Skip Navigation

Course 716 - Safety Management System Evaluation

6    7    8    9    10    11    12   ; Course Homepage     Final Exam      Contact Instructor     Website Homepage
Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

_____26. Safety and health program tasks are each specifically assigned to a person or position for performance or coordination.

Discussion

  • Although assignable tasks pertain to most aspects of an organizational safety and health system, the particular tasks selected for assignment should follow primarily from review of the Operational Component (Elements 1-19). These elements almost always involve clearly assignable responsibilities. The training items (Elements 34-39) also frequently involve assignable responsibilities. Therefore, assessment of safety and health training can be expected to yield information relevant to this element.
  • It is particularly important to examine the assignment of responsibilities for actions set forth in your organization‘s action plan, if any, because these tasks have direct bearing on achievement of current safety and health objectives.
  • The intent of this element is simply to ascertain if managers and supervisors have designated individuals they intend to hold responsible for the various safety and health tasks of your organization. The degree to which such responsibilities have been successfully communicated to people who are empowered, motivated, and accountable for performance of the assigned tasks is the subject of other elements.
  • This element is not concerned with responsibility in the sense of ultimate responsibility for workplace safety and health as placed on the employer by statute. It is concerned with the performance of specific safety and health tasks. Nevertheless, claims by very small owner/operators that they have retained total responsibility for all or most of the safety and health tasks in their small organizations may be accepted. Although such a one-person safety and health system may be workable in rare instances, more often these situations merely reflect the reluctance or inability of the employer to delegate. Regardless, the adequacy or inadequacy of such a situation will be revealed through the assessment and rating of other elements.
  • The notion that everybody is responsible is a common tenet in many organizations with strong safety and health cultures. This approach is great for some aspects of the safety and health system, such as following safety rules and reporting hazards. It is not acceptable for rating this element, which requires individual responsibilities for performing specific safety and health tasks. In this view, if everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.
  • The evaluator can simply ask managers and supervisors to identify the individuals or positions with assigned responsibility for the relevant tasks. For example, if accident investigation is a priority task, the evaluator may ask a manager – "Who is responsible for conducting accident investigations?" The manager may respond by indicating that supervisors are responsible for investigating all accidents in their area. This fact establishes a confirming cue for rating this element. If the manager indicates instead that no one has been assigned responsibility for accident investigations, then a negating cue is established.
  • If a hazard has been overlooked by your organization primarily because no one had responsibility for conducting a needed accident investigation, then the evaluator has established a negating cue for rating this element. On the other hand, where evidence accumulated during a safety or health survey suggests that, at least sometimes, accident investigations are being performed; such evidence may provide a confirming cue for rating the element.

_____27. Each assignment of safety and health responsibility is clearly communicated.

Discussion

  • Assessment of this element will follow from the assessment of Attribute 26. In that element, individuals responsible for performance of priority safety and health tasks were tentatively identified, based on the perceptions of the managers or supervisors to whom those individuals report. The intent of the present element is to confirm that the responsible individuals are, in fact, aware of and understand their assignments. The simplest way to find out is to ask them. The major advantage of this method is that it provides systematic information on the communication of responsibilities for important safety and health tasks.
  • Another method for assessing this element is to ask selected members of your organization to list or describe the safety and health responsibilities they hold. This method provides an efficient way to gain limited information on where safety and health responsibilities reside in an organization, but for a broader range of task categories than does the method described in the bullet-point above. This method also reveals situations in which individuals have assumed an undelegated safety or health task in order to meet a need that may not be recognized by the manager or supervisor. Such situations are common in organizations with strong safety and health cultures and active worker participation.

