It has been said that if something can be measured, it can be improved. This principle not only applies to increased quality and performance of products used in our daily lives, but it equally applies to everyday business practices. Yes, including safety and health programs. Most safety and health programs do not reach their full potential for one of many reasons, one of which is the failure to implement a successful continuous improvement process.
Management support is crucial and can be achieved only if you can provide convincing factual data regarding the benefits, i.e., the return on investment that the process will provide. Obtaining factual data requires detailing all the issues by conducting a GAP analysis. This may take time and outside resources to understand the intricacies of safety and health, BUT it really is at the crux of success. Remember, you need to correctly identify the issues in order to correct the problems.
Completing the GAP analysis will allow you to establish measurable goals and to develop very specific action plans that are critical to success. Action plans should be very short statements of what needs to be done, by whom and by when and with what results. It is important to point out that at this point the process is going to get more difficult, because it will require more commitment, more knowledge, more experience, more cooperation and involvement from more individuals.
As you begin to implement the action plans, you also need to begin the process of monitoring progress by collecting data. Remember that monitoring progress requires the use of objective measurable data which will identify how the process is progressing. This information will then allow you to modify the goals and actions plans as needed and provide reports back to management demonstrating the success of the safety and health program. Remember, management will commit its resources only if there is a clear path to success.
Carl Vasquez, CSP, ASP, TSSP, is Director-Safety, Education & Training, for the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA).