Building An Effective Health and Safety Management System - Based on the New View

Why many health and safety management system implementations fail. Take a look at this short powerful video. Russell Ackoff, one of greatest systems thinkers, describes systems and why most improvement initiatives fail.

Important points made by Ackoff:

1) A system is a whole, that consists of parts, each of which can affect its behavior or its properties. Your body is a biological system called an organism. You consist of parts such as your heart, your lungs, your pancreas, stomach, liver, etc. Each of which can affect your behavior or your properties.

2) Each part of the system when it affects the system, is dependent for its affect on some other part. The parts are interdependent.

3) No part of the system or collection of parts of part of a system has an independent affect on it. Therefore, the way the heart affects you depends upon how your lungs are doing, and what the brain is doing. The parts are all interdependent and connected. Therefore the system as a whole cannot be divided into independent parts. That has some very important implications that are general overlooked. The essential or defining properties of an system are properties of the whole which none of the parts have.

4) When a system is taken apart it looses its essential properties.

5) System performance is not the sum of the system parts but rather the product of their interaction.

6) Efforts to improve systems must be based on what we want not what we don’t want. Getting rid of what we don’t want does not guarantee us getting what we do want. In fact, it is unlikely to result in what we want.

Most failed health and safety initiatives focus on system parts, in isolation from other parts, rather than the whole and more importantly the coupling of the parts. The effectiveness of the system is the product of the interaction of system parts not the sum of the parts taken separately.

Comparison of Views.png

Management systems are implemented based entirely on what the organization doesn't want rather than what it does want.  Eliminating compliance violations, incidents and non conformances is important but not sufficient.  

Comparison of Traditional and New View Management Systems

ANSI/ASSE Z10, Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems

PC 283, ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems

Other OH&S Management System Standards and Guidelines

Resources including documents, PowerPoint presentations and web links

Critical Management System Questions

  • Are current management system standards and guidelines sufficient to implement the new view?

  • Proposals have been made to create national and international standard for resilience management systems. Is a specific management system standard needed to support resilience efforts of should existing management system standards be modified to accommodate resilience? (Similar questions have been raised regarding high reliability.)

  • If a new resilience management system standard is needed, should the standard be broad and generic to cover all aspects of resilience enterprise resilience to health and safety or should a number of standards be developed specific to various types of resilience applications?