Picture this if you can: Two kayaks tied side-by-side to the roof of my car as I set out for the small town of Tarwin Lower in Gippsland to drop them into the river for a bit of R&R on the water. Life vests in the boot? Check. Paddles aboard? Check. Tides checked and favourable. So, risk assessment complete and all OK for the day, right? Well, not quite.

It certainly seemed like I’d covered all my bases, but I’d taken a calculated risk that my years of cub scouting meant the knots used to tie the kayaks to the roof racks were suitable and secure. And to be fair, they were. But I had not factored in the forces of nature and wind speed at 80kph on a twisty, open road. My risk assessment checklist was inadequate.

Of course, we do things every day that entail risk assessment and largely, our personal experience, knowledge & judgement prevent anything untoward occurring. In the above example I mitigated the risk by having a passenger watch the kayaks carefully through the sunroof! As soon as we saw movement we didn’t like we were able to abort the trip and return home to find better bindings.

In business, risk assessment needs to be a little more measured and proactive!

Businesses have the responsibility to ensure their staff understand any risk associated with their work and their working environment and what controls need to be adopted to remove or reduce risk – particularly risk of an accident at work. The consequences of not doing so are far more costly than turning a car loaded with kayaks around and starting again! The bottom line is:

“A risk assessment will protect your workers and your business, as well as complying with law”

Every organisation should have a risk assessment done by a suitably qualified person capable of identifying hazards, evaluating and categorising risk. This allows an organisation to then implement reasonable control measures to remove or reduce risk.

An assessment needs to address the following elements:

  1. An accident: ‘an unplanned event that results in loss
  2. hazard: ‘something that has the potential to cause harm’
  3. risk: ‘the likelihood and the severity of a negative occurrence (injury, ill-health, damage, loss) resulting from a hazard.

Naturally, there are many diverse types of risk assessment (fire risk, handling dangerous goods, working from heights etc) so any risk assessment you carry out needs to be “proportionate and relevant to the operational activities” of your business or organisation”. That said, many industries will have specific legislative requirements that businesses must incorporate into their  risk assessments.

So, the bottom line is a risk assessment is a simple, structured method of identifying, eliminating, reducing and/or controlling risk to benefit the health, safety, and wellbeing of your employees. Every business needs one.

Nuffield Group provides consultancy and support services including risk assessment and compliance. Find out more here.

This year Nuffield Group’s Health & Safety committee has been running a series on ‘Prevention is better than cure’. It’s been an informative and educational contribution to the business and it got me thinking not just about the idiom but the fact that, as we see time and time again in our business, prevention is actually also cheaper than cure.

Let’s view this in the context of the current Covid global pandemic and hopefully this is not a controversial view: Numerous outbreaks of Covid throughout the community in most every State of Australia have come from breakdowns in hotel quarantine. The consequent lockdowns have cost our economy billions of dollars. The cost of purpose-built quarantine facilities, like Howard Springs in the Northern Territory (where no outbreaks have spread into the local community to date), is in the 100s of millions. Ipso facto – it would have been cheaper to have purpose-built facilities than to have to deal with the consequences.

‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a concept dating as far back as the 13th century with the Latin saying “It is better and more useful to meet a problem in time than to seek a remedy after the damage is done’. In the 1500s Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus coined the somewhat more pithy ‘Prevention is better than cure.’

In many aspects of our business we work closely with customers to do just this. Whether we’re developing a safety case or a risk assessment; providing training or support for emergency and crisis management; reviewing or updating regulatory & governance compliance; or looking at processes and providing solutions tailored to specific industries and sectors; What we do is help with prevention so the cost is cheaper than having to deal with the cure.

What’s more, we’re not just talking dollar cost here. There is a human dimension and cost to not taking the prevention route. There’s also a positive people component when prevention includes training and upskilling. That’s why we focus on building resilient businesses, helping organisations focus on preventative controls to de-risk their operations and improve health, safety and environment for their workers.

I know it’s stating the obvious but, to my point above, we still don’t have purpose-built quarantine facilities do we? It all starts by assessing your risk, identifying what preventative and mitigation controls you want, and then ensuring any training, processes or structural / framework changes are adopted and adapted to ensure you maximise your preparedness to prevent rather than cure.

 

Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience into their business. Nuffield Group provides consultancy and support services as part of their Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery Team. Find out more here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/our-products/iemr

Emergency and Crisis Management

The first of our 3-part leadership webinar series on ‘Emergency and Crisis Management’ attracted representatives from across many different industrial sectors including energy, agriculture, manufacturing, oil, and gas.

Nuffield Group was fortunate to have Craig Lapsley as our guest speaker; Craig is one of the world’s foremost experts in emergency management, leadership and change.

The webinar focused on the “Before” aspect of the emergency management continuum because, as Craig made clear, if you have not undertaken the necessary planning before an event there is a high likelihood the ‘Response’ and ‘Recovery’ phases will fail.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight the key points of the webinar to help attendees (and others) understand how they can improve the relevant Emergency Management documents and approaches in their organisations.

Craig’s insights and experiences provide a great perspective on the importance of the ‘Before” and taking time to plan. Managing incidents in their incipient stages is critical to prevent their escalation to a disaster, progressing to an emergency and finally becoming a full-blown crisis.

The focus of the presentation was a model framework including:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Capability and Capacity (individuals & teams)
  • Risk and Consequence (internal and external requiring understanding and managing the impacts
  • Communication and Governance.

One of the key points in preparedness is the implications of not undertaking planning, exercising, working as a team and being ready. There are many reports highlighting the terrible outcomes for individuals, businesses, and communities that have suffered from an emergency managed poorly and, as Craig identified, the operating environment is more complex and challenging today than it has ever been. The rapid dissemination of information (fake and true) driven by digital media makes the scrutiny on individuals and organisations ever more intense and highlights the importance of looking after the health and safety of people involved in an emergency.

Leadership during an emergency is critical. The emergency management system needs to be owned by the CEO and the Executive of the organisation. The CEO must maintain oversight, exercise stewardship, and take accountability for the development, readiness, and operation of the organisation’s emergency management system. The values and culture of the organisation play a significant role in the way it will respond and act during an incident.

In the ‘Before, During and After’ phases of an emergency, teamwork is fundamental in delivering success, no different to the day-to-day operation of any organisation. It is important for an integrated, whole of organization, approach when preparing, responding, and recovering from an emergency. Siloed approaches are far less effective. Individuals achieve little in comparison to high-performing teams.

When it comes to teamwork understanding the capability and capacity of the team is another key factor. Managing an emergency is different to business-as-usual operations and it is important that there is a mix of leaders, managers, and technical experts to fill the various roles required in the team managing an emergency. The planning phase should identify the capacity of the team to operate under duress, as well as identifying people who have the requisite attributes to lead, manage and deliver technical specialties under the adverse conditions that prevail in an emergency.

Another critical aspect is understanding the risks and consequences an emergency will have on an organisation in a broader sense. The planning phase must consider the potential risks and consequences that will emerge. The direct impacts on the organisation internally, and externally on suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders.

Communications during an emergency must be timely, tailored, clear, and relevant. They need to be honest, transparent and part of a two-way process internally and externally, and a variety of communication channels will always be necessary to keep all stakeholders and the community informed.

Resilience is a much-used word these days but put simply it is the ability to recover from the stresses and shocks of an event. Take Climate Change (or changing climate) for example; It’s a stressor and the shocks that occur are the floods and fires we witness. The important point for business is that it understands the stresses and shocks that are impacting it (or may impact it) and develops controls to build resilience.

If you’d like to watch or share the webinar you can find it on our YouTube channel.

Nuffield Group has also produced a short (17 question) Q&A assessment tool for anyone who wants to understand their or their organisation’s readiness to deal with an unplanned incident or emergency.

Click here to have a go, it’s free and takes just 5 minutes: Emergency Management Preparedness self-assessment tool

This webinar series and self-review tool are brought to you by Nuffield Group’s Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery team.

Free Webinar on Emergency Preparedness

Nuffield Group is holding a FREE webinar on the topic of Emergency Management preparedness on Thursday 28th October at 11am lasting approximately one hour.

It’s brought to you by our Integrated Emergency Management and Recovery team (IEMR) and we’d love you to join us.
We’ll have a keynote presentation from Craig Lapsley on the topic of ‘Preparedness’ and an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and participate in a short online survey to assess their own readiness for an unplanned event. The survey tool link will be provided to attendees post the webinar and consists of just 17 questions that will take 5 minutes to answer – a quick and easy way to see how prepared you and your organisation are.

Registration for the webinar is FREE and will take you 1 minute. You can do it here.

You will get email reminders of the webinar date and time and a link to join us. We look forward to your company and a great presentation from Craig, who’ll be speaking to us from the USA where he is currently deployed leading and advising authorities fighting some of the biggest and worst wildfires the country has ever seen.

Is the fire season going to be bad this year?

One of the questions I was asked every year of my career in the fire service was “Is the fire season going to be bad this year”?

My response was always the same. “Every year will be a bad year somewhere, just make sure if you’re at that somewhere, you’re prepared”. Now is the time to act!

There are a number of indicators that are very useful to gauge the likely extent of our annual fire season. Some of these indicators are technical and require a level of expertise to interpret such as the Southern Oscillation Index which measures the difference in surface air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) which is a numerical value reflecting the dryness of the top layer of soils, deep forest litter, logs and living vegetation. Other indicators are more intuitive such as the amount of Winter and Spring rainfall, the number of warm and windy days leading into Summer and the level of fire activity experienced across Europe and the United States of America which have experienced a large number of mega-fires this year.

