HSE Policy Statement Disconnect

We all like to think our HSE plan is good and it has everything in it; even a bit extra,  just in case. But how many times have you tested it against your Company HSE Policy that is mounted proudly in your Foyer?

Shane Lishman is a seasoned Health and Safety practitioner.
Shane Lishman is a seasoned Health and Safety practitioner address the HSE Policy

Shane Lishman, Managing Director of CHSEMS in Liberia shares his experience in answering this very valid question.

I have been to many companies that have both a policy and HSE plan in place, but when asked “Has your policy been Audited?”,   I often get a funny look.

 I am immediately referred to their system, or plan for the year and how effective it is in reducing injuries.  But what I am asking for is to show me your commitment against your Policy for the people mentioned normally in the policy, for the number of controls you have introduced or implemented this year, and the cost of these controls as part of your operating or capital expenditure.  I normally draw a blank on the faces of CEO’s and managers when confronted with the comparison between what is promised and what is delivered.

Section 7 of the OHSAct, states that a health & safety policy must describe the business, its operations and what it intends to do to promote health and safety in the workplace. Adding to that, many ISO standards require a reference to adherence to it and to continually improve the business operations.

Taking the few lines on a H&S policy statement and comparing it with the overall health & safety plan, sometimes offers a revealing “disconnect”. By that I mean that your policy statement may include aspects of your program that is not included in your program, such as continuous improvement or management commitment.

H&S Policy
A typical HSE Policy statement with a list of commitments

This is my short way to do identify this “disconnect”, but it can be changed to suit the industry.

1.       Take your HSE Plan and divided it into the various methods of controls,

  • Substitution,
  • Separation,
  • Engineering Controls,
  • Administrative Controls and lastly the
  • PPE control

2.       Now determine what percentage of your HSE Plan is aimed at each abovementioned Control

3.       What is the percentage Budget allocated to each?

4.       What is the Designers Input in 1. Above, allocate for each control.

5.       What is the OHS Professional input into 1. Above

6.       What skills base is required to execute 1. + 2

7.       For the project, Job, Task to be done e.g. construction; how has 3, 4.5. and 6 influenced the execution

8.       How will items 3 to 7 above be influenced at site level by the Project Manager, Construction Manager etc. Vs the allocated budget e.g. HSE Budget to execute all the above.

9.       Measure the above against 1.

10.   Now test the above against your HSE Policy, e.g., in Rands and Cents – Actual vs. budgeted and secondly Policy stating what it will do e.g.  We will ensure that there are no environmental impacts – quite a common one. (But it needs to be measured against all the descriptors in the policy).

The reality is very different from the truth: what is often found that what is said or stated in the company HSE Policy are just words, action very often happen, acceptable risk is often used as an argument when the findings are poor, or “that is not what we intended”.

Are we serious about what we bravely and proudly exhibiting to our visitors in our foyer?

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