Compliance specialists and HR teams responsible for managing compliance and safety certifications know that regulations are ever-evolving. In the hectic day-to-day, it’s easy to think of safety and compliance as an annoying “to-do” or a box to check. While being reactive might work in the short term, all too soon, you’ll be scrambling to catch up. Instead of risking facility safety and regulatory fines, it’s important to make regulatory compliance part of your strategic plan.
One way to do this? By establishing a strong culture of compliance. Instead of checking off a to-list that keeps the company safe (a very important thing!), compliance culture focuses on the employee and ensures that everyone on the team—from senior leadership down—is adopting a safety and compliance-first mentality in every aspect of the organization. This blog post delves into comprehensive strategies and practical steps for cultivating a robust compliance culture.
Process Safety Management
Before we talk about creating a culture of safety and regulatory compliance at work, it’s important to know why it might be necessary. First, when we talk about safety and regulatory compliance, we’re not just talking about the basics. Typically, this level of compliance goes hand in hand with process safety management (PSM).
What is PSM?
When you think about process safety management (PSM) you might have a good idea of the general outline: it’s required by OSHA for any US employer with a process that involves specific hazardous and/or flammable chemicals in quantities above 10,000 pounds. Per OSHA, “PSM is a “performance-based” standard that outlines key features of safety programs for controlling highly hazardous chemicals. Employers have the flexibility to tailor their safety programs to the unique conditions at their facilities.”
PSM Key Features
OSHA Process Safety Management Standard
OSHA’s PSM standard (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.119) lists the key features of an acceptable safety program that industries including refining, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, must implement, including:
- Compliance Audits: Regularly auditing your processes and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance with safety regulations and standards.
- Training: Providing comprehensive training for all employees on operational procedures, safety practices, and emergency response.
- Process Safety Information: Maintaining detailed records of all hazardous chemicals used, including their properties and handling procedures.
- Incident Investigation: Promptly investigating any safety incident to understand its cause and take steps to prevent future occurrences.
- Management of Change: Managing changes in processes, equipment, or personnel with a structured approach to assess safety impacts and necessary modifications.
- Hot Work Permits: Issuing permits for any hot work activities, like welding or cutting, to ensure safety measures are in place and risks are assessed.
- Operating Procedures: Developing clear, written instructions for safely conducting each process, including startup, shutdown, and emergency operations.
- Trade Secrets: Balancing the protection of trade secrets with the need to disclose enough information to ensure the safety of your processes and employees.
- Mechanical Integrity: Regularly inspecting and maintaining critical equipment to prevent failures and ensure safe operation.
- Emergency Planning and Response: Developing and regularly updating emergency response plans for potential incidents, including evacuation procedures and first aid measures.
- Employee Participation: Involving your team in regular safety discussions and encouraging them to report potential hazards or suggest improvements.
- Process Hazard Analysis: Conducting thorough analyses to identify potential risks in your processes and determining necessary precautions or modifications.
- Pre-startup Safety Review: Performing a safety review before starting any new or modified process to ensure all safety systems are functional.
- Contractors: Ensuring that contractors working on-site are informed about your company’s safety policies and procedures and understand their role in maintaining a safe environment.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials of Process Safety Management (PSM), it’s time to delve into practical ways to incorporate safety and compliance into your company’s daily operations.
Getting Ahead of Regulatory Changes in Safety & Compliance
First, a hard truth: regulations change frequently and without warning. To stay ahead, organizations must develop proactive systems for monitoring updates. This includes subscribing to regulatory news feeds, attending industry conferences, and engaging in professional networks. Integrating regulatory updates into daily operations requires a systematic approach. Regular training sessions, updates to operational manuals, and open forums for discussion are essential to ensuring that your entire team is aware and informed. Additionally, these efforts go a long way toward ensuring that every team member, from the front-line staff to the executive suite, understands the implications of these changes. Understanding ‘why’ something is necessary is crucial for achieving the buy-in necessary to drive compliance.
To keep your organization up-to-date regarding safety and compliance without spending hours manually scheduling training sessions, updating OSHA binders, and chasing news alerts, consider implementing compliance software. PSM software like APSM can streamline your workflow by tracking real-time alerts and updates, keeping you informed of the latest regulatory developments, and enabling you to plan for the future. Centralizing updates and changes with a software solution makes the process of tracking implementation straightforward, which can also go a long way toward aligning departments and teams.
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Creating a Culture of Safety & Compliance
Adopt a Structured Approach
The complexity of modern safety and compliance requirements can be daunting. To simplify, break down regulations into manageable, actionable steps. Use flowcharts, decision trees, and checklists to demystify complex regulations. APSM’s software aids in this simplification by providing structured templates and compliance checklists, ensuring that every regulatory requirement is addressed systematically.
