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Is your company ready for the new Chain of Responsibility requirements?

The Chain of Responsibility (CoR) amendments to be introduced in October this year will broaden the focus on current supply chain safety obligations. Company executives and owners will now be wholly covered by this important legislative amendment.

Is your organisation ready for these changes?

Depending on your organisation’s stance on safety, the expanded CoR legislation may be either a serious reality check or simply another opportunity to continue to build your safety culture.

Will your organisation focus on simply complying with or committing to these expanded requirements?

The pending legislative amendments will mean that the current Chain of Responsibility framework extends the scope of safety obligations from being essentially a managerial/supervisory /operational environment to a broader whole-of-organisation application including owners, leaders, managers, supervisors and operational staff.

If your organisation has traditionally adopted a reactive safety positioning that is based on being safety compliant, these new amendments will present a potentially disruptive challenge to your company.

How do you know whether your organisation is safety compliant or safety committed?

Organisations with a safety compliance approach can be characterised by: a primary focus on safety audits and safety management systems, a “have to” focus on safety requirements, a strong operational positioning of safety, an exclusive focus on ‘punishment’ for safety breaches, a stand-alone organisational positioning on safety and internal safety communications characterised by a ‘speaking at’ emphasis.

Organisations with a safety commitment/culture approach can be characterised by: a seamless whole-of-organisation safety focus, a focus on leadership of safety behaviours, alignment with the organisation’s Purpose and Values, a defined empowerment for employees, a safety communications style that reflects the organisation’s wider positioning, safety policies that are clearly integrated to the wider organisation positioning, an adaptive and collaborative workplace and an integrated approach to metrics.

If your organisation already has, or has been making significant progress towards, a proactive and integrated safety culture, it will be much better positioned to absorb and integrate the impact of these new legislative requirements.

In essence, companies that have a consistent approach, profile and commitment to safety will be able to seamlessly accommodate these new legislative requirements and lock them into a sustainable framework. Organisations where safety is integrated – not separate from – its culture, engagement, leadership, systems and processes are best positioned to absorb challenges such as those generated by new legislative requirements.

Under these new arrangements, a primary ‘duty of care’ will be introduced for supply chain participants to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of ‘road transport operations’ with executive officers (such as directors) having the primary duties regime applied to them through a positive due diligence obligation, similar to that imposed by WHS law.

Essentially, this means that if you or anyone in your organisation operates, loads, drives or sends/receives goods using a heavy vehicle, you will effectively have the same responsibilities as you presently do under WHS law to ensure that the CoR under the Heavy Vehicle National Law has not been breached.

Accordingly, executives and proprietors will need to make certain all reasonably practicable steps are taken to ensure vehicles are properly loaded and goods secured, and ensure that all involved staff undertake their responsibilities in a safe manner.

What is safety culture and how does this concept support an optimum positioning for these new legal developments?

Safety culture describes an organisation’s overall commitment to workplace safety. It’s closely linked to an organisation’s employee culture. When measured effectively, it helps to understand the gaps that exist between an organisation’s safety systems and how well they are implemented at the team and individual level.

Safety culture incorporates and supports an integrated approach to key current and emerging safety issues such as the pending, more expansive Chain of Responsibility provisions.

What organisational issues are fundamental to ensuring that your company’s safety profile is much more suited to a safety culture positioning rather than to a safety compliance profile?  What are some of the relevant metrics for analysing your company’s safety culture and current state of safety preparedness ahead of these new legislative requirements?

  • Safety management systems: it isn’t enough to just have these in place. A robust safety culture will support and ensure that your organisation’s safety management systems: are known and understood, are effective, are known to be genuine and are applied without fear or favour; they generate confidence and provide shared learnings/actions following reported incidents. Safety lag management systems (indicators, processes and audits) in isolation will not generate or sustain a robust safety culture.
  • Safety transparency: do your organisation’s supervisors, managers, executive and owners openly support and promote confidence in safety behaviours and communications?
  • Safety integrity: do your organisation’s staff have full confidence in and the support of endorsed company safety protocols so that they can confidently ‘call out’ safety incidents
  • Safety communications: is your company’s safety messaging carefully focussed around company behaviours, sharing, partnering and ‘talking with’ or is it focussed on a compliance-based ‘have to’ or ‘talking at’ format?
  • Engagement: What is engagement? The extent to which employees think and feel positively about their organisation and go above and beyond for its success. There is extensive research verifying that highly engaged organisations have significantly lower levels of workplace incidents and injuries. How engaged is your organisation?

Insync has partnered with clients in industries where safety is critical (e.g. aviation, shipping, mining and construction) and developed Insync’s Safety Culture and Engagement Framework, based on academic and empirical research as well as practical insights from our industry partners. This framework underpins our Safety Culture and Engagement Survey which measures how both employees and leaders think and behave in relation to safety at work and the extent to which both employees and leaders support workplace behaviours and processes.

Insync’s Safety Culture and Engagement Survey measures and provides actionable data from our five key factors in the Safety Culture and Engagement Framework:

  1. Response to Safety
  2. Continuous improvement
  3. Safety leadership
  4. Psychological safety
  5. Engagement

Company executives are right to be concerned about where their company fits on the safety compliance – safety commitment continuum ahead of these new legislative requirements. The CoR changes mean that it is no longer adequate for company executives to believe they “have a good handle on safety”. They need to be clear on what they must do to ensure that they have positioned their company, at all levels, to accommodate and integrate these new requirements. The Safety Culture and Engagement Survey provides actionable data to clearly provide answers to their compelling state of readiness.

Get in touch

To discuss Insync’s Safety Culture and Engagement Survey and to understand how the results will assist your company to be best positioned for the pending new legislative challenges please contact:

Des McGowan, Executive Director and Founder at dmcgowan@insyncsurveys.com.au, +61 3 9909 9221
or +61 411 606 822.

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