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6.2 OH&S objectives and plans to achieve them
6.2.2 Planning actions to achieve OH&S objectives
Organizations are required to establish and maintain one or more management improvement programmes for achieving their objectives. The management improvement programme is a key element to the success of the OHSMS. Properly designed and implemented, management programmes should achieve the objectives and, consequently, improve your organization’s performance. The management programme must:
- Address each objective and target;
- Designate the personnel responsible for achieving targets at each relevant function/level of the organization;
- Provide an action plan describing how each target will be achieved;
- Establish a time-frame or a schedule for achieving each target.
Setting objectives and targets should involve people from the relevant functional area(s). These people are well positioned to help establish, plan for, and achieve these targets. The involvement of people helps to build commitment and demonstrates positive leadership.
- Get Top management buy-into the health and safety objectives. This ensures that adequate resources are applied and that the objectives are integrated with other organizational goals;
- In communicating objectives to employees, try to link the objectives to the actual improvements being sought, e.g. reducing nonconformances and closing out corrective actions, as this will give people something tangible to work towards;
- The health and safety objectives must be consistent with the overall mission/plan and the key commitments established by your health and safety policy;
- Be flexible with your objectives, define the desired result, then let the people responsible determine how to achieve the result;
- Objectives can be established to maintain current levels of performance, or to improve performance;
- Communicate your progress in achieving objectives and targets across the organization. Consider regular reports on this progress at staff meetings;
- How many objectives and targets should an organization have? Various OHSMS implementation projects for small and medium-sized organizations indicate that it is best to start with a limited number of objectives (say, three to five) and then expand the list over time;
- Keep your health and safety objectives simple initially, gain some early successes, and then build on them;
- Keep in mind that your suppliers (of services or materials) can help you in meeting your objectives and targets (e.g., on-time-delivery).
Objectives must support the policy requirements and have been considered in line with available resources. There should be detail of who is responsible, agreed timings and measures in place to establish progress and whether proposed achievements have been met.
Objectives and plans to achieve them should be maintained and retained as documented information. Your organization must undertake planning in order to determine how its OHSMS objectives will be achieved. This planning includes determining the work required in order for the organization to realize its objectives you should look for evidence that effective planning is taking place to support the achievement of your organization’s objectives.
Additionally, your organization must determine how it will evaluate the work done, including the use of indicators, and whenever possible, to integrate these planned actions into its business processes. The use of indicators needs to be audited in detail in order to determine whether:
- Objectives based on sound information;
- Indicators really related to the corresponding objectives;
- Statistical tools needed to define and to monitor objectives;
- Indicators reach the expected values;
- The organization can assure that the objective has been achieved.
You should seek and record evidence that effective planning was undertaken in support of the organization’s health and safety objectives and their achievement. You should ensure that this planning activity takes into considerations of Clause 6.2.1, as well as the following points:
- Identification of processes, resources, and skills needed to achieve health and safety;
- Identification of suitable verification criteria at appropriate stages;
- Compatibility of design, production, inspection and testing;
- The confirmation of criteria of acceptability for all features and requirements;
- Details of calibration of any special measuring or test equipment to be used.
Establishing an action plan for each objective may require considerable effort on the part of the personnel at relevant levels within your organization. To ensure the progress of the action plan and a coordinated effort, a target leader should be selected for each target. The target leader will be responsible for ensuring a target is achieved within the specified time-frame. Once the action plan is established, you must implement it. You may find that the following suggestions will help foster a cooperative effort in accomplishing the plan:
- Involve your employees early in establishing and carrying out the action plans;
- Communicate the expectations and responsibilities laid out in the action plans to those who need to know;
- Build on the plans and programmes you have now for OHSMS compliance;
- Keep it simple;
- Focus on continual improvement of management programmes over time.
The integrated management programme should be revised regularly to reflect changes in your organization’s objectives and targets. Track all new or modified operations, activities, and/or products in case the management programme needs to be amended to reflect these changes.
Selecting safety performance indicators
Safety performance indicators are the parameters that provide the organization with a view of its safety performance: where it has been; where it is now; and where it is headed, in relation to safety. This picture acts as a solid and defensible foundation upon which the organization’s data-driven safety decisions are made.
These decisions, in turn, positively affect the organization’s safety performance. The identification of safety performance indicators should therefore be realistic, relevant, and linked to the safety objectives, regardless of their simplicity or complexity.
