Integrated Risk Management – Key Learning from Deepwater Horizon

At the IOSH Conference in Manchester, England this week, risk- and evidence-based management was a prime topic. During a presentation of particular interest, Steve Flynn, the vice president of health, safety, security, and environment (HSSE) for BP, reported on numerous continual improvement actions that BP has taken since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in April 2010.

One of the key lessons learned, Flynn reported, was the need for and value of an integrated risk management approach, embedded throughout the value chain. He spoke of this in terms of a balance between people and systems, pointing to the importance of not only focusing on systems, such as a formal EHS management system, but also on the overall culture and perceptions of employees, including management. His comments reflect BP’s organizational learning, based on the Grangemouth, Forties Alpha, and Texas City accidents, as well as the Deepwater Horizon spill. Read More


ISO 9001 User Survey Results Published

Results of the 2010-11 ISO User Survey are reported in the current issue (December, 2011) of ISO Focus+.    The survey was coordinated by TC 176, subcommittee SC2 and had 11,722 respondents from around the world.  The full survey can be downloaded from the ISO website.  Some of the findings that caught my attention follow.

Factors influencing certification.  The three largest drivers that influence the decision to pursue certification are: customer satisfaction (4,222); market need (3,689); and, mandated customer requirements (3,290).  These findings are consistent with what I have been seeing with my clients, in particular customer mandated requirements for integrated EHS management systems.

Important benefits of applying ISO 9001 in an organization.  Customer satisfaction was the top response (5,886) as would be expected with 9001.  Of interest is that many of the top responses also point to value with business process improvements, including: standard business process (5,821); increased management commitment (4,125); and more effective management reviews (3,975).

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Innovations in EHS Auditing – Breakout Session at the 19th Annual NAEM Forum

EHS auditing is a dynamic process that requires stakeholder input for success. Speakers emphasized this point during a breakout session at the 19th Annual NAEM Forum, which focused on the innovative practices that several companies are using to deliver maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

The speakers presented highlights from the recent International Audit Protocol Consortium’s survey on EHS audit practices: roughly 60 percent of respondents indicated a high rating for detecting regulatory non-compliance; 50 percent for management system conformance; 50 percent for benefit of audit results to the audited operation; and less than 50 percent for benefit to external stakeholders.

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ISO 14005, an EMS Guidance for SMEs

An ever-present challenge in EHS/S management is the implementation of EMSs and EHSMSs in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME). There are numerous ways that large organizations address this challenge with their smaller and lower-risk locations.

ISO recently published a document that provides guidance to SMEs with a phased approach to implementing ISO 14001. The full title of this document is 14005:2010 “Environmental management systems – Guidelines for the phased implementation of an environmental management system, including the use of environmental performance evaluation.”

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Reintroducing EHS/S in Your Organization

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will see that there are many exciting advances in our field that go way beyond our compliance and technical roots. With the evolution of CSR, sustainability, and systems thinking, for example, there are many ways EHS/S can contribute and make a difference in organizations, beyond traditional compliance and risk management.  There is a new context evolving; a new EHS/S space is available for capture.

To do this, at some point you will need to think about how you will reintroduce EHS/S.

Let’s face it, the EHS/S department, function, and staff is not always popular. With our background in regulatory compliance and with a technical focus, we can be viewed as enforcers, cops, nags, etc., and we don’t always do a good job in communicating purpose and value. This history needs to be addressed and the evolution from it needs to be demonstrated. Another challenge is that even within a new context for EHS/S, there are very real compliance and risk management requirements that must be met. Even so, there are ways to do this and provide leadership. Read More


A Management of Change Boost with Organizational Learning and Systems Thinking Tools

As a living system, a company’s risk profile is continually shifting. The growing attention on sustainability and corporate responsibility (CSR) has stretched companies as they wrestle with ways to characterize and manage their sustainability and CSR risks.

