However, a growing number of industry leaders have raised concerns that the effectiveness of these Management Systems is being undermined by ‘bloating’ of the system’s paperwork; documents full of verbose language and ‘hot air’ with an underlying disregard for the end-user who needs to apply the system requirements daily i.e. to actually use it.
In addition to these problems of wordiness and poor usability, larger and more operationally diverse organisations often mandate a tiered Document Framework with prescriptive layers of Policies, Standards, Procedures and Instructions; a prescription that disregards the pragmatic utility of the layered documents and whether or not they are actually needed or used. While the precise purpose for each document type is detailed at length within the organisation’s Document Management Standard, this approach inevitably results in duplicated and overlapping information.
Given that time is a rare and precious commodity in the modern workplace, why do we require our time-poor Frontline Managers and Supervisors to read reams of Standards and Procedures, much of which provides them with no practical guidance relevant to their work tasks?
Management Systems need to be targeted to assist Managers and Supervisors while being conscious of the amount of time these personnel have to read and then apply these processes.
It can be argued that the increasingly common over-sized Management System does not position an organisation for improved levels of compliance, and in some instances it actually produces detrimental effects and undermines best practice, with Frontline Managers and Supervisors consciously disregarding the documented procedures due to their impracticability.
To be effective Management Systems need to be ‘user-friendly’, packaged for optimal understanding and uptake by the end-users, and it is this focus that serves to promote a compliant culture within the organisation.
Many WHS Management Systems require pruning to trim the procedural ‘deadwood’. During this process there is a need to:
- Re-assess the organisation’s operational context
- Assess the end-users and understand their operational context
- Critically assess the need for lengthy procedures, layers of duplication and redundancy
- Maintain the focus on the organisation’s objectives and targets
- Maintain the focus on documents actually providing value in terms of safety
Something to always bear in mind is WHS Regulation Section 39, stating that the PCBU is to “…ensure that information, training and instruction provided to a worker is suitable and adequate … and provided in a way that is readily understandable by any person to whom it is provided.”
Please contact QRMC if you would like assistance developing a more effective WHS Management System.