Three Slips and Trips of HSMS Program Structuring 

By  doug@HSEWorkflows

HSE Program Elements

Did you plan this?

Too often, health and safety programs are built with no planned structure. This results in a patchwork of elements that don’t work together. Each element is independent of the others, making it difficult to get a full picture of the risks involved. There is no “one point of truth” that everyone can reference. Instead, there are multiple formats and platforms, each with its own set of rules and regulations. This makes it difficult to stay up-to-date and compliant with all the different requirements. As a result, the program becomes more a burden than a benefit. It’s time to rethink the way we build health and safety programs. We need to focus on creating a cohesive Health and Safety management system that everyone can understand and follow.

Here are three pain points that were common in many HSMS that I’ve been involved with,…

No Planned System Structure

An effective health, safety, and environmental program is based on a systematic approach that includes the identification of hazards and risks, the development of controls to address those risks, and ongoing monitoring to ensure that the controls are effective.

However, many HSE programs lack a well-defined structure, resulting in a patchwork of ad hoc procedures and activities. While some elements of the program may be well-defined, others are constantly changing, making it difficult to ensure that all hazards are being adequately addressed.

Without a clear structure, it is also difficult to assess the effectiveness of the HSE program. As a result, companies that fail to invest in a well-structured HSE program are more likely to experience accidents, injuries, and environmental incidents. Which leads to my second point, …

No “One Point of Truth”

If there isn’t a master document that is constantly updated, the program starts to splinter and becomes exponentially harder to manage.

This can cause major problems for HSE management who rely on these documents to be accurate and up to date.

An example would be when a company makes a revision to a JHA as a corrective action on project A while there is no change to the JHA on Project B. As projects are completed, the documentation at each site is different for the same company operation.

To avoid this, it is important to have a system in place where all revisions are made in one central location and then distributed to all relevant parties. This will ensure that everyone is working off of the same document and that changes are not made unilaterally.

Limiting access to make changes will dramatically strengthen your program, although you’ll have to take a stand and defend your “Gatekeeper” actions. You’re not trying to be the sole expert on any subject or change but there must be control of any changes to the program for the sake of consistency.

Multiple platforms and formats

Over time, an HSE program grows and morphs into an efficient tool or a constant exercise in frustration.

Most companies fail to recognize the number of platforms that they use to move information in their HSE management.

Field data/Office data/HSE/Payroll/HR/Cloud based 3rd party/Compliance

Scanned paper forms, digital forms on tablets, email, spreadsheets, reports, … PDF/XLS/CVS/WORD/JPG/PNG …

If organized and efficient, the program has a structure that brings all formats of documentation into a central hub. From this hub, the individual formats of data are configured to aid in the overall output of the program management.

When these workflows are planned for, review of the program is easily accomplished as the prebuilt workflows have been developed to accommodate the input types and how they are transformed into the desirable output for use in the overall program.

If unorganized, the individual elements exist and become siloes of information the requires constant re-entry, updating and summary to be of use in the overall program management.

This scenario is quite visible whenever an audit approaches and manifests into a team effort to source, convert, summarize, and present the elements of the program.

Conclusion, where to now.

Whiteboard a diagram of your HSMS elements and how they work with each other. Note the format, point of entry and timing of each input and map out how they provide data into the system, hence what value do they bring. Determine what “HUB” can be implemented that will tie the elements together as it accepts the different input formats of the elements

Gather all current element items and inventory them. All JHA’s, SOP’s, etc., and make a list that will be the current “Master List” , review each document and approve it for the list.

Take each KPI that you’re looking to measure, then work backwards to complete a trail of where the data enters the system, in what format, the availability in the typical reporting cycle and the route it takes to travel through the system until it’s utilized.

Sounds like a lot of work and time we don’t have.

Faced with the challenge, many organizations continue to press on with their HSE management programs requiring extra staffing and increased costs. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options or find that your current system isn’t working for you, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

At HSEWorkflows.com, we specialize in helping businesses create and implement HSMS workflows that efficiently meet their specific needs. Through planning, implementation and monitoring of unique workflows, our clients can improve the HSMS in their operations.

Whether you have an established system that needs a small adjustment or you’re struggling to get your program up and running, contact us today to discuss your organization’s unique requirements and see how we can help develop individual workflows that will take your HSE program to the next level.

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Doug is an Health and Safety Consultant, specializing in the development and implementation of digital H&S management systems, with an emphasis on building structured programs that eliminate busywork, optimize resources and reduce administrative costs for his clients.
Doug has written several courses and markets them through HSE Workflows.