September 4, 2018

Managing Risk for Production, Quality and Incident Prevention: Part 2 – Alignment of HRM and HSE

This is the second article following the series of Risk Leadership Workshops I facilitated in July held in Australian capital cities. These sessions delivered a transformation from ‘safety thinking’ to ‘risk management thinking’.
The second key theme from the workshops was the need for alignment of the Human Resource Management (HRM) and the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Functions. Non-alignment can contribute to the failure of the ‘Safety First’ policy becoming an operational reality. This is referred to as the ‘Alignment Fallacy’ described in more detail in this article.
What are the gaps between these functions?
1. Lack of Human Resources Risk Assessment
The Entropy Model described in my previous article explains that human resources (HR) are an input for all work done within organizations, along with technologies, the physical workplace and the process being undertaken. The people engaged by the business, whether staff, contractors or sub-contractors, have residual risks and entropic risks. Residual risks are directly related to levels of competence whilst entropic risks are caused by people being in a degraded state eg fatigue, distraction, complacency and ill health.
The gap is that HR is insufficiently risk assessed as part of the development of an organization’s risk register. Profiling is needed and can be done by group of workers eg young, inexperienced workers or aging workers. It may also be necessary by individual eg personnel with disabilities.
Inclusion of HR profiling on the risk register provides the basis for alignment of HR and HSE strategies. This also enables synergies on data analytics, key performance indicators and service delivery to core business.
2. Lack of HRM Function Participation in Risk Assessments
To date, the involvement of the HRM Function in risk assessments has been limited to business level risk reviews with key risks being impacts such as industrial disputes and labor shortages. HR, in my experience, are seldom if ever involved in safety and operational risk assessments of new projects, changes to operations or baselining of the organizational risk profile.
The Entropy Model explains that for a business to understand its Total Risk Profile, it needs to understand the risk factors of its workforce and contractors. This informs the development and implementation of effective, targeted strategies based on risk and cost-benefit analysis. For instance, why would a company implement a safe act observation/coaching process for experienced, competent tradespersons or office engineers who are relatively low risk rather than focusing these efforts on new employees and trainees?  Do current ‘one-size-fits-all’ behavioral programs have an objective risk basis?
3. Integration of Risk into HRM Strategies and Tools
The second half of Productive Safety Management, which I had published internationally by Butterworth-Heinemann in 2003, focuses on integration of the HRM and HSE Functions. Key areas to create alignment include:
Developing management commitment and leadership progressively to build Risk Leadership Capacity. This is done strategically focusing firstly on systems knowledge training (know what), to values-based training (know why) and finally ‘Catalytic behavioral learning’ (know how). This final behavior basis is demonstrated through ownership and willingness to implement decisions and demonstrate leadership that becomes a catalyst to the desired risk management culture.
The Decision Model called ‘The Reasonableness Test’ ensures decisions, particularly those at the middle management and supervisory levels, are compatible with the business’ core driver, which is managing risk to pursue productivity, quality and HSE incident mitigation concurrently.
Consultative Processes enable participation and engagement of the workforce in risk management activities and delivers ownership of strategies, objectives and results at the operational level.
Scorecards at the business, business unit and leader levels balance and align deliverables within an ‘Achievement Cycle’ Performance Management System.
The training function is used to build Organizational Capacity that improve the business’ ability to manage risk through better systems review, improved problem-solving and decision making, and effective risk leadership. In Productive Safety Management this was illustrated as ‘The Capacity Reservoir’ which showed how return on investment can be lost through undesirable turnover (leakage). It also presented how the overflow of competencies leads to ‘Resourcefulness’ and continuous improvement.
A combined HRM and HSE ‘Cultural Health Scorecard’ is developed to drive business improvement in critical areas such as management commitment, shared ownership, decision-making, capacity building and employee participation.
Combined HRM and HSE Behavioral Audits are used to monitor progress towards business improvement on those critical areas in the ‘Cultural Health Scorecard’.
When Productive Safety Management was published in 2003, I received pushback on key areas due to the lack of maturity of the safety discipline as a business partner. The gaps in understanding related to:
The need for HSE and HRM alignment to pursue business improvement
The need to address production pressure, both real and perceived, at the organizational and individual levels, as real risks to business performance
That having a ‘Safety First’ policy does not ensure that safety first becomes an operational reality. This is due to non-alignment with core business and the need to address critical issues at the middle management, supervisory and operational levels.
It’s now accepted that business can benefit from managing risk to pursue productivity, quality work and HSE incident mitigation concurrently. The remaining gap is having the internal know-how to drive this improvement.

Tania Van der Stap, Founder and Principal Director of Align Risk Management
Tania Van der Stap is the Founder and Principal Director of Align Strategic Management Services Pty Ltd established in 2002, after having Productive Safety Management published internationally by Butterworth-Heinemann. The publication presents a strategic, multi-disciplinary management system for hazardous industries that ties safety and production together.

From 2002 to 2012, Tania provided HSE consulting services to Chevron’s Gorgon Project, Monadelphous, Baker Hughes, Fortescue Metals Group and Worley Parsons. Thereafter for 5 years, Tania took a HSE Manager’s role with AngloGold Ashanti Australia where she made significant improvements taking the department from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘proactive&rs
quo; on the HSE journey.

In late 2016, her company was rebadged to Align Risk Management specialising in HSE Consulting and Risk Leadership Programs for managers, supervisors, HSE professionals and workers. Her chapter on ‘Risk Leadership – A Multi-Disciplinary Approach’ has been accepted by the American Society of Safety Professionals and will be published in Safety Leadership and Professional Development ahead of the ASSP’s 2018 Safety Conference.

In addition to Productive Safety Management being a substantial, refereed publication, Tania’s credentials include academic qualifications in Commerce and also Public Health and Safety.

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