_____28. An accountability mechanism is included with each assignment of safety and health responsibility.

Discussion

  • An accountability mechanism is characteristic of the highest performing safety and health systems, and it contributes incrementally to excellence in these systems once the related basic elements, particularly Elements 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33, are in place.
  • Assessment of this element will follow from assessment of Element 27, which is concerned with communication of task assignments. Effective monitoring by the delegator of the delegatee‘s performance of an assigned safety and health task is the central idea. This element is derived from the time-tested management adage that what gets monitored is what gets done. At the time any safety or health task is assigned, both the delegator and the delegatee need to have a clear and consistent mutual understanding of how and when performance of the assignment will be measured. This need places great importance on effective communication of expectations and reporting methods at the time each assignment is made.
  • Modern managers and supervisors use a variety of accountability mechanisms. These include regular written reports or memoranda, periodic personal conferences, timely briefings or oral reports to the delegator, and presentations at group meetings such as meetings of the safety committee.
  • Computer reporting is increasingly important in business today. This may involve something as sophisticated as an electronic management information system or as simple as regular e-mail messages. Some delegators prefer the "open-door" method of monitoring delegated assignments. This is a form of "management by exception" that brings to the attention of the delegating authority only those problems that the delegatee is uncertain how to handle or unable to do so.
  • The particular mechanism chosen by a delegator to ensure accountability for safety and health tasks should be consistent with that person's management style and compatible with your organization‘s culture. Also, it should be comparable to the mechanisms in place to ensure accountability for other organizational functions such as productivity and quality.

_____29. Individuals with assigned safety and health responsibilities have the necessary knowledge, skills, and timely information to perform their duties.

Discussion

Assessment of this element will follow from the assessment of Element 27, which establishes that assignment of responsibility for each safety and health task has been made and acknowledged. The intent of the present element is to determine if the responsible person knows how and when to perform the assigned task. This element considers three types of learning that are necessary for effective task performance.
  • The term "knowledge" refers to understanding gained from study or experience. Knowledge relates to the "why" and "what if" issues associated with a task.
  • The term "skill" means ability. It refers to the "how" and "do it" aspects of a task. Skill is usually obtained by practice to proficiency.
  • The term "timely information" refers to advance data, instructions, alerts, warnings, or other communications that either trigger performance of a task or alter the way it should be performed. It relates primarily to the "when" aspects of task performance and is particularly important under hazardous or emergency conditions.

_____30. Individuals with assigned safety and health responsibilities have the authority to perform their duties.

Discussion

  • Assessment of this element will follow from the assessment of Element 27, which establishes that assignment of responsibility for a task has been made and acknowledged. The intent of the present element is to determine if the responsible person has the necessary authority to perform the assigned task.
  • At least three types of authority are necessary for a responsible person to perform assigned safety and health tasks effectively--these are (1) authority over the work, (2) authority over needed resources, and (3) authority over subordinates. Authority over the work means that the responsible person can make and implement operational decisions relative to the assigned task, including work stoppage if necessary. Authority over resources means that the responsible person identifies task-related resource needs and obtains or specifies and requisitions those resources. Resource needs may involve physical resources such as supplies or equipment as well as service resources such as training, repairs, maintenance, and housekeeping. If needed resources are not available, the responsible person must have the authority to make operational decisions that react to or compensate for the resource deficiency. Authority over subordinates means that the responsible person is able t! o make and enforce task-related assignments to others. All three types of authority are usually inherent to a line position, hence the advantage of safety and health as a line function.
  • Any limitations to the authority of a responsible person should be clearly spelled out by the delegator at the time the assignment is made. Evaluation of such authority restrictions may reveal that the nominally designated responsible person is, in fact, not the responsible person because true responsibility entails authority.

_____31. Individuals with assigned safety and health responsibilities have the resources to perform their duties.

Discussion

  • Assessment of this element will follow from the assessment of Attribute 27, which establishes that assignment of responsibility for each safety and health task has been made and acknowledged. The intent of the present element is to determine if the responsible person has the resources necessary to perform the assigned task.
  • Assessment of this element may overlap assessment of Attribute 29, which concerns knowledge, skills, and information. If task resources are unavailable because the responsible person is unaware of the need for such resources, or because that person does not know how to obtain the resources, then the absence of resources reflects a negating cue for assessment of this element and for assessment of Attribute 29.
  • Assessment of this element may also overlap assessment of Attribute 30, which concerns authority issues. If task resources are unavailable because the responsible person lacks the authority to obtain the resources, then the resource deficiency reflects a negating cue for assessment of this element and for assessment of Element 30.
  • If task resources are unavailable because the responsible person has neglected or chosen not to obtain the resources, then the resource deficiency reflects a negating cue for assessment of this element alone. The evaluator may, however, also use the finding as evidence in assessing other elements, particularly Attributes 32-33 concerning motivation and Element 28 concerning accountability. The present element (Element 31) is also the appropriate assessment point for task resource deficiencies that cannot be attributed to a particular cause.
  • Resources include but are not limited to time, personnel, and money.

