shrunk with limited consideration of the consequent risks. Instead of simply accepting that this is ‘just the way it is’, HSE professionals need to get ahead of the game and demonstrate the value they bring to the organisation.

The efficiency and effectiveness (and potentially the overall burden) of the HSE function is increasingly being challenged by executives who are looking for better HSE and operational performance and risk management at reduced cost, as one dissatisfied executive put it to us recently ‘I sleep at night by knowing that I have the right supervisors on the job not by having safety advisors running their own parallel bureaucratic processes’. The efficiency and effectiveness goals being sought are typically:

  • Reduced headcount
  • Fewer and simpler integrated processes
  • Greater ownership within operations

In most cases, the HSE function either needs to transform itself or prepare to be downsized (e.g. usually by HR supported by external consultants). Downsizing, in our experience, usually occurs in one of two ways: rapidly, driven by cost reduction targets and without due consideration of consequential risk; or in a phased manner taking into careful consideration consequential risk. The approach taken is determined, in part, by the openness of the HSE function to the need for change.

In this context, the aim of this paper is to explore the early stages of HSE organisational transformation, specifically:

  • Recognizing the need to change
  • Redesigning the HSE function

This paper is intended to front-end and complement our paper on ‘Less with Less' which describes a risk-based approach to implementation.