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Rethinking Risk and Shared Learning in the year of the Plateau Effect!

Global Safety Index

Ben Wilson, Managing Director of the Global Safety Index (GSI) discusses three main themes of safety activity in leading organisations and industry bodies.

1. Rethink Risk

2015 will see a significant rethink by organisations around the definition of Risk (People and Process) and where they focus resources. Critical Risks and Critical Controls have long been understood and implemented across high risk industries however other industries have been slow to adopt this concentrated approach within their risk management framework. 2015 will see other industry groups and leading organisations within Manufacturing, Transport, Retail, Telecommunications and Utilities move away from managing risk compliance against standards and tasks and move towards increased focus on high consequence unwanted events.

Many organisations have very high percentage compliant processes, procedures and standards yet year on year still have significant unwanted events including catastrophic failures or fatalities! Why?

GSI believes this is predominantly due to two aspects;

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Organisations will bring more specific focus to People Risk as well as adopting a targeted approach to effectively managing the critical few controls. This does not mean halting focus on known hazards or high risk tasks. It simply means we will stratify the management approach. Questions that will become more common are:

“Is trust increasing or decreasing within our business and can we be confident we are getting a true picture of risk within our business?”, “Are we controlling our process risk as well as our people risk?”

GSI has seen not only seen many members begin to ask and answer these two questions but we have also seen industry bodies and not for profit agencies raise the profile and launch strategic initiatives directly related to people risk.

A very topical example of this is the increased focus on understanding, communication and proactive management around Mental Health in the Workplace. Over the last few years mature, advanced organisations and industries have dedicated strategies, platforms and development programs targeted at reducing this trend and rightfully so.

2. Addressing the Plateau Effect

In 2015 organisations who are measuring more than just the ‘output’ Lag and Lead indicators will be better equipped to break the Plateau Effect (two to three periods of similar performance with limited improvement) not only faster but more efficiently and in a SUSTAINABLE fashion.

Organisations who have been measuring both ‘Input’ and ‘Output’ measures to determine safety performance should see a cross over effect with Output measures (predominantly lag) slowing or stagnating (plateau) whilst Input measures (Culture and Leadership) improve.

The GSI Safety Culture, Leadership and Performance Model (2014) helps organisations consider an alternate reality. Organisations who choose to invest in culture and capability will over time see sustained improvement in results. However what must change in this situation is the organisation’s current definition of MEASURES and RESULTS. Both will now be expanded to include the measure and organisational result of Safety Culture maturity and Safety Leadership capability as inputs to the delivered output safety performance results.

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The model illustrates that whilst output performance (lead and lag indicators) may suggest the organisation is moving slowly, what in fact it could and should represent is the organisation choosing.

to invest in building the competence and capability of the collective to ensure that the organisation is aligned, clear, capable and mature enough to not only raise the expectation of safety performance but to execute the operational environment required to deliver it on an ongoing basis. This action is required before any sustainable results can be achieved, thus measuring both input and output better reflects the reality of the organisation’s current state.

2015 will be the year organisations who are investing in building sustainable long term safety performance results will increase their discipline and focus on understanding and enhancing their safety culture and capability. This will better direct them as to ongoing changes required in their management and operational practices to build a sustainable high safety performance (freedom from risk) organisation.

3. Shared learning

2015 will see big data used to not only share insights across organisations but to build a global platform for communities to discuss direct action, lessons learnt, common failures and recognition and reward globally that can be applied locally.

In the age of Big Data we have never had so much information available to us as we do today. Coupled with the advancements in technology and development of mobile devices we have also never been more connected. 2015 is the year of ‘Real Time Learning’, data sharing and recognition of achievement to reduce harm and improve workplace safety globally!! Right…?

WRONG! The reality is we share very little useful and at times possibly lifesaving information we  have available! A consistent example of this is the number of repeat fatalities/serious injury that relate to a common issue, process failure, product or equipment and share similar causal factors globally but we only learn of this annually or by exception. We are very ineffective at sharing learning often within a single organisation, not to mention within an industry sector, across industries or national borders.

There are three reasons continuously offered to GSI when tabling this conversation;

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2015 will bring forward the discussion, remove the perceived barriers offered above and begin to see small, effective industry or informal organisational networks sharing not only data and trend information but more importantly shared learning that will directly begin to address potential common causes of harm region by region, industry by industry.

GSI is playing its small part in demonstrating industry leadership, supported by progressive industry bodies and of course engaged members. GSI is currently aggregating local data on a common platform and sharing this globally. One reality we can guarantee in 2015 is that our global community of members (23,000 users and growing) will be taking action, learning everyday and better prepared to deliver a safer world one organisation at a time.

If you would like a copy of the full Global Safety Index 2015 Outlook please ring 1800 446 339 or info@globalsafetyindex.com