_____32. Organizational policies promote the performance of safety and health responsibilities.

Discussion

  • This element is concerned with positive motivation for safety and health performance. It includes consideration of positive motivations for performance of the specifically assigned safety and health tasks that are evaluated in Attributes 26-31. But it also includes the positive motivations applicable to the general safety and health activities and responsibilities that are incumbent on all members of your organization. Examples of desirable general behaviors include employee participation activities, following safety rules, and reporting hazards.
  • The methods used to motivate employee safety and health behaviors in some organizations may be complex. A negating cue, in the context of this element, is a hazard or potential hazard, for which lack of motivation on the part of one or more individuals, is a directly contributing factor. Because this type of analysis usually cannot distinguish between the need for positive motivation and the need for negative motivation, a negating cue for this element often constitutes a negating cue for Attribute 33 as well.
  • A confirming cue in the context of this element is obtained when a safety and/or health survey fails to reveal hazards or potential hazards for which lack of motivation is a directly contributing factor. The confirming cue provides positive evidence, often weak, that the element is fully or partially in place. The strength of this type of cue is proportional to the scope of the survey and the degree to which evaluators are able to discern the influence of applicable motivational factors in eliminating or controlling hazards. In addition, a confirming cue for this element may also constitute a cue for rating Attribute 33.
  • In rating this element, a single negating cue eliminates the possibility of a "3" value and a single confirming cue eliminates the possibility of a "0" value. The choice between selecting a "1" value and a "2" value will be a judgment call based on the relative weights of positive and negative evidence.
  • Motivation is driven by the consequences of action or inaction as perceived by the individual. Major positive consequences for safety and health performance might include improved personnel evaluations, pay raises, bonuses, and promotions. However, smaller positive consequences, especially those based on recognition, are also quite effective in motivating safety and health performance. The most successful motivators, large or small, are "PIC" consequences. These are consequences that are Positive, Immediate, and Certain from the perspective of the employee.
  • Also consider the "5-S's" for effective recognition. To be effective consequences should be (1) Soon, employees should be (2) Sure they will be recognized and why. Consequences should be perceived as (3) Significant, and they should be administered in a (4) Simple manner. Finally, the most effective recognition is (5) Sincere: Management's appreciation is genuine.

_____33. Organizational policies result in correction of non-performance of safety and health responsibilities.

Discussion

  • This element evaluates policies designed to discourage safety and health non-performance. It includes consideration of disincentives intended to discourage non-performance of the specifically assigned safety and health tasks that are evaluated in Attributes 26-31. But it also includes the negative motivators applicable to non-performance of the general safety and health activities and responsibilities that are incumbent on all members of your organization. Examples of undesirable general behaviors include breaking safety rules, refusing to wear required personal protective equipment (PPE), and ignoring established safe work practices.
  • Negative and positive motivations are closely related subjects. The second and third bulleted assessment tips regarding positive motivations under Attribute 23 are applicable and significant to this element too.
  • Achieving superior safety and health performance requires confronting poor performance as well as recognizing good performance. But motivation, especially negative motivation, is not the appropriate method for correcting every performance problem. The first step in correcting poor safety and health performance is to determine the underlying cause of the problem. The type of analysis involved in assessing Attributes 26-31 will reveal some of the common non-motivational obstacles to good performance. Poor work design may require job engineering. Poorly delegated task assignments may require clearer communication of expectations and consequences. Perhaps performance feedback has not been provided. Also, resources may not be appropriate or sufficient to the task or training may be inadequate.
  • The employer should have in place a formal system of progressive disciplinary actions that is used when poor safety and health performance persists after obstacles to performance have been removed.