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Environment, Health & Safety

I was at a conference recently and was surprised to hear that while many organizations encourage their employees to record Near Misses in the course of their duties, some organizations then failed to perform any formal investigation and an appropriate root cause analysis for these events because of other priorities.

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A lot is written about making our staff accountable for Actions (or Tasks) assigned to them during many of the investigative or analysis processes embedded within our EHS management processes, yet many organizations seemingly fail to look at the effectiveness of these actions, and therefore knowingly accept that the original issue, that may have involved an injury or worse, could happen again.

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It’s surprising in today’s operating environment that many organizations still fail to fully embrace their stated EHS culture. While management will talk-the-talk regarding how they want zero injuries and zero environmental impacts, the observed behavior across their broader organization seems to be at odds with this.

 

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It is surprising that many organizations invest in considerable effort and expense developing and implementing Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) management systems, yet many organizations then seem to ignore performing regular reviews of these systems to ensure their effectiveness. Yet, over time their business grows in complexity with many factors that can potentially adversely impacting their OHSMS performance including:

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In a recent article, Are your safety metrics Leading or Lagging Indicators, the need to develop leading indicator metrics in order to take a proactive approach to workplace safety is highlighted. However, it just as importantly highlights that many organizations continue to incorrectly define and manage their own metrics to control the outcomes, which often involve some type of reward for some or all staff.

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We all hear about it all the time, workers injured while on the job and companies involved in environmental incidents.  So why does this continue to happen? To understand this, we have to understand how an organization assesses risk and how they plan to manage it.

Poorly managed risks, in addition to personal injury or loss, can adversely impact an organization's reputation, financial performance and in extreme cases business continuity.

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While many people are confused about what environment sustainability is and how it directly impacts them, smart companies are increasingly committing to new environmental sustainability initiatives.

More organizations are taking the lead in areas such as reducing their energy consumption, minimizing their use of natural resources such as water in production process, and eliminating emissions. These leading organizations are learning that by embracing sustainability initiatives, they can more often directly improve their organizations profitability, while helping drive innovation through the creation of new products and markets as a direct result of these efforts.

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The 1st January 2012 heralded the commencement of the new Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) harmonisation laws for many jurisdictions within Australia. For those jurisdictions that did not introduce the WHS harmonisation laws on this date, change is imminent.

Although there has been introduction of the WHS harmonisation laws through a Model Act, Model Regulations and Model Codes of Practice to ensure similar intent and spirit of compliance requirements, each jurisdiction has the choice of developing, implementing and administering their own WHS harmonisation laws under their own jurisdictional system. To this end, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania are yet to commence their respective WHS harmonisation legislation.

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I offer three predictions. First, it is clear that the emphasis on investigating alleged off-label promotion for pharmaceuticals will continue at the Federal level, bolstered by the increased cooperation between the Department of Justice and the Food and Drug Administration. On the state level, Attorneys General will turn increasingly to the use of the very broad consumer protection legislation that exists in virtually all states as a platform for their own investigations and settlements in this arena.

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