This Newsletter contains the following information:

  • Some thoughts on Cures for Audit Fatigue/Audit Paralysis
  • Publishers pick up our Benefiting from the Hazard Assessment Process article
  • Summary of our meeting with the Alberta Labour Deputy Minister and the Director of Partnership’s
  • Legislated Safety Committees

THERE IS A CURE FOR AUDIT FATIGUE/AUDIT PARALYSIS

In our soon to be published article on “Cures for Audit Fatigue/Audit Paralysis” we explore important lingering issues with some health and safety management system audit processes. It is important to note, that the issues discussed in the article are not unique to the Province of Alberta or even Canada for that matter.  Over the last couple of months we were doing some marketing of safety perception surveys.  We talked to a number of Governements, Safety Associations and Compensation Insurers throughout North America and found many similar audit issues. This informal research was conducted primarily on organizations sponsoring or administrating programs similar to the Alberta Partnership in Injury Reductions or PIR program. We found many similarities with the programs but a key similarity is the offer of a reward to participating companies (e.g. reduced compensation premiums) upon successful completion of a basic health and safety system audit. The assertions made in this article go well beyond Canadian borders and possible well beyond those of the United States. It is likely the first time you have seen these issues aired in print, but they are well known to many company health and safety professionals.  Here is a link to this article for those interested in reading it NEED a link to the article Yes There is a Cure for Audit Paralysis.

 

BENEFITING FROM THE HAZARD ASSESSMENT PROCESS

In our spring newsletter we reported on some opportunities to improve the hazard assessment process.  We wrote an article on the assessment process and included key parts of it in that newsletter.  Subsequently the aricle was picked up and published by three different occupational health and safety magazines. So not only did the information reach approximately 1000 safety professionals with this newsletter but thousands more subscribing to the various health and safety magazines. We are pleased the article reached so many readers.

MEETING WITH THE ASSISTANT DEPUTY MINISTER

Also in our spring newsletter we reported on a meeting we had with the Assistant Deputy Minister sanctioned by Premier Notley and set up by Christina Gray, Alberta Minister of Labor. Here is a summary of the outcome:

Key Issues:

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues around the Partnership’s In Injury Reduction (PIR) program and the Creative Sentencing program.  (The Creative Sentencing program is the program that reallocates proceeds of industry non-compliance penalties to help fund various compliance and prevention programs). Following our meeting with the Assistant Deputy Minister, Brent McEwan and Partnerships’ Director Ian Hooper, we were assured actions would be taken to address many of the issues.  Some of the key areas of concern that we expressed were to ensure oversight in the Creative Sentencing program, improve consistency of Partnerships relative to auditor training, improve consistency in auditor certification requirements between Certifying Partner’s, improve audit protocols to reflect current safety excellence research (protocols should strive to foster best practices rather than compliance), conolidate the Certifying Partners’ (CPs) (similar to the more cost effective Ontario model), change CP voting from consensus to majority rules (a democratic approach would speed up the much needed change process), improve scoring of audit questions (specifically eliminate all-or-none scoring) and finally, like auditing, support alternative measurement options such as the safety perception survey option (unlike auditing, the safety perception survey option has not been supported with a database, standard survey, training, etc.).

Update:

Ian Hooper was good enough to update us on some of the progress on the above issues. In general, the Government has been busy with work on Bill 30 and another initiative called the OHS System Review Consultation (we did submit a proposal to this consultation process). We recognize there have been other priorities that the Government has had to deal with but we still have to report on what has been done relative to the issues we discussed.  A couple of maxims are appropriate here; the road is paved with good intentions and proof is in the pudding. Here is a summary of the Government’s response to the rather lengthy list of issues that we presented them with:

  • Bill 30 has touched on some Creative Sentencing Standard issues.  Essentially the Bill does a better job of specifying who is to receive Creative Sentencing funds and for what purposes. We were unable to find any changes that would provide assurance the money awarded will go to valid health and safety projects or ensure there is accountability for project delivery. One of key issues we expressed to the Government on this program was the lack of oversight of the funding and lack of oversight on completed projects. At the time, the Government had one employee working part time on oversight while also working full time her full time job requirements.  The Government does not report a change in oversight. Millions of dollars have been awarded through this program to date. One would think the Government would be more eager to close this gap before the oppositions catches wind of it.
  • Some scoring and audit consistency issues were resolved.  The score on audit all-or-none questions has been raised to 70% positive minimum in order to award points. We continue to feel this type of scoring should be eliminated.
  • One consistency improvement reported on audit protocols is that all CP’s or Associations must now add a component into their audits on field level risk assessments.
  • Consolidation of CP’s was another issue that we discussed. There has been some headway on this issue with the merger of ENFORM and OSSA creating one partner now called Energy Safety Canada. The Government did not report any headway on this issue and therefore we have to assume they do not have a program in place or planned to foster consolication of CP’s.

We are pleased there have been some improvements reported. We are disappointed with the pace of the Government’s response to the issues.  When we discussed them at the meeting there was general agreement the proposed changes would improve the programs. We will keep you up to date on any further improvements.

SAFETY COMMITTEES IN ALBERTA – like rats and sales tax.

For many years Alberta has boasted that the province has no rats, no provincial sales tax and no legislation requiring safety committees. With the introduction of Bill 30 in Alberta health and safety committees will legislated. The new legislation will align Alberta with other provinces that have had similar legislation for many years. This new requirement may not bode well with companies tht have already invested in effective communication processes. On the positive side, it will require those companies that do not have effective communication process to at least meet minimum safety committee requirements.  Compass is on the fence with this new requirement as we have seen legislated safety committees work and we have seen them fail. We have seen committees fail because the company didn’t comply with the legislation by ensuring management involvement, meetings are held, issues are addressed in a timely manner, etc. Hopefully the Government will support the new legislation with sufficient resources to help ensure committees succeed.

We wish everyone a great Happy New Year.

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