Most organisations have a reasonable understanding of the concept of individual safety competency, but struggle to truly understand the concept and application of safety as an organisational competency, according to a state transport regulator.
“All levels of an organisation, right down to a single specialist or individual, have leadership accountabilities. When it comes to safety, the key is making sure everyone understands their accountabilities and is prepared to act on them,” said Leonard Neist, chief executive of the NSW Independent Transport Safety Regulator.
Organisations need to prepare employees at every level to be accountable for safety outcomes and to make sure they are competently equipped, authorised and empowered to do so, he said.
Neist, speaking ahead of the SIA National Safety Convention, to be held in Melbourne in April, said the only way to be truly sure that everyone understands their safety accountabilities and has been prepared by their organisation to lead and act when required, is that everyone from the CEO down must exercise these responsibilities.
“I don’t necessarily mean you have to undertake large expensive simulations and field exercises. Most of the time a simple tabletop exercise provides invaluable insight into the gaps and misunderstandings when it comes to risk controls and emergency response,” said Neist.
“A key statement that I have often heard OHS professionals use is ‘the level of risk that you are prepared to walk past without acting is the level of risk that you are perceived to accept’ – this is a particularly important concept for the organisation’s senior managers and executives to understand.”
Neist will be speaking at the SIA National Safety Convention, to be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from 16 to 19 April. For more information visit www.sia.org.au/safetyinaction.