Safety compliance challenges have never been starker than in this age of rapidly shifting regulations. But achieving compliance is still possible.
Of course, senior leaders will have to redirect their safety compliance efforts away from piecemeal interventions and toward an enterprise-wide, risk-based approach. What does that strategy entail, exactly?
For starters, safety compliance teams will have to begin with identifying the areas in the organisation with the highest compliance risk, then recalibrating compliance to monitor those risks. What concrete steps to take from there? We propose two:
- Developing an overarching framework for safety compliance, then
- Triaging risk based on pre-established criteria
When it comes to developing a single framework for safety compliance, organisations should develop a unifying thread to govern processes taken and tools procured. That strategy should be centered on an understanding of the company’s complete compliance risk, especially levels of regulatory scrutiny. After all, levels of regulatory scrutiny are the best indicators of future scrutiny.
Businesses aren’t static, though. And so, compliance risk assessments need to be done regularly (experts recommend annually), especially after major business changes like COVID-19.
The same logic applies to the oft-changing risk and regulatory environment around the business. Teams shouldn’t just focus on once-in-a-generation safety reforms. They also need to be on the lookout for tweaks to statutes, standards, regulations, and court rulings, which also affect the company’s compliance picture.
We also argue that partners need to be part of this calculus, as well. Vendors, contractors, suppliers, especially those cited in the past, increase safety compliance risk. The net: third-party business relationships should be factored into a company’s risk-monitoring framework.
After isolating all potential compliance risks, teams should move ahead and analyse those risks, asking themselves how likely an individual risk is to occur and the potential impact of that risk to the company were it to become a safety compliance incident.
Then comes compliance risk prioritisation, better understood as triaging risk based on pre-established criteria. Companies don’t have infinite resources to deal with identified compliance risk, especially now. Instead, they will have to use a standardised risk methodology, usually a risk matrix, to determine which risks they will deal with, an assessment often made based on (proportional) levels of risk.
Finally, the safety compliance decision maker, usually a C-level executive reporting directly into the Board’s audit committee, will need to sign off on risk controls, the actual strategies and tools teams will implement to manage high-level risk and promote compliance, either by mitigating the risk or eliminating it altogether.
To make this staged approach work, teams will need to ensure that their processes, policies, and procedures are all standardised. Also: the centralisation of the safety compliance function should be reinforced by training and education, as well as clear reporting methods and mechanisms, which keep due diligence and risk assessment efforts current.
When it comes down to it, safety compliance management is just another way of monitoring relevant business changes. But the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated how rapidly businesses change. When they do, safety compliance teams need be able to document those changes, whether recording observations or conducting investigations. Keeping information current is therefore vital.
But it’s too big a task for manual processes, alone. To remain resilient, safety compliance needs a battle-tested, proactive approach, automated processes supported by advanced technology to sure up reporting.
Integrated workplace safety management software gives you the functionality you need to manage a safety compliance incident, as well as learn from that incident by investigating its root cause, so as to proactively prevent future incidents. To find out which capabilities make the most sense, download our safety buyer’s guide.