Many companies will say they value safety. They’ll also say they value quality and the environment, and they’ll say they follow regulations. They may even have people assigned to each area of compliance.But the question isn’t if they value those things…the question is: how are these things valued relative to other things in the company? “That’s where the rub lies,” says Raimund Laqua, founder and Chief Compliance Engineer at Lean Compliance Consulting, Inc. Raimund’s focus is helping companies in highly-regulated, high-risk industries improve their compliance programs including safety and security, quality, regulatory, and environmental objectives. He’s helped companies for more than 25 years with his technical knowledge and strategic approach across a variety of industries. We interviewed Raimund about signs a company isn’t approaching safety as it should. We also spoke to him about how companies should be thinking differently about compliance. Here’s what we learned about “knowing where you want to go” in terms of safety and compliance.
How to Tell If Your Company Really Values Safety
A quick test to see if your company is reactive or proactive when it comes to safety: All you need to do is look at how your company acts towards compliance. Then you can see what your leaders (and the company) value most. A few examples of behaviors that signal a leader is missing the point when it comes to safety and compliance:
- If a leader thinks of compliance as a necessary evil. If he/she sees compliance as something he/she has to do or are compelled to do, it can signal a problem.
- If a leader waits for an auditor to tell the company what and how to improve. In other words, this is when someone doesn’t take ownership of his/her compliance.
- If a leader does nothing to improve until the company is fined, or until some other form of action is taken against his/her/company. “They are reactive instead of being proactive in this case,” explains Raimund.
- If a leader has no idea what to measure. “This [can imply] he/she don’t know what their goals are. In fact, it is reported in a recent HBR article that 70% of companies do not measure the effectiveness of their compliance programs.”
- If a leader “pushes” all compliance onto frontline workers. If leaders don’t take responsibility for the unsafe conditions, safety, systems, and processes that workers are exposed to, again, it’s a sign they don’t have the right mindset.
- If a leader has to constantly be pushed to invest in compliance. “Convincing leadership to invest in compliance is like pushing rope. Many have given up trying to convince them of doing something they don’t want to do,” says Raimund. You might ask yourself, why do they need to be convinced that safety is something to invest in? That’s a good question!
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Becoming More Proactive About Compliance
iReportSource is a complete Safety Management Software that can help you save time, reduce risk, and improve employee safety.SCHEDULE A DEMO AND SEE HOW IT WORKS
Raimund has given a great deal of thought to this view—or you could say, this problem—with compliance. After all, it’s scary to think how some leaders would rather wait until they are fined instead of avoiding incidents in the first place.
How do you shift away from such a reactive mindset…and move towards one that values safety, and is more proactive?
Raimund explains that it starts with taking ownership of your obligations, and that means you need to define what they are. Here’s 3 ways to do that, and to move the pendulum from reactive to proactive compliance: 1. Get really clear on all stakeholder obligations. Said another way, consider all stakeholder obligations as requirements (mandatory and voluntary). “It should not be unusual for a company to choose a higher standard than the low water mark of government regulations. Knowing where you are heading will help guide your compliance efforts,” says Raimund. Knowing where you are headed will also make sure that you’re improving those things that increase the certainty of achieving certain business outcomes, too. 2. Do what it takes to improve compliance on an incremental and continuous basis. “Incrementally and continuously improve compliance in the same way as you apply continuous improvement to the production process,” explains Raimund. 3. Make sure you have real-time monitoring. You need tools and support that allows you to know your ability to meet and go beyond minimum compliance. “Proactive companies know their level of compliance today, in the past, and more importantly if there is sufficient capability of being in compliance tomorrow,” says Raimund.” Remember that continuous value requires continuous compliance. Keep in mind that compliance delivers value to a company’s stakeholders because it makes sure obligations are met consistently. And, it also makes sure they are held to the highest standards. “This builds trust, reduces risks, and improves customer loyalty. Companies that do not value these programs will experience the opposite: they increase uncertainty, increase risk, and lose support of key people,” says Raimund.
Don’t Just Comply…Achieve Safety Excellence
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