The latest OHS podcast from Boardroom Radio reinforces the need to enforce company policies. The impliacation is that it is very easy to equate legislative compliance with the existence of a policy instead of the implementation of a policy.
The need to keep polices and procedures simple was mentioned but there is the risk that brevity does not necessarily equal clarity. This links to earlier SafetyAtWorkBlog articles that discuss communication. It is one thing to have rules, it is another to make sure workers know them and yet another to have faith that they are being implemented. The emphasis on application and enforcement cannot be stressed enough.
Andrew Douglas stated in the podcast that
“the more policies and procedures you give, the less likely there is compliance…”
In many workplaces, policies and procedures are often perceived as “arse-covering exercises” and this is often due to the reaction of companies to a workplace incident. Bullying is a good example of companies introducing a policy after an incident of bullying. Business and safety professionals have a habit of shutting the door after the horse has bolted and this reaction devalues the message.
Companies need to introduce policies as an element of good business not as a result of being caught out. Many issues can be anticipated by the activity in other sectors of one’s industry or by general safety issues. Good safety professionals anticipate issues.
“Safety is, very simply put, a quality concern. A workplace safety incident is really a defect produced by a failure in the process.”
Big Q quality is indeed central to proving compliance and many safety professionals do not give document control and quality management systems the attention they require.