Keeping workers safe in a changing regulatory world.

November 22, 2016

Denis Slade, Business Improvement Analyst at SAI Global, discusses how an effective management system can help you protect your business and provide the best processes for ensuring that you are monitoring, implementing and communicating regulatory change.


Keeping workers safe is at the top of the list of priorities for all organisations and one of the main goals as a manager is that your systems function as planned when the statutory and regulatory environment changes.


Monitoring for changes, implementing changes, communicating changes and checking for compliance each have their own challenges, especially if your business has no system in place to provide structure and discipline to make your life easier.


Without a system in place, monitoring for changes to statutory and regulatory requirements can be difficult. Sure, there are plenty of government and private websites where you can sign up for notifications, but without processes and procedures in place, there's a risk that the wrong person is on the newsfeed, they're too busy to act on any changes and there's no guarantee they still work for you - in which case, you miss it altogether! An effective management system helps provide the discipline needed for your organisation to identify its requirements and how to monitor for changes. 


Once you realise there's been a change, how does your organisation implement and embed compliant practices? Without a system in place, chances are the person responsible for safety and environmental management will send an email to all staff late on a Friday afternoon and hope that all is well. If you're running a small business, chances are that's you and you'll get to it on Monday morning. Organisations with effective management systems have clear roles and responsibilities for implementing changes, methods for reviewing new procedures and discipline for implementing the new world.


Once you implement new processes and procedures, communicating them effectively to the right people becomes the next challenge. A company-wide email is probably the tool of choice for organisations without a robust communication system. This might seem like an effective option, but as we know, many emails go unread, especially if the words “New procedure” are in the subject line. An effective management system helps provide you with a more robust set of consultation and communication tools and might include regular tool-box talks, team meetings, lunch 'n' learn sessions and formal committee meetings.


Organisations without effective management systems may stop at that point and assume the business is under control. But how do you know the changes have been embedded and are working as planned? Without a management system in place, this checking step becomes difficult, performance indicators are probably lagging and the first time you know the process has a problem is when someone gets hurt. An effective management system revolves around a plan-do-check-act cycle, where robust internal audit and management review processes provide more effective methods to see if everything is going to plan and help you change direction when needed.


Keeping workers safe in an ever changing and complex world will always be a challenge, for organisations large and small, for profit or not. Effective management systems help provide the framework necessary to monitor changes and implement more robust methods to embed, communicate and improve processes to deal with a changing environment.


Learn more about how quality management can help you manage regulatory change in your organisation.


Denis Slade is a business improvement and Quality Management Systems expert. He joined SAI Global as a Quality and OHS auditor in 2011 and he believes integrating quality and safety into every business process is one way to build an intelligent approach to risk management. This also makes commercial sense as it drives real improvement, increases staff engagement and provides the foundations for long term business growth.