Home » MANAGING BEST PRACTICES: How to implement best practices
Risk management usually applies to an organization. Behavioral change focuses more on the individual.
Table 1 above summarizes how the steps/stages for both of these concepts are connected by common elements.
1 - Identification/pre-contemplation
This critical step/stage requires the initiative of an EHS pro. The pro has to get beyond the “ignorance is bliss” position. Exploration and discovery are needed. EHS pros will have to step out of their comfort zone. Beyond the basic “what if” scenarios, a variety of risk identification processes â€” such as objective-based risk identification, common-risk checking and risk charting â€” may be employed. Facts as well as opinions come into play.
Here are a few thoughts that may spur your imagination at this step/stage: biomonitoring, genetic testing, medical surveillance, exposure registries, bioaccumulation, obesity, certification and pandemic.
2 - Assessment/contemplation
The basic formula to consider here is severity X probability = risk. How severe could the problem be? How often will the problem occur? Does the risk consider uncertainty? Risk must go beyond simple injury/illness and property loss considerations.
For example, could there be a risk to corporate or personal reputation? How about quality of life? Could addressing the risk be a competitive advantage for the employer? This step/stage should involve input from a team of various experts in business management, finance, human resources, public relations, ethics and law.
The team should give a “yes” or “no” response to the question of whether the problem should be addressed, or set a date for the problem to be revisited. The problem should not sit in limbo. Remember, during this step/stage we’re looking for what is possible to achieve, not just what is common practice. As an EHS pro, you should appeal by reason (e.g. logic and scientific method) and possibly, emotion, that best EHS practices should be employed. Hold the line on your views. Other people on the team could have strong opposing views with equally valid merits. The point of this step/stage is that a collective decision is reached on what to do.
3 - Plan/preparation
Beyond the basic hierarchy of controls (i.e. engineering, administrative and PPE), the EHS pro should understand risk management concepts such as risk retention (e.g. self insurance) and risk transfer (e.g. insurance or contract/outsource the risk to a third party). The step/stage #2 above emphasized the team; here the EHS pro may be mostly alone with their expertise, or a consultant’s expertise, to develop a plan to address the problem.
The plan should be reviewed and approved, however, by the team that participated in the assessment/contemplation.
4 - Implementation/action
Although the best practice may be singly viewed as a technique, method, activity, incentive or reward, it should be integrated into an EHS management system such as ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 for best success. A key reason for this advice is that management systems usually spread controls and workload across the entire organization, and not just on the shoulders of the EHS pro.
5 - Review/maintenance
Best practices eventually become good management practices and the industry standard. Best practices are a pursuit of continual improvement. A metric and periodic audit should be developed for the best practice to ensure that it does not regress. For best success, the metric should be integrated into other management metrics such as a Balanced Scorecard for the organization/individual.
Among the articles in the August 2020 issue of ISHN Magazine, we have information on creating a spill response plan, reopening workplaces amid COVID-19, advice on choosing EHS software, tips on caring for FR clothing, and much more.