Safety management is a dynamic field, presenting unique challenges and opportunities for professionals in the industry. The ever-changing nature of the job can be both exciting and overwhelming, akin to juggling delicate glass balls, each representing a critical aspect of safety. In this fast-paced environment, the key to success lies in implementing effective Safety Management Systems (SMS) that streamline processes and foster continuous improvement.

Embracing the Lack of a Light at the End of the Tunnel

Safety professionals often find themselves in a perpetual tunnel of tasks, with no clear light at the end. Rather than searching for an elusive endpoint, it’s crucial to accept that the nature of safety management is inherently demanding. The absence of a light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, job security. The focus should shift from seeking an endpoint to efficiently managing tasks and minimizing stress.

The Power of Recurring and Repeatable Processes

The heart of effective safety management lies in recurring processes. These processes act as a safety net, ensuring that critical aspects of the program are consistently addressed. Despite the unpredictable nature of safety management, having well-defined processes allows professionals to start each day with clarity and confidence. Even when disruptions occur, the structured processes provide a framework to handle challenges seamlessly.

Recurring processes are not just about ticking off items on a checklist; they are about creating a safety culture rooted in consistency and habit. Everything in safety management repeats, from regular inspections and training sessions to handling accidents. The goal is to establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) for oneself – a set of guidelines that ensure no aspect of safety is overlooked.

The Safety Management Cycle: A Blueprint for Recurring Processes

To create effective recurring processes, it’s essential to align them with the safety management cycle. The cycle involves identifying hazards, developing corrective actions, implementing them, coaching and observing, and analyzing results. Each of these stages should have its own set of processes, covering everything from employee hazard reports to regulatory audits.

Processes should encompass various activities, including inspections, self-audits, regulatory compliance checks, and the review of Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs). By integrating recurring processes into each stage of the safety management cycle, professionals can systematically address all aspects of safety, ensuring nothing is overlooked.

Building Continuous Improvement into Recurring Processes

Continuous improvement is the hallmark of a robust safety program. Rather than striving for monumental changes, safety professionals should focus on making incremental improvements. A grand vision can be broken down into achievable milestones, and recurring processes become the avenue for achieving these goals.

By working on three to five improvements at a time, safety professionals can avoid the pitfalls of trying to address everything simultaneously. Each inspection or reported hazard can serve as the catalyst for the next improvement project. This approach not only ensures a steady march towards improvement but also makes the process manageable for the team.

Updating Processes: The Living SOPs

Processes and SOPs are not static documents; they evolve with the evolving landscape of safety management. As professionals identify gaps or areas for improvement, processes should be updated to reflect these changes. Safety professionals should regularly pause to assess how processes can be enhanced, ensuring a continuous cycle of refinement.

Analyzing Data for Ongoing Enhancement

Regular analysis of safety data is a vital component of continuous improvement. Identifying gaps and potential areas for enhancement allows safety professionals to stay proactive. Whether it’s improving a specific process or updating an SOP, data analysis serves as the compass for steering the safety program towards excellence.

Becoming a Safety Influencer and Leader

As safety professionals consistently implement recurring processes and embrace continuous improvement, they position themselves as influencers and leaders in the field. Small, consistent wins accumulate over time, leading to substantial improvements. Other departments may even emulate these practices, further solidifying the professional’s reputation as a safety rock star.

In the realm of safety management, the absence of a light at the end of the tunnel is not a cause for concern but an opportunity for continuous improvement. By establishing and refining recurring processes aligned with the safety management cycle, professionals can navigate the dynamic landscape with confidence. Embracing the philosophy of continuous improvement transforms safety management into a well-oiled machine that not only ensures compliance but also elevates the overall safety culture of an organization. So, fellow safety enthusiasts, embrace the lack of a light at the end of the tunnel, and let your safety program shine through the power of effective Safety Management Systems.

Take Action

Implement recurring processes in your safety management role, turning the unpredictability into a well-oiled machine for continuous improvement. Embrace the power of small, consistent changes, prioritize three to five key improvements, and integrate a culture of continuous improvement into your safety programs.

If you’re unsure how to turn your work into a repeatable process, check out my FREE Course. This includes a handy workbook guiding you through the safety management cycle. Plug in your current practices and see how things naturally repeat. Be proactive, not reactive—visit thesafetygeek.com/freecourse, and let’s elevate your safety game together!

