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HSE and quality paperwork getting in the way of your site work? In this first of a two part series, we explore 3 key strategies that can assist you to simplify your management system.

Tip 1 – Integrate Existing Good Practice into Your Management System

It is common for Organisations (and consultants) developing a management system to develop new procedures and tools to meet each requirement in the Standard.

A much better starting point is to gain an understanding of the requirement (e.g. Purchasing Control) then map out what your Organisation already does to meet the particular requirement (e.g. control risk in purchasing decisions). The result can then be formalised as your purchasing method within the Management System.

Team brainstorming or a gap analysis are simple methods for identifying what you already do to meet a requirement in the Standard(s). The Table below identifies further examples of what you may already be doing that contributes to meeting the requirements of the Standard(s).

Best of all, if you can draw on an established tool, you avoid all the effort, cost and cultural resistance to change that goes along within implementing something new.

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Tip 2 – Integrate Your Management Systems

Yes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – with “requirements” we need to meet arising from contractual requirements, OH&S and environmental regulations and Standards.

The good news is that ISO and Australian Standards on OH&S, Environment, Quality and even Risk Management are deliberately written to be highly compatible. Broadly, they all establish some principles, require you to build a management system (based on a Plan-Do-Check-Act model) and manage safety, environment and quality within your project delivery processes/ tasks.
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Think of your management system as an integrated risk management framework – for environment, OH&S and quality risks. Do you really need three separate procedures, internal audits, management review, incident reporting and managing non-conformances and taking corrective action? The short answer is no. ISO even includes an Annex in each Standard, highlighting equivalent requirements from each Standard (see also: http://www.irmsystems.com.au/resources). 

And let’s face it – to expect site staff to follow three separate Standard Operating Procedures (e.g. for materials storage, inspection and testing or pre-start checks) is not realistic.  

Tip 3 – Integrate Your Management System into Standard Project Delivery Processes

Yes – we are big on integration. All in a day’s work, trying to keep compliance simple!

Tip 3 is really extending concepts introduced in Tips 1 and 2 to the process level. “Process” means the sequence and interaction of steps you take to deliver your project.

Mapping out your project delivery processes can identify clear opportunities for integration with your management system. In fact, your process that should be the focus of your “quality” system. The “process approach” to improving customer satisfaction is a key principle of ISO 9001. In plain English, you need to plan, control, review and improve your process(es) over time to improve your ability to meet your customers’ needs.

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The process example above is for delivery of small to medium construction projects. To identify integration opportunities map out your process then ask yourself:

  1. How do we currently plan, control, monitor/ review and improve our process?
  2. Are there additional strategies at individual steps in the process (e.g. Establish Site) that we use to plan, control, monitor/ review and improve that particular step?
  3. How can we improve the process or a process step?
  4. Where in the process do OH&S and environmental hazards/ impacts and risk occur? Where in the process is the most effective opportunity to control identified risks?

Your answers to questions 1 to 3 should enable you to identify what you do already that will contribute to meeting ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and AS/NZS 4801 (i.e. integration opportunities).

A key principle of effective risk management is that the person creating/taking the risk needs to have some involvement in managing the risk (i.e. manage the risk where it occurs). Question 4 can help your Organisation determine if further in-process risk controls are required.

Suggested Actions

The Standards writing bodies (ISO and Australian Standards) overtly encourage you to integrate your management system and focus on your process. However, we still regularly see examples where the management system and project delivery processes are treated as distinct entities. Some immediate actions to break down this barrier:

  • Map out your core process(es). Take the process map to the next management meeting and ask the same questions above with the management team.
  • Include some “process”-focused audits in your internal audit schedule.
  • Encourage the perception that the “management system” is part and parcel of effective project delivery through induction, training and consultation.

Next Blog

Our next blog (September 2014) will continue the Key Tips theme, including:

  1. Demonstrated top management leadership – the key success factor for your management system.
  2. Ensuring your management system is risk-focused.
  3. Focusing on your audience.

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