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By A MCINNES 14 Nov, 2016

You may or may not know that this is national anti-bullying week in the UK.   Most people think that bullying is something that HR deal with, however, like stress, bullying is another hazard within the workplace that needs to be managed; in the same way as other workplace hazards such as slips and trips.

If a worker feels they’re being singled out for unfair treatment by a boss or colleague, they’re probably being bullied.  Bullying can be described as unfair, offensive, intimidating or insulting behaviour intended to undermine, humiliate or injure someone.

There’s no comprehensive list of bullying behaviours and no one type of person who’s likely to be a bully.

Examples of bullying behaviour include:

  • constantly criticising competent staff, removing responsibilities from them, or giving them trivial tasks
  • shouting at staff
  • persistently picking on people in front of others or in private
  • blocking promotion
  • regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities
  • setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible
  • deadlines
  • consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal
  • standing
  • regularly making the same person the butt of jokes.

Symptoms of bullying include:

  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • ulcers
  • sleeplessness
  • skin rashes
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • high blood pressure
  • tearfulness
  • loss of self-confidence.

As an Employer, you must make it clear to your team members that bullying behaviour is unacceptable. You should also ensure that you include the hazard of bullying within your Health and Safety Management System and Risk Management System.

By A MCINNES 11 Mar, 2016

I have listened with interest over the last few days about the enquiry into the closure of the Forth Road Bridge and if it could have been prevented. A Holyrood inquiry has concluded that the fault which caused it could not have been foreseen. I find this rather interesting to the say the least.


Health and safety law attempts to be fair by requiring you to be responsible for ‘reasonably foreseeable’ risks.  As duty holders, you need to assess ‘reasonably foreseeable’ risks and put in place control measures to reduce the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

 

According to the law, employers are not responsible for issues they can successfully argue as ‘not reasonably foreseeable’ but are responsible where reasonable foreseeability can be argued.

 

There are three simple elements to determine whether a risk is ‘reasonably foreseeable’ which are as follows:

 

Public/Common Knowledge: You are expected to foresee what the average person in the street would have foreseen, as that information is common knowledge. For example, could a member of the public have known that a crack in a truss under the southbound carriageway had occurred – Probably Not.

 

Technical/Industry Knowledge : If a health and safety issue is beyond general public knowledge, then the company is expected to have the same level of background knowledge as other companies working in the same industry. For example, could an employee responsible for the maintenance of the bridge be expected to know that a crack in a truss under the southbound carriageway had occurred – Probably as they are responsible for inspection and maintenance .

 

Expert Knowledge: Only if they’re an expert are they expected to have expert knowledge. For example, could a specialist structural engineer and surveyor reasonably expect a crack in a truss under the southbound carriageway to occur – Probably as they know that this is a potential weak point.

 

The outcome of this is that employers are not responsible for issues they would not have ‘reasonably foreseen’, but they are definitely responsible where ‘reasonable foreseeability’ can be argued and in the case of the closure of the Forth Road Bridge it was entirely foreseeable that the type of crack could occur and that cutback in maintenance could and did increase the likelihood of risk of cracks and deterioration of the condition and structure of the bridge.

 

This is another example of government bodies having a different and frankly incorrect interpretation of the law. I highly recommend that governments consider employing the services of professional that understand legal aspects and in this case understand the concept of what is unforeseeable.

By A MCINNES 10 Mar, 2016
Many of you will know the background on this one, but for those that don’t, I will recap the story so far.

In March 2012 the former Chief Executive of NHS 24, Mr John Turner, signed a contract for a new call handling system for NHS 24 called ‘Future Programme’ which had a budget of £75m and was aimed at making NHS 24 more efficient. Since then it has had some issues which I have detailed the highlights (or should that be the low points!) below:

  • The project ran £41.6m over budget.
  • When it was introduced on the 28th October 2015 it ran into difficulties within a matter of hours. This resulted in the system being shut down and staff reverting to handling calls using pens and paper for a number of hours.
  • In the early hours of the 29th October NHS 24 decided that they would revert back to their old computer system and the decision was made to delay reintroducing the new computer system until ‘it is safe to do so’.
  • An NHS spokesperson stated “it has proved extremely challenging” and “a huge amount of planning, system testing and staff training was undertaken”.
  • Mr John Turner, Chief Executive resigns over the issue as does the Chief Financial Officer.
  • On the 13th November Interim Chief Executive, Ian Crichton stated that continuing to use the new IT system would be unsafe for patients. It was therefore decided to continue using the existing IT system and to shelve the new ‘Future Programme’ IT System whilst they continued to develop the system offline with the aim reintroducing it at a later date sometime in 2016.
  • Mr John Turner, Chief Executive admits to an enquiry that the paper copy of the 1000-page contract that he signed didn’t match the electronic copy and that he was very sorry and felt let down.
  • Mr John Turner, Chief Executive has stated that he was not informed of a fundamental flaw in the system being delivered for 22 months adding “other junior staff were aware of the omissions but didn’t tell me”.