Integrated EHS, sustainability, and CSR management systems provide a robust structure to manage risks.  A key concept in an integrated management system is “the management of change” (MOC), which focuses on identifying and managing risks as operations or the operating environment change. MOC procedures and process typically kick in when new equipment or manufacturing lines are installed, during mergers and acquisitions, or during internal re-organizations. On the corporate responsibility front, forward-thinking companies include the monitoring of third-party monitoring criteria in their MOC process.

Strong MOC processes are part of a company’s first line of defense for risk reduction. The MOC process should detect most risks that arise in between formal risk assessments. Read More


EHS Auditing – A Key to Breakthrough Performance and EHS Integration

“What gets measured, gets done” is a popular saying in performance improvement circles. There is more though. Yes, true as this is, measurement—and I’ll go a step further here and say auditing—is just part of the “gets done” piece. When crafted within a context of breakthrough performance, EHS auditing and the audit function in an EHS department can be a catalyst for accelerated performance improvement and EHS integration. EHS auditing is commonly viewed as a necessary evil or burden to satisfy regulatory and legal requirements. Within this context, the results are predictable. There is little if any enthusiasm; there is a struggle; and there can be challenges with inter-rater reliability.

When EHS auditing is formulated through an organizational learning and systems thinking lens—supported by an integrated EHS management system structure—the function shifts from being summative to formative, as program evaluation professionals would say. There is a shift toward action research that fosters partnership in solving EHS challenges. Audits are viewed as opportunities to see things not previously apparent. Casual links and patterns are distinguished in a way that people can see their roles in the “organizational systems” and see possibilities to alter the system and their roles.

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Are you an EHS Coach or Cop?

With roots in regulatory compliance, it’s no wonder that EHS professionals are, at times, viewed as cops. However, there are numerous evolving concepts that impact EHS effectiveness well beyond regulatory compliance. Some of these include the use of EHS management systems and six-sigma; the way in which EHS audits are conducted and its findings used; the role EHS professionals can play when their context (you can also say “mental models”) shift from compliance-based (cop-on-the-beat) to one of advising and coaching.

Accountability is key to this shift. In an advising/coaching role, EHS accountability is shared in partnership. EHS management systems help provide a framework for partnerships to flourish.

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A Multi-Dimensional Perspective for EHS, Building and Leveraging Your EHS Culture

Organizational culture is complex, and according to many experts, not well understood. EHS professionals often think about culture in terms of safety. Yet, while safety is clearly important, the topic of culture is all-encompassing.

An area that I continue to explore is how EHS departments and their professionals can impact overall organizational culture. Said another way, how can you build and leverage your EHS culture?

I recently heard Professor Ed Schein of MIT, regarded as an organizational culture pioneer, speak. The title of his lecture was, “From Managing Organizational Culture to Leading Multicultural Teams.” He discussed the ways in which his thoughts on organizational culture have evolved over the past several decades and reviewed some of the material in the soon-to-be-released 4th edition of his landmark book, Organizational Culture and Leadership.

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OSHA Program Standard Activity

There is increased activity on occupational health and safety (OHS) programs in OSHA under its new administration. The agency’s new director is addressing and improving the safety culture in companies. One vehicle to do this is addressing comprehensive OHS programs. There was activity in the mid- to late 1990s in this area with attempts to codify the highly regarded Voluntary Protection Program and elevate the status of OSHA’s 1989 Program Guidelines. These efforts morphed into attempts in federal OSHA to adopt a national Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) found in a handful of states, including California.

In a March 25, 2010 speech to a joint meeting of local sections of the ASSE and AIHA, David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, discussed how OSHA inspectors are increasingly looking at how companies “are taking steps to improve the overall [OHS] performance, reduce risk, and make prevention a daily part operations.” He said that there is a more “intense look at whether there is in place a comprehensive safety and health management system, and asking ‘is it being implemented, and are management and workers working together toward continuous improvement.’”

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