It is a common cliché: safety is a line responsibility, right… However, is this really understood?

Nobody is more equipped with the authority and influence to change the safety culture of employees and contractors than line management. Obviously, health, safety and enviroment (HSE) professionals have an important role to play in developing the desired safety culture, however, their role is to coach and guide the process.

They can, however, be their own worst enemies at times, as they tend to take over the responsibility from line management in managing the safety and health of the teams.

They do this for a number of reasons: a desire to get things done, to build relationships with line management, not wanting to challenge the structures or process of the company, and because some still believe that managing safety is the responsibility of HSE professionals.

On the other hand, line management is often just too happy to let the HSE professionals take on the responsibility for the safety and health of their teams, as this frees them up to focus on other issues, including productivity and machine efficiencies.

Safety and health issues of the production teams is not an add-on to the responsibilities of line management, and it’s not uncommon for line managers to call on the HSE professionals when they feel safety and health needs to be a focus.

Line managers should, however, integrate their roles related to safety and health into their daily activities of running of the business.

Companies should do away with the slogan “safety first” and rather move towards “safe production first” or “safe engineering first”, as this promotes the integration of safety and health issues.

What to do to transfer the roles and responsibilities

HSE professionals need to understand what items are their responsibility as well as their role in coaching and guiding line managers to take responsibility for the safety and health of their respective teams.

Making line managers responsible does not diminish the role of the HSE professional. However, when line managers understand their areas of responsibility and they are given the tools and the know-how, this strengthens the safety culture, and, in turn, makes the job of the HSE professional easier.

To ensure maximum impact, HSE professionals cannot just transfer the responsibility and believe they have done their job. They need to ensure that there is a common understanding of who is responsible for what, and to ensure clear understanding of exactly what is required. To do this, companies should:

• conduct a workshop with senior line management and HSE professionals to agree on who should be responsible for what elements of health and safety;

• avoid using only off-the-shelf/generic answers and develop the roles and responsibilities that are aligned to the company structure and maturity level;

• obtain full buy-in and support from senior management;

• develop a clear guide on who is responsible for what elements, including what support should be provided by the HSE professionals; and

• train the various leaders and the HSE professionals in their respective roles and responsibilities.

Key roles and responsibilities

There is no defined list when developing and agreeing on the key roles and responsibilities. However, these could be categorised into three elements:

• administrative issues;

• operational issues; and

• auditing, follow-up and improvement-related issues.

Sites could even split the roles and responsibilities into three categories of management to ensure a clearer understanding of who needs to do what. This would include line managers, first line managers (supervisors and foremen), and HSE professionals.

The tables below provide some examples that can be listed as part of the three elements of roles and responsibilities. The complete guide needs to be tailored to the company or site-specific requirements, structures or maturity level and should be broken down into sub-elements.

The guide could also provide details of what documents should be referenced to provide additional information for each of the elements where applicable.

What should companies do?

In order to shift the mindset from the HSE department being responsible for safety to making it a line responsibility, it is important to have clear guidelines on who is responsible for what elements of the overall safety and health programmes.

This change will not happen overnight and will take time to entrench in the way business is run, however it will be more difficult to change the safety culture and move to the interdependent phase of safety culture if the roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined, understood and supported by all levels of management in the company.

The tables provide only a few of examples of what could be included in the roles and responsibilities guideline.

Full support and backing for this approach is needed by senior management to ensure success. This is also not a fix-all option, but it is more than likely to contribute to developing the desired safety culture and, in turn, assist in achieving continuous improvement in the safety performance.

Administrative Issues

Task

Line responsibility

Manager

Supervisor

Health safety and environment (HSE) support

Safety and health improvement plans

• Develop and communicate safety and health vision.

• Develop the plan with clear objectives, responsibilities and targets.

• Ensure plan is communicated to all stakeholders.

x

 

x

 

x

Ensure plan is aligned with the company HSE strategic plan.

Provide support in developing the strategies related to HSE.

Ensure top risks are considered when developing the HSE plan.

Reference

Company safety and health strategic plan

Development of safety operating procedures (SOPs)

• Appoint teams to conduct the assessments.

• Ensure SOPs are developed for routine tasks and revised on a regular basis.

• Approve SOPs (developed and reviewed).

• Ensure SOPs are revised as part of the overall risk-management approach.

x

 

x

 

x

x

 

x

x

Provide guidance as required.

Provide support in the principles of good quality SOPs.

Conduct quality checks on selected tasks to ensure standards are being met.

Operational Issues

Task

Line responsibility

Manager

Supervisor

HSE Support

Conducting of risk assessment

• Ensure that company risk management methodology is understood and implemented.

• Ensure task risk assessments are conducted for all tasks.

• Participate in selected risk assessments.

• Conduct audits of risk assessments as part of risk-based focused audits.

• Conduct quality checks on risk assessments conducted by the teams.

• Ensure risk revision project is defined and adhered to.

• Ensure resources are available to conduct/revise the risk assessments.

x

 

 

 

 

 

x

 

x

 

x

x

x

 

x

 

Provide specialist support on principles of conducting risk assessments.

Participate in selected risk assessments where and when possible.

Conduct quality checks on risk assessments conducted by the teams.

Check that the tasks with potential fatal and life-altering risks have been assessed.

Maintain a risk register for the site.

Reference

Company risk-assessment methodology

Developing the desired safety culture

• Understand the methodologies and critical controls.

• Communicate the safety message continuously.

• Take responsibility for injuries in area of responsibility.

• Develop own safety habits.

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

Coach leaders in their role in developing the safety culture.

Arrange training to provide support to line in developing a safety culture.

Develop own safety habits.

Auditing, follow up and improvement

Task

Line Responsibility

Manager

Supervisor

HSE Support

Management of risk-focused audits

• Ensure all managers participate in the audit programme.

• Ensure audits are focused on the critical controls such as permits, risk assessments, lock-out-tag-out.

• Conduct feedback session and report findings.

x

 

x

 

x

Provide risk-focused audit training.

Participate in risk-focused audits with the management team.

Take notes during feedback sessions and provide details to relevant managers.

Follow up if agreed actions have been closed.

Reference

Guidance note safety indicators

Follow up on action items, close out and effectiveness

(audit reports, meetings, risk assessments, incident investigations)

• Conduct follow-up audits to ensure action items have been closed out.

• Conduct follow-up audits and discussions with stakeholders to ensure actions taken are effective and have not added additional risks.

x

 

x

x

 

x

Conduct follow-up audits to ensure action items have been closed out.

Conduct follow-up audits and discussions with stakeholders to ensure actions taken are effective and have not added additional risks.

Report action items open and closed by due date on the reporting system.

Reference

Guidance note safety indicators

About The Author

Brian Darlington is the group head of safety and health for the Mondi Group, based in Vienna, Austria. He has filled the role since 2012 and is responsible for safety and health in more than 30 countries. Brian started working at Iscor before joining Mondi in 1987, working in Gauteng. In 2000 he transferred to the Kraft Division in Richards Bay. During 2005, Brian transferred to Europe, taking up the position of business unit SHE manager, responsible for SHE in paper mills in Austria, Hungary, Israel, Slovakia, Poland, South Africa and Russia, as well as forests operations in South Africa and Russia.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.