How much will the new IT System eventually cost? As it was £41.6m over budget in October 2016 and is still not operational, so we may never know how much more money the tax payers will eventually pay for it.

As you can see it has not been an easy or successful project and has resulted in much criticism including being called a ‘mismanaged shambles’ by Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Conservative health spokesman.

There is currently a public enquiry being undertaken to ascertain what went wrong, however the Scottish government has history of over-spending on other projects as well so the NHS 24 IT system is not new:

  • The cost of a new office block for MPs, Portcullis House, rose from £60 million in 1991 to £234 million by the time it opened in 2001. The National Audit Office watchdogs later found 7,500 defects in the structure.
  • The Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood opened in 2004, three years late. The final bill, £414 million, was between 10 and 40 times higher than original estimates. A public inquiry into the massive over-spend found there had been failings throughout the project.

So what can we learn from this? Well if the government and NHS 24 had utilised effective management systems then many of these issues could have been prevented. I could document a long audit report with many non-conformances but lets consider some of the requirements of ISO 9001: 2008 that could have prevented this and other over spending on projects.

  • Req. 5.1 ‘Management Commitment’ – managers did not ensure quality objectives were met.
  • Req. 5.2 ‘Customer Focus’ – were customers interests taken into account (or the tax payers that finance such projects).
  • Req. 5.5.3 ‘Internal Communication’ – senior managers and junior members of staff failed to communicate for 22 months about fundamental issues.
  • Req. 5.6 ‘Management Review’ – failure of ongoing review of issues and overspend; it was left to run out of control for 22 months; and longer.
  • Req. 6.2.2 ‘Competence, training and awareness’ – it is obvious that there were many people involved that were not competent in reviewing contracts and correctly managing such large projects.
  • Req. 7.2.2 ‘Review of requirements related to the product’ – again rather obvious that this wasn’t taken into account with regards to signing a contract that didn’t match the electronic copy and also obvious that Mr John Turner may not have understood what he was actually signing.
  • Req. 7.3 ‘Design and development’ – lack of planning, reviews, verification and validation.
  • Req. 7.4 ‘Purchasing’ – total failure of reviewing of information with the supplier and further failure of verification of purchased product.

ISO 9001: 2015 can further prevent such future over spends and project failures as the new standard introduced:

  • Risk Based thinking – which would ensure that inherent risks are established and managed; not just health and safety but quality, operational and financial.
  • Req. 4 ‘Context of the Organisation’ – understanding who the interested parties are and what their needs and expectations are.
  • Req. 4.4 ‘Quality Management Systems and its Processes’ – process based management systems and business models would ensure that projects are better managed.
  • Req. 5 ‘Leadership’ – now requires much clearer leadership and commitment from the top and in the case of 5.1.2 ‘Customer Focus’ would ensure that requirements are determined, understood and met as well as risks determined and managed.
  • Req. 6 ‘Planning’ – now requires that risks are determined and managed with regards to interested parties and their needs and expectations are met.
  • Req. 8 ‘Requirements for Products and Services’ – now has improved and clearer requirements governing the selection, purchase and review of products and services, including design input, output, controls and changes.
  • Req. 8.5 ‘Control of Changes’ – did NHS 24 best manage the change? This is unclear, however it would be safe to bet that better Management of Change would have helped reduce the risks.
  • Req. 9.3 ‘Management Review’ – a lot of the issues that NHS 24 encountered could have been better managed if regular management reviews and project reviews had been undertaken.

As stated previously I have not tried to detail all failings and non-conformities as that would be a sizeable document indeed.

So in summary, if the Scottish Government developed and utilised a Quality Management System based on the requirements of ISO 9001: 2015 that is independently certified by a third party then future over spends of tax payer’s money can and would be either prevented or at least limited.

If this had occurred in a public and private limited company in any business sector then questions would be asked, people would be dismissed and in some cases the company would no doubt face closure due to gross mismanagement; however, most companies operate good management systems against ISO 9001 and have to answer to their customers, as if they don’t, the customer would stop using them and they gain a bad reputation and lose more customers and potential customers go elsewhere – but in the case of government bodies they are immune to such outcomes as we as tax payers will pay our tax and accept it.

