Does business disruption mean a lack of focus on safety?

The challenging operating environment of 2024 thus far has pushed the issue of supply chains to the fore with terrorism in the Red Sea area, as well as the hostilities in the Middle East.  Thankfully, energy prices are now abating to some extent but collectively these issues have made for a very difficult trading position over the past two to three years. Not to mention the impact of Brexit.

As readers of James Reason will note, “the relationship between production and protection is rarely equal”.  Hence a focus on one may often be at the expense of another.

So, it is reasonable to ponder whether leaders have been able to maintain an adequate focus on safety, whilst navigating choppy waters. An emphasis on ensuring production is as efficient and effective as possible to minimise the impact on business performance, at the expense of safety, can lead to hidden dangers.

Good process safety management requires a strong focus from leaders to ensure that a positive process safety culture thrives.  But in challenging times, leaders perhaps need a more readable and real time measure of process safety performance and the effectiveness of underpinning systems and procedures.  If there were a structured and systematic approach to reporting and management of process safety affairs, then perhaps production and protection might be managed more harmoniously and not at the expense of each other.

There are real advantages to having a centralised process safety management solution, which captures information from across the business – be that local, national, or global in nature.  Setting priorities and managing workstreams is essential for good control, and so oversight from one central source can give reassurance to leaders, shareholders and stakeholders as to how systems and procedures are working effectively.

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