John Mills is Nomad’s Head of QHSE and a chartered member of IOSH and the CQI. John overseas the global QHSE team.
A different thought process...
‘Safety is our number one priority’ – is a term overused by countless companies and industries across the world claiming to put safety at the top of the list above everything else in a company. Look across the Oil and Gas, Transport, Manufacturing and Construction sectors, and this is all you see everywhere. Is it really a number one priority? Let’s consider the perspectives and where this should actually fit into a company’s ‘must haves’.
Many Industries are driven almost to obsession to have safety as their ‘number one priority’
Any company surviving in the competitive world we now live in must juggle multiple risks and live issues with how they operate, how their industry operates and how their people (the culture of the organisation) operate, and what the customer wants or mandates from them.
On top of this challenging list, a company needs to make money, satisfy shareholders and fulfil development of people, product and challenges alongside supply chain management and logistics – all of which have risks, issues and ramifications for a company if not fulfilled, and therefore all of these are ‘priorities’ as well.
Yes, safety is vitally important, yes legal compliance is vitally important (it must be done – it’s the law) and can bring very large associated liability and ultimately fines if a company falls foul of such legislation and requirements, but can this be classed as number one priority? It may well be for any company who fell short of legislation or were involved in a serious accident and litigation case but for how long after that incident would the ‘priority’ change again?
The new International Standard ISO 45001 focuses on a system approach along with engagement and involvement of employees which is ground-breaking. This will assist industry to adopt an open approach to H&S management, drive collaboration inside companies and ultimately make organisations safer – but again is this a priority? Larger companies adopt this standard to drive their OH&S systems and gain external international certification to convey their compliance to stakeholders, customers and gain a competitive advantage in the market.