Safety Management Systems: Streamlining Processes for Continuous Improvement
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Safety Brye: [00:00:00] Safety management is one of those jobs where it's different every single day. While this keeps the job interesting, it can also make it very overwhelming. If you're feeling like you're juggling a ton of glass balls and you're struggling to keep them all up in the air, knowing all the time that if one of them drops, it's going to be bad.

I got you, my safety friend. This can all be remedied by running your program through recurring processes that not only relieve your stress, but builds a continuous improvement machine. Let me show you. Hey there, safety friends. Welcome to the Safety Geek Podcast. I'm Brye Sargent, CSP and 20 year safety professional.

After spending years training safety leaders across the globe for a large corporation and creating safety programs from the ground up over and over again. I am now sharing my processes

[00:01:00] and strategies with you. At The Safety Geek, you will learn how to manage an effective safety program that increases your management support and employee engagement, all the while helping you elevate your position and move up in your career.

If you're ready to step into the role of a safety influencer and leader, you're in the right place. Let's get to it.

So first off, safety management can feel like a never ending tunnel. And what I like to tell people is to just stop looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. It is never going to be there. And that is your job security. The fact that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is just so much to do when it comes to safety management. And even when you plan your days the right way, and you set up like task list of what you're going to do every day. Your day can get disrupted. All it

[00:02:00] takes is somebody getting hurt or somebody in management needing something and your whole day is disrupted. So, instead of searching for that light at the end of the tunnel, the goal should just be to get as much done as possible as you can and to feel as less stressed about it as you can.

And when you have your program running through recurring processes, then you're just running the program. You're keeping all of the gears oiled and you end up starting the day knowing exactly what you should be doing, believing yourself enough time. So that if you are disrupted, it ends up being okay.

And that is the power of recurring and repeatable processes. So, because there's so much to do in safety management that if you have everything that runs through a process, it allows you to make sure that everything is covered and that

[00:03:00] nothing gets missed. And you might be thinking like, Brye what are you talking about repeating processes? Everything we do in safety repeats. Over and over and over again. That's how we build consistency. That's how we build habits. That's how we change behaviors. Think about it. You don't just do an inspection once and never do it again. You inspect on a regular basis. You don't just have new hire training once and never do it again.

You're training on a regular basis. And yes, accidents are going to happen. That's inevitable. But how you handle them is a recurring process. So that way you make sure that nothing is missed, that you're running the accident through the right channels. So that way you're identifying the corrective action, and you're putting it in place. And the way I see it is that we write JHAs and SOPs, and we expect our team to follow those SOPs.

[00:04:00] But do we have SOPs for ourselves? And that's what recurring processes are. It's our own little SOP, our standard operating procedure. And there are different ways that you can create these SOPs. The way that I like to look at it is through the safety management cycle, which if you haven't taken my free course, I encourage you to check it out.

Just go to thesafetygeek.com/freecourse and it'll teach you about the safety management cycle as well as change management and other very useful tips in there. But the cycle has you identifying hazards, developing corrective actions, implementing them, coaching and observing on them, and then analyzing the results.

And you just do that over and over again. But what you have to think of is like in identifying hazards, you might have employee reports of hazards. So you set up recurring processes to make sure you're checking on employee reports of hazards.

[00:05:00] You might have inspections. You might have self audits. You might have regulatory audits. You might have JHAs and JHA reviews. You might have evaluations in your safety policies and programs. All of these should have processes that you just constantly are doing over and over again, regardless of what the JHA is, what area you're inspecting, or who reported the hazard. And then when things are found, you're basically running it through the cycle.

I found something, now I'm going to build a corrective action on it. I'm going to track and trend on it. So that is how we run everything in a cycle and through repeating processes. Unfortunately, when we're taught safety management, if you're brand new to it, you're probably like, I need to get to that because right now you're probably drinking out of a fire hose.

Right? And what you're experiencing is I have to know all the regulations and I have to train on certain things and I have to kind of watch people work and see what I can

[00:06:00] find that they're doing unsafe and correct it. Right? So, what you need to do is start putting all of those into processes and what you'll end up with is a long list of to do items.

That you do on a recurring basis, whether you're doing them weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, everything we do is recurring. And that is why there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And that's okay. Because it keeps us on track and it makes sure that nothing is missed. And what I find interesting is that when I find something that is missed, I just update my processes and then I'll never miss it again.