I will leave you with the following thought – the project over spend of £41.6m could have paid for 1900 nurses, or better facilities and hospital equipment, or shortened waiting times for surgeries!
By A MCINNES 10 Mar, 2016
I am quite sure that you have heard that ISO 9001 has an updated version due out in September 2015. So after 7 years of getting used to the present requirements it’s all change again. Most of us don’t like change so I am sure many people will be asking lots of questions starting with when, what and why. In this blog I will try to answer some of the questions and hopefully allay any panic. Having been involved with QHSE for over 25 years I have seen many changes to quality management and remember good old BS 5750: 1979 which can trace its roots back even further to the publication of the United States Department of Defence MIL-Q-9858 standard in 1959 (who knew it went that far back and originated in the USA). So enough looking back; let’s look forward.

When will it be available?
  • A final draft version of ISO 9001: 2015 will become available in July 2015 and will be available to purchase from BSI.
  • The final approved version of ISO 9001:2015 will be published in September 2015.

Should you buy the last draft in July?
  • The simple answer is yes you should but you don’t need to as it will be able to view clause by clause from the BSI Website in July. The final draft will be very close to the final version; the chances of significant changes between July and September are fairly remote (committees fear change even more than the rest of us)

How soon can I start the transition process?
  • It may be useful to start communicating internally that a revision to ISO 9001 is coming in 2015. You should start to look at your processes to see if they are in line with the new high level structure; but take note that your system must remain compliant with the requirements of ISO 9001:2008 until the new standard has been released.

How long will ISO 9001:2008 continue to be recognised and audited to?
  • The current standard will be recognised and can be audited to until the end of the 3 year transition period for ISO 9001:2015 (expected September 2018).

What are the main changes then?
  • There are now 10 clauses not 8 as before; but don’t panic there are 2 more new ones on top of the old 8, as the clauses are better organised round a new 10 clause structure which all the other management system standards will follow in the future (including ISO 14001 and ISO 45001; previously known as OHSAS 18001 and I will cover those standards in future blogs).
  • ISO 9001:2015 promotes the process approach beyond the existing requirements of ISO 9001:2008. Clause 4.4 (Quality management system and its processes) of the DIS provides specific requirements for adopting a process approach.
  • Context of the organisation. This effectively means that your organisation needs to review, identify and monitor its compliance with external requirements such your customers’ requirements, legal, technological, competitive, market, cultural, social, and economic environments, whether international, national, regional or local. Furthermore your organisation must consider internal issues related to values, culture, knowledge and performance of the organization.
  • In the 2008 version it refers to Products but in 2015 it now refers to Products and Services; so no big deal there then!
  • The procedure is dead; long live the process! The quality management system is now to be structured with interrelated processes. This will enable the organisation to optimise its performance through its processes, resources, controls and interactions, rather than standalone segmented procedures. Remember the old Plan, Act, Do, Check, well the Do bit is the carrying out of the process.
  • Documents and records are history; the organisation now has documented information! Basically semantics, as it really means the same thing; it simply now recognises that most organisations have record and information in many mediums not just on paper.
  • The new standard does not make any reference to exclusions. However it does clarify that the organisation cannot decide a requirement to be not applicable if it falls under the scope of its QMS. Also non-applicability is not allowed if that could lead to failure to achieve the conformity or to enhance customer satisfaction. This may cause some organisations some issues; however, if your QMS has been written to satisfy the business and its clients first and foremost rather than getting a certificate on the wall then you should not have any issues here.
  • No Quality Manual needed, yes you read that right. You won’t need one soon. You are now asking Why? The easy answer is that it had minimal value to the organisation and its personnel as a process approach focuses on the work method that people need to follow rather a high level definition.
  • There is now a requirement for a more proactive leadership role but at the same time there is no longer a requirement for a management representative. So senior management have to demonstrate that they take an interest and play a part in the QMS rather than simply signing the policy. They must also ensure that QMS requirements have been integrated into business processes. So QA Managers can stop panicking now; you are still needed as a focal point and to police the QMS.
  • You need to take into account the context of the organisation in your Quality Policy which will mean some minor changes.

I have left one of the most significant changes till last:
  • One of the main reasons for a quality management system is for it to act as a preventive tool, however the formal requirement related to preventive action is no more and is being replaced with a risk based approach and requires organisations to determine and address risks. Risk-based thinking has been introduced in all of the clauses in the standard and effectively means that hazard identification, risk evaluation and controls needs to be embedded throughout all aspects of the managements system and is can’t be bolt on or something dealt with separately.

There are many more minor changes to the new ISO 9001 standard including lots of small changes to words, phrases and terms which have varying negligible impacts; however, in this blog I have tried to focus on some of the more significant changes. If you wish to know more or gain a better understanding on the changes and impacts on your management system then contact ALM Safety Training Ltd.

Alan McInnes, CMIOSH, CIQA, MIIRSM
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