Practical PSM Leadership

The success of your PSM program is centered around effective leadership. What does this look like from a practical perspective? Here are some observations and suggestions, starting with general safety leadership and then following on with some PSM specifics

  1. The culture and safety ethos of a company starts at the top with the board and CEO.  The CEO must demonstrate that he or she cares, and the actions that do this cannot be delegated. It has been my experience that you may not be able to change attitudes overnight but behaviors certainly can be.
  2. How does the CEO do this? Not like Homer Simpson, by walking around encouraging his workmates to “safen up”. Here are a few suggestions.
    • Ensure your leadership team understand their responsibilities and make them accountable for the performance of safety management
    • Every time there is an significant incident/ LTI, go and talk to the person in person. Not the Safety Coordinator or the supervisor – you – the CEO. Talk through what happened, ensure the person is being looked after and ensure him or her that it will not happen again. 
    • Have the manager responsible report directly to you within 24 hours (again not the Safety Coordinator or supervisor) while explaining which of the systems he/she is responsible for failed and why. They should explain what is being done in the short and long term to prevent a reoccurrence and what are the root causes.  
    • Have zero tolerance for non-compliance with unsafe acts or PPE requirements. No manager should pass an unsafe situation without doing something about it. It is called having the courage of your convictions.
    • Build safety metrics into the KPI’s of every manager
    • When wandering around the facility, sometimes called MBWA (Management by Wandering Around) chat about any incidents which have occurred, concerns people may have or safety initiatives. Do this before discussing production, quality etc.
    • Be careful about rewarding a good safety performance  (eg a lack of reported accidents). This can backfire when an accident does occur leading to low morale and discourages reporting. Reward the achievement of proactive (leading) safety measures like the implementation of an accident/incident investigation system or the development of a training program. Your actions make it clear where your priorities lie.
  3. The board and CEO should actively perform due diligence on their business. This includes understanding their risks, providing resources to address them and verifying the performance of measures.

    If Process Safety is important to your business..........
  1. Ensure you and your senior staff understand what Process Safety is and what it involves. Do they understand how to drive PSM ? and what elements are critical to drive process safety performance such as MoC, PtW, Risk Management etc.
  2. Ensure the relevant parts of the company are aware of safety assessment assumptions and that these are identified and maintained e.g. maintenance routines and their frequency or that the PtW system is functioning correctly.
  3. Make key Process Safety activities part of routine reporting and KPI’s for the leaders responsible. eg..... 
    • trip and alarm testing – the number carried out, the number failed and corrected.
    • incident investigations – recommendations implemented
    • audits carried out, safety systems bypassed or changed. 
    • HAZOP’s undertaken and actions closed out (100% before commissioning).

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