Who Does Site Level HS&E Report To?
This is a question that I have been asked
numerous times as a career HS&E professional. There really is no easy answer and I wish there was as it would have saved me and many other team members countless hours of thinking, strategizing, planning, meeting, and debating with site and corporate leaders.
In my career, I have experienced site level HS&E reporting to Human Resources, Engineering, Division/Corporate HS&E, the Plant Manager and Operations, A proposal can be developed, debated, and eventually aligned to for any of the above, except for Operations. The last thing we need in a manufacturing site level organizational structure is the proverbial fox guarding the hen house as in the case of Operations. Steer clear of this reporting relationship for HS&E.
If you (as a Division/Corporate or Site level HS&E professional) are given the opportunity lead or participate on a team for proposing a new site level HS&E reporting structure, you must 1st understand the 5 P's or basic steps for planning a successful proposal. The team's proper planning prevents poor performance. And yes, I know what you are thinking, sometimes people throw another p in the steps for a humorous affect, but we will not list it as you can use your imagination.
How do you start your plan? Assess the strength of your site's HS&E foundation. If you have a strong foundation, the management systems and programs implemented will be functional and robust and the catalyst for reducing incidents. If you have a weak foundation, then the HS&E performance of the site will be questionable and possibly unacceptable. Review the four foundational categories below to ascertain the perceived importance of HS&E at the site.
Start with the site's Core Business Values. What is important as a core business value to the specific site? I would hope one of the top values are...the well being of our employees, contractors, and visitors.
Review the site's Health & Safety Philosophy as issued by the Site Leadership Team. Does the site maintain a detailed listing and communicate something like...nothing we do here is worth an employee/contractor injury or another common point is...health and safety is everyone's responsibility.
Review the site's Safety Work Practices. These are clear and concise basic safety rules and expectations for the site. Ownership and accountability for these practices are driven throughout the organization. Examples maybe stated as...Bypassing, removing, or altering machine guards during run mode is prohibited ...all incidents must be reported immediately regardless of the severity.
Finally, review the site's Performance Objectives (Key Performance Indicators) and ascertain what objective(s) is related to HS&E. Does the site have a periodic objective for reducing employee and contractor injuries and/or reducing lost time cases? Of course they do, right?
So now you have the basis for your plan where HS&E is fully inclusive within the site's foundational:
Core Business Values
Health & Safety Philosophy
Safe Work Practices
At this point in your proposal, anyone either internal or external would be assured through the above clear foundational evidence that HS&E is critically important to the overall success of the site. Your team's plan has now clearly built a case to propose site level HS&E reporting to the highest ranking leader (e.g. Plant Manager) that is 1) located at the site full-time 2) responsible, accountable, and has overall authority for the site 3) ultimately responsible for every person that enters the premises regardless of an employee, contractor, vendor, or visitor.
Since you might not be experiencing an ideal work environment for HS&E, like detailed above, let's discuss a less desirable scenario. What if the site does not clearly communicate nor promote any one (or more) of the four foundational categories listed above? That in itself is problematic and one of several possible root causes for unacceptable HS&E performance at a site. Without the four foundational categories above being critically important to the Site Leadership and clearly communicated routinely, the entire foundation of the HS&E program has inherent cracks and may be at risk of collapse (poor performance). So what do you do? You and your team must step up to lead, coach, and influence the Site Leadership to make the revisions necessary to build a solid foundation for HS&E with the four categories listed above. This would also include a proposal for site HS&E reporting to the highest ranking leader at the site.
A word of caution to be exercised carefully. After your team's proposal has been presented, reviewed, and then debated for alignment, you must accept the final outcome and move one. Sorry, but in reality the Plant Manager has the responsibility, accountability and authority for the entire site. Once the Plant Manager has made their decision, you as the HS&E professional must drop your proposal and move on to other critical matters.
For you to continue to argue your case may eventually cause harm in the short term to your reputation and longer term to your career. Respect the decision of the Plant Manager and move on in a positive manner.
For more information on building a successful HS&E foundation at a manufacturing location and how to sustain the foundation to reduce HS&E defects, contact Billy Moore at 706-594-1660 and/or visit our website: www.strategicsafetyenvironmental.com/