Make Attention to Detail the Norm
Cultivating meticulousness in compliance-related tasks is vital. Regular internal audits, surprise checks, and feedback sessions contribute to a culture where attention to detail is paramount. Recognition programs for teams and individuals who demonstrate exemplary compliance practices can further encourage this mindset.
Prioritize and Delegate Tasks
Efficient compliance management involves smart prioritization and delegation. Identify tasks that are time-intensive and evaluate if they can be automated, streamlined, or delegated. Training and empowering team members to handle delegated tasks ensures that compliance processes are both efficient and effective.
Automate Manual Processes
The automation of compliance processes is a game-changer. It frees up valuable time and resources, allowing teams to focus on strategic aspects of compliance. APSM’s software shines in this domain, automating document management, deadline tracking, and even certain aspects of reporting. This automation transforms cumbersome, manual tasks into efficient, streamlined processes.
Aligning the Team For Safety & Compliance
Encourage Cross-Departmental Collaboration
One of the greatest challenges in compliance is ensuring cross-departmental synergy. Regular interdepartmental meetings, joint training sessions, and a unified compliance platform can significantly reduce the gaps. APSM’s software facilitates this synergy by providing a platform where different departments can collaborate, share information, and track collective progress. In addition, strive for clarity: clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of each department and team is crucial for effective compliance management. Clearly defined roles prevent overlaps and gaps in compliance efforts.
Offer Specialization and Continuous Learning
Every initiative needs champions—why not encourage your employees to lead the charge? In the realm of compliance, continuous learning is not optional; it’s essential. Encourage your team to engage in ongoing education, whether through online courses, workshops, or industry seminars. Specialization in particular areas of compliance can bring depth to your team’s expertise.
Leverage External Expertise
Sometimes, external expertise can provide the impetus needed for advanced compliance management. Engaging consultants, attending industry workshops, and utilizing resources from regulatory bodies can provide fresh perspectives and specialized knowledge. APSM’s network of experts and comprehensive resources can be particularly valuable in this regard.
Fostering Proactive Compliance
Plan For the Future
forward-thinking compliance strategy is one that anticipates future trends and regulatory shifts. This involves keeping an eye on regulatory discussions, industry trends, and technological advancements. APSM’s predictive analytics and trend monitoring can be instrumental in this proactive stance, helping you stay one step ahead.
Build a Corporate Safety & Compliance Strategy
For compliance to be truly effective, it must be woven into the fabric of the organization’s strategic planning. This means aligning compliance goals with business objectives and ensuring that compliance considerations are part of every major decision. APSM’s strategic planning tools can help integrate compliance seamlessly into your business strategy.
Cultivating a Safety & Compliance-Conscious Culture
Generating Leadership Buy-In
Leadership commitment to compliance sets the tone for the entire organization. Leaders who prioritize compliance in their actions and decisions send a powerful message about its importance. Regular communication from leadership about the value and necessity of compliance further reinforces this culture.
Communicating the ‘Why’ Behind Safety & Compliance
Understanding the ‘why’ behind compliance is as important as knowing the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’ Employees who understand the reasons behind compliance measures – be it ethical, legal, or business-related – are more likely to embrace these practices. Educational campaigns, storytelling, and case studies can be effective in communicating this message.
Measuring and Celebrating Safety & Compliance Success
Track Safety & Compliance Metrics
What gets measured gets managed. Regular tracking of compliance metrics not only helps in identifying areas for improvement but also provides opportunities to celebrate successes. Metrics such as the number of compliance incidents, audit results, and training completion rates offer valuable insights into the health of your compliance culture. APSM’s software offers robust tools for tracking these metrics, providing a clear picture of your compliance landscape.
Create a Culture of Recognition
A culture that recognizes and celebrates compliance achievements fosters a positive compliance environment. Acknowledgment in company meetings, newsletters, or formal awards can motivate teams and individuals to maintain high compliance standards.
The Best PSM Software
What To Look For & How to Choose
In the journey towards a robust compliance culture, APSM’s suite of tools and expertise acts as a powerful ally. By addressing the multifaceted aspects of compliance – from keeping abreast of regulatory changes to streamlining complex compliance processes – APSM’s software empowers organizations to navigate the compliance landscape confidently. The software’s capabilities in automating time-consuming tasks, enabling cross-departmental collaboration, and offering strategic insights make it an indispensable tool for any organization committed to strengthening its compliance culture.
Building a culture of compliance is an ongoing endeavor, demanding constant vigilance, adaptation, and a proactive approach. By implementing these advanced strategies and leveraging APSM’s comprehensive solutions, safety and compliance professionals can ensure their organizations are not only compliant with current standards but also well-prepared to meet future challenges.