Developing and Implementing a Safety Plan

Developing and Implementing a Safety Management Plan

Putting Safety Management Plans into Google will give a variety of responses and a number of examples. It is obvious the term means different things to different people.

First of all we have to sort out what we mean by the term Safety Management Plan.

I have seen it used in 13 ways-

1 An overarching plan that talks about the strategic aspects of managing OHS in an organisation

2 A construction or project safety plan that has general information on safety, identifies general hazards and talks about how to manage those general hazards

3 A hazard management plan that does a very detailed job of identifying hazards and goes to extreme lengths to talk about managing those hazards

4 Safe Working Procedures or Work Method Statements, preferably developed by Job Safety Analysis, are sometimes referred to as safety plans

5 Catastrophic Risk Management Plans for low probability-high consequence risk

6 Fire safety plans

7 Critical incident management plans

8 Mine safety management plans

9 Flight safety plans

10 Emergency response plans

11 Safety training plans

12 Project management plans

13 Change management plans

My guess is what you end up calling a Safety Management Plan depends on your purpose and this guides what should go into it.

My experience is that there is often an over-reliance on the writing of Safety Management Plans, if the workforce do not know about them and enact them they are not of much use. I once worked with an organisation where once construction safety plans were developed the standard practice was to put them in the project engineer’s files without discussion with the workforce. Reliance on procedural controls alone is often ineffective.

I have always believed that a Safety Management System that focuses on compliance with OHS legislation will always only go part way towards having good safety performance, but it seems this is a required starting point. Safety Management Plans should reflect that.

2 tips for developing Safety Management Plans are-

1 Keep it simple

2 Reality test it with the workforce

A lot of Safety Management Plans follow the “Just in case” and “Cover your arse” principles and ramble onto unwieldy lengths that it is unrealistic to expect anyone will actually read them, yet alone comply with them. Bring back the succinct paperwork I reckon.

On one contract role I was asked to review the company safety documentation as a pre-cursor to doing my work. There were about 70 pages of Fatal Risk Protocols and 30 pages of OHS Standards. A considerable amount of detailed work had gone into their preparation but I wondered if the people up the sharp end, where things really matter, ever read and applied them.

Busy people do not have the time to develop detailed documentation and busy people do not have the time to read it. If you feel it necessary to have detailed documentation for legal, insurance or other purposes there is room for succinct summaries of major points.

Practical advice on developing safety plans

  1. Form a project team to develop the plan. Formal and informal influencers should be on the team
  2. If a thorough OHS audit has not been carried out recently conduct one
  3. Analyse past accident experience
  4. Drive safety culture and safety change through a robust Safety Management System that is constantly monitored and reviewed and is targeted at the identified needs of the organisation (Refer to “What Makes a Safety Management System Fly”
  5. Carry out a force-field analysis with a cross-section of stakeholders
  6. Develop objectives / goals / mission /values
  7. Define how to meet the requirements, develop targets, timelines, deliverables
  8. Develop key performance indicators, these must be a mix of lead & lag indicators
  9. Whatever you develop must be simple and succinct
  10. Involve the stakeholders
  11. Reality test your draft with the workforce
  12. Develop a 1 year plan and review at that time
  13. Regularly monitor success in the implementation of the plan
  14. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE in a way that inspires
  15. Have huge but realistic goals
  16. Do the simplest thing that will work
  17. When initiating change remember “People support what they create” Initiating change is difficult at the best of times, if you do not involve those affected by the change in the change process it is unlikely to work.
  18. Identify and separate customer needs from wants
  19. Use face to face communication whenever possible
  20. Use real world approaches not theory
  21. Get some runs on the board quickly
  22. Have high expectations and communicate them
  23. Drive safety from the top of the organisation
  24. Know your people
  25. Be loyal
  26. Question the status-quo
  27. Do what gives you the biggest bang for your buck
  28. Minimise the bureaucracy and bull-shit
  29. Carefully define the scope of any project you take on
  30. Passive countermeasures (That do not rely on action by the human being) are preferred to Active countermeasures

The 8 Steps of Strategic Planning

1 Articulate a mission-Why do we exist?, Whom do we serve?, What do we provide?

2 Articulate a vision-How do we define excellence?, What do we stand for?

What makes us distinct?

3 Analyse current situation and performance

4 Identify gaps between our vision and current situation and identify the critical issues

5 Set strategic priorities

6 Establish performance measures and goals

7 Develop 1 year action plans

8 Conduct evaluation and schedule progress checks

Tips to make your strategic plan a success

  1. Carefully select members for the planning team
  2. Educate people on the role of the plan
  3. Involve the stakeholders
  4. Get the information needed prior to developing the plan
  5. Hold you strategy sessions away from the office
  6. Allow sufficient time
  7. Communicate your strategy
  8. Monitor progress
  9. Link the strategic plan to the budgeting process
  10. Adopt simple, clear terminology
  11. Set realistic time frames
  12. Ask client’s what is missing
  13. Revise the plan regularly

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