Health & Safety – Monitoring and Review

by Chas Bray | May 4, 2022 | Blog

An essential component of any health and safety management system is our monitoring and review process, this allows us to accurately assess our existing controls alongside risks to develop an effective plan of action.

Health and Safety management systems normally work on a PDCA system (Plan, Do, Check, Act). Monitoring and review form part of the CHECK and ACT sections of most safety management systems, including the requirements within ISO 45001 (2018) and recommendations made within HS(G) 65.

Organisations need to do this for the following reasons:

• Think about where you are now and where you need to be
• Say what you want to achieve, who will be responsible for what, how you will achieve your aims, and how you will measure your success. You may need to write down this policy and your plan to deliver it
• Decide how you will measure performance. Think about ways to do this that go beyond looking at accident figures – look for leading as well as lagging indicators
• Consider fire and other emergencies. Co-operate with anyone who shares your workplace and co-ordinate plans with them
• Remember to plan for changes and identify any specific legal requirements that apply to you

• Identify your risk profile
> Assess the risks, identify what could cause harm in the workplace, who it could harm and how, and what you will do to manage the risk
> Decide what the priorities are and identify the biggest risks
• Organise your activities to deliver your plans
In particular, aim to:
> Involve workers and communicate, so that everyone is clear on what is needed and can discuss issues – develop positive attitudes and behaviours
> Provide adequate resources, including competent advice where needed
• Implement your plan
> Decide on the preventive and protective measures needed and put them in place
> Provide the right tools and equipment to do the job and keep them maintained
> Train and instruct, to ensure everyone is competent to carry out their work
> Supervise to make sure that arrangements are followed

• Measure your performance
> Make sure that your plans have been implemented, ‘paperwork’ on its own is not a good performance measure
> Assess how well the risks are being controlled and if you are achieving your aims. In some circumstances, formal audits may be useful
• Investigate the causes of accidents, incidents or near misses

• Review your performance
> Revisit plans, policy documents and risk assessments to see if they need updating
> Learn from accidents and incidents, ill-health data, errors and relevant experience, including from other organisations
• Act on lessons learned, including from audit and inspection reports

The Monitoring and Review Process

Organisations require a monitoring and review process, to ensure:
Legal requirement to monitor and review health and safety within an organisation can be demonstrated
Formal Health and Safety management systems, such as ISO 45001, require this as part of the drive for continual improvement and to attain or retain formal accreditation to demonstrate compliance
Organisations can measure their performance against set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), targets and objectives
To demonstrate management’s commitment to Health and Safety
To ensure that hazards and risks are being controlled within an organisation
After accidents or incidents, it is important to review procedures to prevent reoccurrence
It involves workers from all tiers of organisational structure promoting ownership, improving worker morale, along with the creation and maintenance of a positive Health and Safety culture
Where there are changes in organisational structure, it enables new key workers to assess and make changes to existing policy and procedures where required
New technology and techniques mean that improvements can be made. Once implemented it is important to assess their effectiveness
All organisations have staff turnover, and it is essential that periodic monitoring and review assess that workers are still maintaining the standards required
Monitoring and review can be done at all levels, from ground floor work to leadership and it ensures the continual maintenance of organisational standards and legal compliance
Changes in location, premises, layout or processes mean that previous assessments of hazards and risks may be obsolete or need improvement
Periodic monitoring and review is good practice and can be used to provide safer workplaces, improve systems, check compliance and provide information for benchmarking against industry standards or other similar organisations

Monitoring and Measuring Performance

When monitoring and measuring performance there must be benchmarks, KPIs and standards to measure against.

Performance measures can be:
• Active: Looks at performance based on leading indicators such as KPIs and standards. This type of monitoring is usually performed regularly on set schedules e.g., an annual review of a risk assessment
• Reactive: Measures past performance based on lagging indicators such as ill-health and absence statistics. It is performed after incidents or accidents to investigate root and immediate causes
• Qualitative: Descriptive ways of identifying performance such as low/med/high categories, without a fixed value
• Quantitative: Methods employing specific criteria or numerical strategies for assessment, such as a fault tree analysis or event tree analysis
• Objective: Based on facts and figures, such as taking measurements or sampling the environment
• Subjective: Based on opinion and competent judgement, such as risk assessment

Monitoring takes several forms and will involve a variety of personnel including workers, supervisors, managers and directors. Specialist advisors may be called in to assist where there are specific hazards or processes that exceed the competence of organisational personnel.

