Webster defines the term, evaluate, as "to judge the worth of." Evaluation is a systematic, objective process for determining the success of a policy or program. It addresses questions about whether and to what extent the program is achieving its goals and objectives. The primary attributes of most SMS evaluations include objectivity, standardization, systematic, and formal.
Evaluation has several distinguishing characteristics.
Evaluations are usually carried out by an evaluation team such as members of the safety committee or other safety staff. Team members should assist in developing the evaluation design, developing data collection instruments, collecting data, analyzing data, and writing the report. The evaluation plan is a written document describing the overall approach or design that will be used to guide an evaluation.
An evaluation plan should include:
The purpose of an SMS evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of the SMS. To do that we can focus on four strategies:
Regardless of the primary focus of the evaluation, they all use data collected in a systematic manner. These data may be:
Successful evaluations often blend quantitative and qualitative data collection. The choice of which to use should be made with an understanding that there is usually more than one way to answer any given question.
This is important. Do not conduct a SMS evaluation to determine the inherent value of a person. We don't evaluate to find out who is mad, bad, evil, lazy, crazy, stupid, or otherwise flawed. Do not make value judgments that attack a person or group. A key principle to understand, here, is that if you attack people, they attack back.
If the purpose of an evaluation is to "fix the system," playing the "blame game" is not effective precisely because it does not achieve the desired effect. Actually, the evaluation may be counter-productive.
If we evaluate to place blame, we'll stop the process once blame has been determined. As a result, we'll never get past blame to evaluate the system, itself. In an effective SMS evaluation, our objective is to discover the effectiveness of the system.
Our primary question about programs is, "Do they work, or don't they?"
If the purpose is to fix the blame, you are not going to ask this critical question. Why? Because...
When the purpose of a process has been achieved, the process stops!
The safety committee can help by evaluating the employer's accident and illness prevention program, and making written recommendations to improve the program where applicable. This best practice emphasizes the fact that a very important safety committee responsibility is to help the employer evaluate the SMS. The safety committee should also be able to write quality recommendations to improve the SMS.
To conduct an evaluation, we need to take the information gathered from the baseline survey and rate it against an established benchmark. A benchmark is a standard by which the system can be measured or judged, for instance, we might say XYZ's SMS is "benchmark of quality" in our industry. In the optional modules of this course (Modules 5-12); you will be introduced to the OSHA Safety and Health Program Assessment Worksheet which may be used as a benchmark. This audit evaluates the same 58 elements of a SMS also used by OSHA to evaluate companies participating in the Safety and Health Achievement Program (SHARP). You may also be interested in using other evaluation standards as benchmarks such as:
We'll look at a simple example demonstrating this works in the next section.
Let’s have a little fun with a simple example of the analysis and evaluation process. There is a basket of apples on the counter. You see one apple has a bump on it! You have now identified a possible problem.
To better understand why the apple looks like it does, you decide to cut it up, take a look at the seeds, the core, the flesh and the skin. You gather the following facts about the apple:
Evaluation: OK, how "good" is the apple?
Since you have gathered information, you are able to evaluate the quality of the apple based on facts. You determine the apple is flawed. Now that you know there is a real problem, you can then figure out what the cause is so the rest of the apples don't spoil. You have to conduct a cause analysis. You understand that everything you've identified so far represent only the observable, measurable effects of some cause.
Cause Analysis: OK, what's the cause?
The question, now, is, "what is the cause." There are two basic types of causes you identify in your analysis: surface and root (very appropriate in our apple example ;-).
Surface causes: It's obvious the damage is caused by a bug of some kind. Considering all the information gathered helps them search the internet and determine that an Apple Maggot has deposited eggs under the skin of the apple and fed on the flesh of the apple. They're quite happy about discovering the obvious surface cause, but why is the Apple Maggot causing a problem? It never has before! They've got to figure out the root cause.
Root causes: You know the maggot did its damage, but why? Asking "why" a number of times, will help you eventually determine the less obvious underlying contributing causes of the spoiled apple. During root cause analysis you can determine that:
With this information in hand, you will be able to develop strategies to overcome this infestation.
The negative effects of a flawed system are often due to inadequate resources, system design, and/or system performance. If one or more of these three system components are flawed, the effect will be flawed conditions and behaviors. Often, management must decide if a flawed condition or behavior is the result of a flaw in the system or a policy violation which may require disciplining the violator.
Management must determine if adequate resources were available, if the system design was adequate, and if the system performance was adequate. If any of the three system components were inadequate, then the system is at fault and no discipline should be administered. If all three of the system components were clearly adequate, then discipline may be necessary.
If discipline is used despite an inadequate system, employees will feel as though they are being blamed without cause. This can lead to resentment and low morale. It is important to only discipline if the system has been shown to be adequate.
The flowchart (right) can be used as a guide when evaluating the safety management system. If any of the questions can be answered with a "No," then the system is inadequate and must be corrected. It is possible for more than one system component to be inadequate, therefore each component should be evaluated and corrected as necessary.
Are any of the system components inadequate?
Bob, a maintenance worker with the company for 10 years, received a serious electrical shock while working on a conveyor belt motor. When Bob was asked why he did not use the company's established lockout/tagout procedures, he replied, "I thought about it, but the procedures were not current since the new equipment had been installed last year." Bob also indicated most of the other maintenance workers usually skipped the lockout/tagout procedures because they are constantly being told to "hurry up" and get the job finished.
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Stephen Yates, CHST, Optimum Safety Management president, presents “Building a Safety Culture that Lasts,” at the Finishing Contractors Association (FCA) International Leadership Council. This excerpt from the presentation discusses Optimum Safety Management's safety management system (SMS) assessment services.