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Change Management for Safety Programs

What is change management? Change management is a documented process used for making changes, in this case to your organization’s safety program. If your company is looking to be successful, change should be considered a constant an ongoing aspect of your organization. Change management requires a level of ownership within your organization to be responsible for implementing change, with the involvement of all impacted stakeholders.

Outline a change management plan

In the context of safety, change presents many challenges, but there are opportunities for your organization as well. A clear accounting of those risks, mitigation, and opportunities can better help your organization adapt. As is often the case, much depends on your organization’s existing culture. Not only should the benefits of a change to your operations be clearly outlined, but a case needs to be made why you’re changing your operations at all.

Making the case for change

  1. Introduction of a new type of equipment
  2. Significant changes in the type and nature of company operations
  3. Changes to employee selection and on-boarding
  4. Changes to employee schedules, especially ones involving night operations
  5. Changes to company organizational structure
  6. Changes to contracts with third party vendors

These are of course are just a few examples, the size and complexity of your operations will have a significant impact on the measures your company needs to take to mitigate risk from changes. Your organization should establish a team with the appropriate knowledge to assess risks associated with the change and develop appropriate mitigations.

It is crucial that changes that may impact safety follow a structured and documented approach. Involvement of all appropriate stakeholders and clear communication with all participants drastically increases the likelihood for the success of your project. Ensure that those involved in this process have the authority and resources necessary for the scope of the project.

  1. Establish a clear requirement for the case
  2. Determine the scope of the project
  3. Determine what should be documented
  4. Develop a list of clear deliverables to achieve your goals

A case for change will incorporate consideration for the strengths and weaknesses of your organization, in conjunction with potential opportunities and risk. This is an evolving process that requires consistent review and feedback. Keep in mind that it can take some time for the effects of changes to become measurable within your organization. Providing a means to gather direct feedback from members of your organization that are directly involved with policy changes can be invaluable to your company.

Monitor and Review Safety Program Implementation

So, your team of subject matter experts has implemented a project plan, how do you know that those mitigations are effective? Feedback is vital for an effective review of your change implementation, but what does feedback mean? Not only are expert opinions important, but the feedback from personnel who are directly involved matters a great deal to determining a complete picture.

In today’s world with considerable uncertainty. It can be easy to not notice smaller issues. New procedures and policies make it easy for safety related items to fall through the cracks. What systems do you have in place to notice them? More importantly do you have the tools and personnel to make sense of that data?

If you are implementing a change in your safety program, does the increasing number of hazard reports mean your business is less safe than before? Or are you just capturing more data? Depending on your organization, this can be quite a complex problem to solve, with a huge volume of reports. When considering changes, consider how the data will be gathered and processed to make sense of those changes and if your controls are effective.

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