The Management of Change Process: This is Everything to Know
The total number of fatal work-related injuries in the United States in 2018 was up 2% on the previous year.
With 5,250 deaths at work, the prevention of fatalities is a key objective of the management of change process.
Do you understand the management of change process? If not, read on to learn what you need to know.
Management of Change Process Definition
Whenever there is change there is the potential for hazards to emerge. The effective management of health, safety, and environmental risk requires managers to recognize that there is risk inherent within any change.
Effective management of change procedures can cover changes to people, operations or facilities. They ensure that the change itself does not add new risks. They also ensure that there is no increase in existing risks and no removal of existing control measures.
Failure to implement effective management of change processes can result in increases in risk for employees and also to the environment.
Risk management is a commonplace activity. Even a decision to cross a road consists of some risk management even if you are barely aware that you are doing it.
There are risks in most things we do and so risk assessment and management occur in the workplace too. It takes place both informally and formally. Risk management aims to formalize this activity making it systematic and rigorous.
Risk can emerge in business processes, engineering, manufacture and all aspects of operations.
An equipment move, regulatory change, inspection interval change, and a vendor change are all examples of change requiring risk management. You can see here for more info that will help you understand management of change.
Whenever a process, facility or operations are established over time, risks are managed. This establishes a state of inertia. The status quo, familiarity, the norm is unquestioned.
Response to change can sometimes lag behind the change itself. Operating procedures, employee behavior, and control measures don’t respond to the change unless prompted to do so.
The oft-told anecdote about a frog placed into boiling water illustrates this very well. The frog jumps out of the water immediately. If you place the frog in cold water but heat it up gradually the from doesn’t notice the increasing temperature and boils to death.
This science experiment might be unethical but acts as an excellent metaphor for organizational change. Sometimes the implications of a change are not understood. The lack of an appropriate response can result in serious consequences including fatalities.
Risk in a workplace context is concerned with assessing hazards. Any hazard is assessed in two ways.
Firstly, hazards are assessed as to the likelihood that they will cause a problem. A low likelihood of a problem arising from the hazard may be rated as low risk. A high likelihood of a problem arising might be assessed as high risk.
The second part of a risk assessment is about the impact of the problem arising from the hazard. A serious impact such as potential fatality is a high risk. A low impact such as mild discomfort is a low risk.
Plotting these two variables, likelihood and impact on a four-box matrix graphically illustrates the risk assessment. Low ratings on both likelihood and impact are probably such low risk that they hardly need consideration. High ratings on both likelihood and impact are high risks and absolutely need addressing.
Hazards can be plotted as low to high across both dimensions resulting in a range of risks. There is a management judgment as to when a moderate risk requires attention. The response to any high or even moderate risk is to identify and implement control measures.
Once a hazard has been assessed the next step in the process involves decision making. This important stage involves judgment. While data might be available to support the decision-making process there may also be a little substitute for the wisdom of experience.
Control measures are the actions you might take to mitigate the risks identified during the risk assessment stage. They are designed into the operations, facilities, and behaviors of employees.
The control measures can reduce the likelihood of a hazard causing harm. They can also reduce the impact of a hazard.
Identifying or designing control measures is a vital part of the management of change. This activity requires a risk assessment of its own as a control measure can introduce hazards of its own. Many a control measure has been implemented with good intentions only turn out to have unintended negative consequences.
Implementation of Change
Once a change has been identified, a risk assessment completed and decisions about risk management made, the implementation of the control measurements takes place.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines on the management of organizational change describe how existing procedures may need to be changed. For example, in response to the implementation of an organizational change such as downsizing an operation may no longer be safe. Management of change procedures must be followed to return operations to safe working.
Critical to the implementation is training and supervision.
Pre-Startup Safety Review
Before commissioning a new or even a slightly modified process a safety review should be conducted. This is as true of a modified process as of a whole industrial facility or plant.
The Pre-Startup Safety Review (PSSR) determines whether the intended design is being met at the time of the startup. Its purpose is to identify if the changes made have successfully addressed any hazards it intended to. It’s also conducted to check whether the change has introduced any new hazards.
The PSSR isn’t just a check of the process. It is also a check of equipment, people and training. Identify the procedure for conducting the PSSR as part of the commissioning documentation.
Understanding the management of change process will help you deliver a safer and healthier workplace.
It will minimize environmental risk. It will also help with compliance with OSHA regulations.
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