Change Management How do management practices affect safety?

article written by Cornel Marius Radulescu HS&E and Fire Protection Expert and published in the 2017 HSE Guide

Can change, of any nature, affect occupational health and safety?

Obviously, yes. More than that, one single change can influence a multitude of systems within the organization or the business. Among others, change can affect the Conformity Assessment System, the Quality System, the Health and safety System, the Fire Protection System, the Electrical System, Finances, Technical Documentation, Technical Safety, Environmental System and so on.

Why? We shall see. 

Definition

CHANGE, changes, noun [countable, uncountable]. The process by which things become different.

A situation in which something becomes different or you make something different.  

A situation in which one person or thing is replaced by another. 

Any change to an existing system or procedure that could have an impact on the organization/ business, technological flow, quality parameters, or occupationl health and safety.

Who can request and initiate change? Any employee with a proposition of improving, revising or altering something.  

Who manages the system? A change management administrator. 

The process of change must proceed in the following way:

1 The initiator formulates a change request application, also submitting the necessary information and documentation. 

2 The system manager periodically organizes meetings where change requests are discussed. The meeting brings the initiators and system managers together. First they need to establish if the proposition really brings change (if it’s like-for-like then it’s not change).  

3 The system administrators request documentation or additional information to approve the new procedure. The system managers’ recommendations need to be augmented in order to ensure legal compliance before, during or after the modified procedure has been implemented. The system managers also provide assistance to originator in making the required modifications.  

4 When and if all system administrators have approved the change request the initiator can proceed with implementing the new procedure. 

5 After finalizing the process-changing project, all recommendations need to be filled in by the initiator and closed by the system managers.  


The best way of understanding how it works is by example.

Supposing we intend to add an escape door to the outside of the building, which systems may be affected?

The Legal Compliance System. You need an Urbanistic Certificate, a Building Authorization, a Fire Safety Authorization and so on. 

Technical documentation. You need a layout, technical specifications, a Declaration of Conformity, a warranty certificate etc. 

Fire protection. The new door must be fire resistant, like the wall it will be installed in. The evacuation plans need to be revised. 

Procedures and training. Existing procedures need to be revised and employees must be trained accordingly. 

The electrical system – if the exit signs or the security access control need to be connected to the electrical system. 

On Site Visitors & Contractors – if you’re working with a new contractor. 

The Environment. The resulting waste must be collected selectively and must then be recycled (at least 30% for the year 2017).  

Technical Safety. The door must be included in the cleaning, inspection and maintenance plans. 

Finances. We will also need money for acquiring, transporting and finally installing the door.

Quality. If we need to install pest control equipment.

Here’s how many systems are influenced by a simple project.

Do I still need to answer the question in the title? I think not, and the conclusions remain up to you .

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