It will involve watching processes and workers, speaking to people to assess understanding, alongside examining written reports and documents that form the Health and Safety management system e.g., Health and Safety policy, risk assessments, training records and other relevant documentation.

Some monitoring techniques include:
• Workplace Inspections: This is a physical observation of the work area, equipment use and workers. It is usually carried out by supervisors or line managers. It looks at whether procedures for safe working are being followed e.g., PPE being used correctly, the work area is kept tidy (housekeeping) and risks being suitably controlled. Ideally, these should be on a schedule, although more realistic observations can be made with ad hoc inspections
• Equipment inspections: Periodic maintenance and inspection such as planned preventative maintenance (PPM) on a schedule or ‘per-use’ checks by the operator. This can identify if there are any recurring faults which could indicate misuse or defects
• Safety tours: Performed by a management team to check specific areas of work, such as the use of a permit to work system, or a specific part of a manufacturing process. It demonstrates management’s commitment to workers
• Safety surveys: A particular aspect of a process that is assessed for risk by competent staff. This could involve the input from an external specialist. It looks at the particular hazards and associated risks in conjunction with existing assessments to ensure they are effective. It can include taking specialist readings for things such as noise, radiation, vibration, repetition of actions, etc
• Safety sampling: Used to measure the potential for accidents. It can be performed by supervisors, workforce representatives or OHS personnel. The defects that are spotted are noted and the total number of defects is added up to give an index of accident potential. It is usually a timed activity over a nominated route and is repeated periodically to determine improvement or deterioration
• Behavioural sampling: An observation of work followed by a discussion with the workers involved to assess their understanding of why they approach tasks in a specific way. Workers are encouraged to suggest improvements themselves and give a different viewpoint to a manager or supervisor
• Environmental sampling: Sampling and assessment of the working atmosphere for hazardous substances and calculating exposure times. This will be benchmarked against industrial and legal tolerance levels e.g., EH40, to assess what further actions are required to control the risks to workers
• Audits: A formal assessment of the Health and Safety management system as a whole, by persons who have been specifically trained and are competent. It will look at the required standards and assess the performance of the actual working practice. Audits focus on the Health and Safety policy and associated procedures, in conjunction with records of incidents, accidents and other lagging indicators. There will be a set checklist of areas to cover, and results will then be collated into a formal written report with recommendations for improvement. This will then be presented to the senior management team for review. Audits can be performed by staff inside the organisation or by external auditors:
> Internal: When staff know the organisation it can be a cheaper option and workers know the staff member, so they may be more receptive. However internal auditors may not be competent in all areas and could be influenced or biased due to connections to workers or management
> External: An auditor will be formally trained and competent but may not be as knowledgeable about the organisation. Workers are less likely to be receptive due to a lack of familiarity with the person or team and could be quite defensive. It is likely to be more expensive as suitable resources and facilities will be needed by the auditors. However, external auditors will not be bias in their report and will not be influenced by management or leaders

The Review Process

Monitoring and measuring performance are all very well but will be completely ineffective if the results are not monitored and then reviewed by the supervisors, managers and senior management team of the organisation. Ideally, one of the directors should be made responsible for overseeing this and bringing areas of concern to the attention of the full board.

Senior management needs to assess the moral, legal and economic implications of any results and recommendations to ensure that any absolute duties are complied with and that risks are reduced to as low as reasonably practicable, considering any developments in technology and processes. Even areas that are compliant with standards should be reviewed to see where they can be improved.

Once assessed, actions for improvement should be developed and presented to workers in all areas for their feedback and comments on how they feel the actions should be implemented. When consulting workers on reviews, information should be communicated to all workers through various mediums including safety committees, representatives (union and workers) and by using noticeboards, emails, appraisals, etc. This will keep everyone informed and aware that monitoring processes are taken seriously by the organisation.

The senior management team can then review any new proposals and agree on any changes to make. Improvements should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). These will then be cascaded down to the relevant managers and supervisors to implement. Sufficient resources from the Health and Safety budget need to be made available, along with access to any competent specialists that may be required during implementation.

How Notify can help you

Notify can provide a platform to ensure that all organisations can demonstrate compliance with their internal safety monitoring and review requirements. Their incident management and audits/inspection modules can ensure that organisations implement a structured system, to record their monitoring and review processes. I strongly recommend that if you currently do not have a structured monitoring and review process as part of your safety management system – Book A Demo