Functional Safety Management Requires Leadership and Competency

The ControlGlobal.com site has a great article on process safety, Leading the Way to Process Safety. Author Peter Montagna describes the importance of leadership:

With strong leadership, a process safety program can achieve many goals. It can satisfy shareholders and company management with improved productivity and profitability; satisfy the community with fewer incidents; and satisfy employees with a healthy and safe working environment.

I ran this by Emerson’s Chuck Miller whom you may recall from earlier posts on process safety. He’s been preaching the critical importance of competency in functional safety management.

When I forwarded the RSS feed of the ControlGlobal.com story his way and asked his thoughts, Chuck as usual had some good ones. He wholeheartedly agrees that leadership is an important component:

…safety culture and competency … that is culture creation has to be a driven from the top down. The leadership must set the standards and evaluate the process of the program. Management relates to the implementation of the process.

Chuck adds that there is a distinction between management and leadership. He writes:

However, many do not separate management and leadership, but instead combine the two. I place this as the leading metric of success or failure of the process. Changing culture in a work environment requires that you have the right people in place. They are hard to find but they are out there. To be effective it takes someone from the outside (of the work group) with the right credentials to drive the mission–no relationships or baggage to complicate the change agent with compromises.

Peter expressed a point in the article, “Then the process safety specialist leader has to form a team and help it create a compelling vision…” Chuck took a different view. He writes:

I put this responsibility on leadership (visa vie our Functional Safety Management Board) whose visionary commitment sets the goal and strategies to get there. For me it takes leadership PLUS a commitment from all levels of the organization–these implementers are the safety specialists and they drive the commitment.

For your process safety efforts, what are your experiences?

Posted Friday, April 25th, 2008 under Safety.

One comment so far

  1. Readers may find this article of interest:
    http://www.flightsafety.org/asw/may08/asw_may08_p12-17.pdf
    It describes how an organisation in another high-hazard industry, an offshore helicopter operator, is moving beyond saefty management systems to add safety leadership and safety culture development to its SMS.
    One interesting concept within Bristow’s Target Zero initiative is that everyone can be a safety leader.
    For more information see the paper, brochure and sample poster at: http://83.146.40.74/reports/10oct07-RiskInMaintEnv/10oct07-riskinavmaint.php

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