Right? So everything is recurring. So if you're finding yourself just kind of responding to whatever happens to fall within your inbox for that day, you're wasting a lot of time. So you want to make sure that you have processes set up for everything. And that is the power of continuous

[00:07:00] improvement and that's what these processes end up doing because every time you run through the safety management cycle again, you're improving your program just a little bit.

So, we in safety management, we try to make, like, really build bold moves or big moves or big changes, but it's those little tiny changes that are easier on our teams. This is one of the things I talk about in the free course is that what you want to do is create a grand vision, but then break it up into milestones.

So you're making tiny little changes towards that big grand vision. Then as you are improving your safety program, you always want to be working on three to five improvements at a time. We can very easily list like 20 things that we need to do within our safety program to make it better. But you can't work on everything all at once. So you just pick three to five of them and that's all that you focus on to get them completed and done so that you can

[00:08:00] move on to the next one. So the idea is to build continuous improvement into your recurring processes. So every inspection you do, or every hazard that is reported to you can become your next improvement project.

It can go on the list to be chosen at one time. And then you also want to make sure that you're always updating your processes to cover any new items that you've discovered. So remember, we're creating an SOP for safety. SOPs are living documents that get updated and changed regularly. So same thing with your processes.

As you find things that have been missed, then you might want to update your processes to make sure that they're not missed again in the future. And what I like to do is that as I am working through my safety management cycle, is I pause and I just ask myself, how can we do this better? How can we do this process, this JHA, this safe work practice, how can

[00:09:00] we do it better? This ensures that you are always making little baby steps towards improvement and every part of your safety program should be improved just a tiny little bit every one to two years. So that way you're always making that forward moving progress and on a regular basis, you want to analyze all of your data.

And make sure that you're identifying any gaps that may be in that data that you might be missing. Maybe it is an improvement that just needs to be made, or maybe it's a process that needs to be updated. When you have a continuous improvement machine, when you're running the safety management cycle over and over again, little by little, you're going to be making improvements.

And those small wins, they add up over time, they end up compounding on each other so that over time, you'll see huge improvements.

[00:10:00] And then you could be known as the person that is always making improvements and always making the company better. And what you will notice that will happen is that other departments will start mimicking you and that makes you look like a rock star. Will never forget the day that I was running my action planning as I normally would.

And then the quality department came over and said, you need to teach me how you're doing your action planning because we need to do the same thing. And as long as you're constantly making these tiny improvements you will naturally see successes like that. And they will build over time making you more marketable in the job market as well.

So if you're not sure about how your work can be a repeatable process, make sure that you're checking out the free course. It comes with this great workbook and it goes over the safety management cycle and it has

[00:11:00] you kind of plug in what you're currently doing into the cycle so that way you can see how things just tend to repeat.

And that way, when things do happen, you're no longer being reactive to it. You just look at it as like, if it isn't an emergency, and if it's not the process, we'll pick it up. You will definitely not miss anything. So go to thesafetygeek.com/freecourse to check that out. And like I said, it's filled with a lot more than just the safety management cycle.

I even give you some tips on building safety culture and how to actually present your safety initiatives to your team, so I hope you check it out. And I hope that you're seeing that it's okay that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that you're just going to be constantly tweaking your machine and making your machine a little bit better and a little bit better and a little bit better. And in the end, you're going to have a

[00:12:00] safety program that runs like clockwork. And don't worry, you're not working yourself out of a job. There is always something more that we can do to improve safety. Alrighty. I will see you in the next episode. Bye for now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Recurring Processes for Relief: Run programs through processes for stress relief and continuous improvement.
  • The Endless Tunnel Analogy: Recognizing the perpetual nature of safety management tasks and the importance of task completion.
  • Recurring Processes in Action: Harnessing the power of recurring processes as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for safety professionals.
  • Continuous Improvement Framework: Breaking down grand visions into achievable milestones for consistent, incremental improvement.
  • Building a Culture of Improvement: Integrating continuous improvement into recurring processes for sustained progress.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Now it’s your turn to embrace the journey of continuous improvement in your safety program. Remember, it’s okay that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, focus on constantly tweaking your approach, making it a bit better each time.

You’re not working yourself out of a job; you’re refining a safety program that will run like clockwork. There’s always room for improvement in safety, so take the reins and make it happen!

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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