Health, Safety, and Environmental processes directly impact every aspect of an engineering and construction project. We understand this at Optimation, which is why we have worked hard to develop a total approach to HSE challenges. Our HSE process is integral to our operations whether we are moving a manufacturing line from one plant to another, designing and fabricating a new line from client specifications, or providing additional multi-engineering and skilled trades services. The reason behind this is clear: when an organization integrates HSE programs into everyday roles and responsibilities, you get improved - bottom up/top down performance. What is already known and proven is that HSE performance is measurable both qualitatively and quantitatively. Lower incident and injury rates ultimately mean lower employee turnover, higher productivity, and lower overhead costs. This translates into completion of a project on time, on budget, and without incident.
I was recently attending a morning work brief for energized electrical work where the person in charge of the brief was an Optimation Apprentice Electrician with two years of experience. The Apprentice Electrician addressed the hazards that the team would face that day and the mitigations they would use to lower their exposure. The brief was well done! This is a great leading indicator of how things would go on that project. Sometimes allowing someone to teach material is the best way for them to learn it. I believe employees will protect themselves and others when given the express authority to do so. In other words, we should always continue to encourage participatory safety programs and support “stop work authority”. Never hesitate to assign safety responsibilities and authorities to trained, competent employees. This gives them direct access to the process which makes a Safety Professional or Safety Technician a supportive tool rather than a policing force.
I have seen many different HSE strategies and program mantras. One used successfully by the United States Navy is the Nuclear Work Model: Training, Technical Procedures, and Supervision.
- Training – this is the knowledge and experience of the team that is assigned the work. Having qualified people with a validation process is a positive leading indicator. The more training and experience the team has, the less supervision, and procedural guidance the team needs. This sums up an efficient approach.
- Technical procedures- Specific instructions to be followed. Are they correct? Are they detailed enough? You want to have the right technical guidance that is both clear and concise. Knowing the qualification level of the audience is imperative. The more detailed the step by step guidance is, the less training you need.
- Supervision- Instead of just watching a task, have a questioning attitude. Find out if everyone is prepared for the task at hand and ready to accomplish it safely. Oversight can be interpreted as nannying or policing, but only if you let it be misused. The more supervisors and safety oversite involved with the work, the less training and technical guidance you need.
The point of this model is that every situation is different. Operations can demand extensive training rather than extensive oversite. They can also demand extensive engineering procedures with engineering oversite versus several hours of training. We started to use some of these elements at Optimation which has produced some great results for us and our clients. Employee feedback has been positive as well. Integrating these elements into daily activities has helped projects become more efficient with a higher level of safety maturity and work quality. For example, our training program grew by adding additional content in some areas like hazard identification, confined space entry, and fall arrest rescue procedures. This has allowed the oversite of these programs to scale back which allows more autonomy on the ground. Optimation designed it’s HSE process to work from cradle to grave. Clients have appreciated the multifaceted capabilities that Optimation can bring to bear, the proverbial one stop shop for design, fabrication, assembly, and start-up with occupational safety and health embedded within. One of the things our clients have consistently valued while working with us is our approach to HSE challenges and the adaptability of our team given challenging circumstances. It has become one of our defining assets and I am proud to be a part small part of it.
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