What does your business have in common with large commercial nuclear power plants and military bases? According to Shane Bush, president of BushCo Inc, and a blog on ehsworks1.blogspot.com; a lot! Mr. Bush will be presenting information at the ASSE SeminarFest in January 2014 on how characteristics of high-reliability organizations (HROs) can be used and adopted by any company to help improve safety and productivity. The blog states a HRO is a company that has a very “high potential for significant unwanted outcomes but have had relatively few incidences in comparison to the amount of risk.” A small company can learn from these five principals these large companies employ.
1.) Commitment to Resilience: If a failure happens, a company must be flexible enough to keep operations running. The requirements and regulations must not be so set in stone that any sort of failure will throw everything off.
2.) Deference to Expertise: HRO’s rely more on the person who is running the operation, the person with the most knowledge and experience with the job, than with someone in management that may not be as familiar with the ins and outs of a particular area. Safety experts are also highly valued and they may hold as much weight as management.
3.) Preoccupation with Failure: By being preoccupied with NOT failing, HRO’s are constantly looking at interactions between employees and the way the system runs. They are looking for places where operations may fail and are trying to plan ahead in order to prevent any sort of problem.
4.) Sensitivity to Operations: Analyzing and understanding each process within a facility helps safety professionals identify where problems may occur.
5.) Reluctance to Simplify Interpretations: HRO’s don’t downplay minor events. Instead they may do the opposite in order to fix and prevent any minor event from turning into a major event. By not ignoring small issues a company can protect their reputation as well as their employees.
These five principals are general enough to be implemented into smaller businesses and to help prevent major operation and safety problems. It would be interesting to see how a small company can change productivity and safety incidences with these large ideas in place.
“SeminarFest Highlights Using the Safety Principals of High-Reliability Organizations” www.ehsworks1.blogspot.com. December 23, 2013. January 14, 2014.