It is likely the initial selection of safety performance indicators will be limited to the monitoring and measurement of parameters representing events or processes that are easy and/or convenient to capture (safety data that may be readily available). Ideally, SPIs should focus on parameters that are important indicators of safety performance, rather than on those that are easy to attain. SPIs should be:
- Related to the safety objective they aim to indicate;
- Selected or developed based on available data and reliable measurement;
- Appropriately specific and quantifiable; and
- Realistic, by taking into account the possibilities and constraints of the organization.
A combination of safety performance indicators is usually required to provide a clear indication of safety performance. There should be a clear link between lagging and leading safety performance indicators. Ideally lagging SPIs should be defined before determining leading SPIs.
Defining a precursor safety performance indicator that is linked to a more serious event or condition (the lagging SPI) ensures there is a clear correlation between the two. All of the SPIs, lagging and leading, are equally valid and valuable. The contents of each safety performance indicators should include:
- A description of what the SPI measures;
- The purpose of the SPI (what it is intended to manage and who it is intended to inform);
- The units of measurement and any requirements for its calculation;
- Who is responsible for collecting, validating, monitoring, reporting and acting on the SPI (these may be staff from different parts of the organization);
- Where or how the data should be collected; and
- The frequency of reporting, collecting, monitoring and analysis of the SPI data.
The two most common categories used by organizations to classify their safety performance indicators are lagging (reactive) and leading (proactive).
Leading safety performance indicators
There are a variety of ways to measure health and safety performance, but no single metric will provide leaders with all the information they need. Instead several measures are needed provide an accurate picture of the organization’s health and safety performance.
Leading or proactive safety performance indicators are measures that focus on processes and inputs that are being implemented to improve or maintain safety. Leading indicators are used to identify risks before an incident occurs. Leading indicators measure what employees are doing on a regular basis to prevent injuries.
They are also known as ‘activity or process-based SPIs’ as they monitor and measure conditions that have the potential to become or to contribute to a specific outcome. Examples of leading safety performance indicators driving the development of organizational capabilities for proactive safety performance management include such things as:
- Percentage of staff who have successfully completed safety training on-time;
- Frequency of tool-box talks;
- Investigations completed on time;
- Frequency of employee safety awareness;
- Number of job safety analyses carried out v target;
- Health and safety training;
- Health and safety risks identified and corrected;
- Employee perception surveys;
- Health and safety audits;
- Frequency of health and safety meetings;
- Near-miss reporting;
- Effectiveness of investigations;
- Frequency of safety communication and consultation activities.
Leading safety performance indicators may also inform the organization about how their operation copes with change, including changes in its operating environment. The focus will be either on anticipating weaknesses and vulnerabilities as a result of the change or monitoring the performance after a change. An example of SPIs to monitor a change in operations would be ‘percentage of sites or areas that have been trained in and implemented procedure X’.
Lagging safety performance indicators
The most commonly used health and safety indicator is work-related injuries and illnesses. But a low injury rate, even over a period of years, is no guarantee that risks are being controlled. This is particularly true in organizations where there is a low probability of accidents but where major hazards are present.
Lagging or reactive safety performance indicators measure events that have already occurred. They are also referred to as ‘outcome-based SPIs’ and are normally (but not always) the negative outcomes the organization is aiming to avoid.
Lagging safety performance indicators help the organization understand what has happened in the past and are useful for long-term trending. They can be used as a high-level indicator or as an indication of specific occurrence types or locations, such as ‘types of accidents per job-role type’ or ‘specific incident types by location or region’.
Because lagging SPIs measure safety outcomes, they can measure the effectiveness of safety mitigations. They are effective at validating the overall safety performance of the system. Trends in lagging SPIs can be analysed to determine conditions existing in the system that should be addressed.
- Number of major risk incidents;
- Recordable incident frequency;
- Injury frequency and severity;
- Lost workdays;
- Damaged property;
- Number of internal audits;
- Number of audit findings per audit;
- Number of safety committee meetings;
- Safety committee attendance of key personnel;
- Number of hazard/safety reports;
- Number of safety newsletters issued;
- Number of formal risk assessments;
- Number of safety surveys.
Safety goals and measurements
Development of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive (SMART) goals is important to the success of any health and safety programme. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of focusing solely on the desired outcomes in the development of their goals. They fail to develop activity-based goals that will help them to get to those outcomes. To increase the chances of success, develop both activity-based and outcome-based goals.
Prioritize metrics in areas of concern or where a serious incident is more likely to occur. For example, if vehicle accidents are common, measure the level of driver training or review the frequency of accidents in different regions.
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