The Bureau of Meteorology, provides an annual Bushfire Seasonal Outlook for all parts of Australia. The current Bushfire Seasonal Outlook states: “The Spring 2021 Outlook presents above normal fire potential for conditions over south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, driven by grass and crop growth in these areas. In Western Australia, the above normal fire potential in the north is driven by grass growth and dry soil in the area. Below normal fire potential is predicted across the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria as a result of vegetation recovering from the 2019–20 bushfire season.

While most of Australia shows normal bushfire potential during the spring outlook period, destructive and deadly fires can still occur during normal bushfire seasons across Australia. Fire potential can vary greatly, even at the smaller scale, between bordering states and territories. Each state and territory’s assessment considers different land-use types and vegetation types. This, in turn, is influenced by different forecasts for temperature and rainfall over these regions.”

Whilst the outlook is a very useful resource and indicates we are likely to experience a number of fast-running grass fires, it does not replace the need to prepare your property or business for a possible bushfire or grassfire event.

So, how do you prepare?

Preparation can be divided into two categories: Property and People.

On your business property 

  • Manage long grass to less than 100mm in height.
  • Maintain shrubs, garden and trees by removing all the dry or dead foliage.
  • Keep access into and around the property clear.
  • Ensure clear access to any water points.
  • Practice good housekeeping when storing materials and products outside particularly on your property perimeter.
  • If you have fixed fire protection features like hose reels or equipped hydrants, familiarise yourself with their operation. All fires start small and you might be able to knock down a fire whilst it is small.

For your people

  • Stay informed by monitoring the Vic Emergency Website: emergency.vic.gov.au and the Vic Emergency App.
  • Regularly brief employees about the current fire danger, particularly on days of high fire danger
  • Maintain regular communications about fire risk with employees that work offsite
  • Practise your response to a grass or bushfire as predetermined in your businesses Emergency Management Plan.
  • Plan for the welfare of your employees and families. Do you need all employees on site on high fire danger days?
  • Consider your evacuation plan and remember the safest option is to leave early.

Further actions for your consideration

  • Liaise with your neighbours to understand their level of preparedness and work together where possible
  • Discuss your level of preparedness and the needs of the fire brigade with your local fire brigade members
  • Review your business continuity plan 

The Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience into their business. Nuffield Group provides consultancy and support services as part of their Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery Team. Find out more here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/our-products/iemr

One of my favourite sayings is “learn from the away game”. We all understand that we can and should learn from our own mistakes but how often do we think about learning from the mistakes of others?

Earlier this week, one of the pre-eminent social media platforms went offline and left millions of people unable to communicate with one another. Users of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger were denied access and it took more than five hours before services would begin to be restored.

On the face of it, we as users simply faced a delay in accessing these services and like many, I expected that eventually the systems would come back online and I would be able to catch up on my daily intake of information. However, this outage had a much deeper impact on some businesses including the Facebook business itself.

People rely on Facebook not only to connect with friends and family, but businesses use it to log into other services including online sales websites. In some countries, it is the dominant means of communication through services like WhatsApp. That an outage can have such a profound impact on billions of people for several hours will give some pause for thought.

Facebook’s own internal services were affected by the outage with reports staff were locked out of offices due to the security pass system being caught up in the outage, and could not access their own internal communications platform leading to delay in rectifying the problem and slow return to full capacity.

The total cost of this outage is unknown however the Facebook share price dropped 4.9% and the founder and CEO’s personal wealth dropped $6.5bn according to Bloomberg.

So, what is the lesson to be learnt here?

The lesson here is understanding where your single points of failure are, knowing, and managing the consequences.

Failure to identify these can lead to dramatic and drastic consequences that have financial, legal and reputational implications. I can attest to this from a personal experience whilst working for an organisation that developed an App designed to notify the community of emergency events as they occurred. The App failed when it was most needed due to a single point overload.

The single point failure was not identified in the risk assessment and consequently, there were no actions identified to be carried out to address the potential single point failure in the emergency management plan.  The recovery from this situation was expensive with significant reputational damage.

Recovering from any setback is a challenge for all of us. Identifying possible systemic failures in your business systems and infrastructure then planning how you would go about addressing these will make a big difference to your business.

Nuffield Group has invested in developing its capability in Emergency and Crisis Management to support customers and organisations build safety and resilience in their business.

Nuffield Group provides consultancy and advisory services and also has an online platform, GNTX, for the exchange of non-competitive information and tools allowing businesses to share, download and modify frameworks and documents for their own use.

Find out more about GNTX here: https://www.nuffieldgroup.com/gntx/

It’s hard to fathom going to a bar for a drink and being served ‘flat’ beer – even in the UK! Worse still imagine being unable to go to hospital to have a medical procedure. And yet, this amazing situation is currently playing out in the UK and perfectly demonstrates why you need emergency management planning because comprehensive planning is the only way to deliver resilience in supply chains.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is an important additive in the food, beverage and health industries. It is used widely, for example, in the carbonisation of water, soft and alcoholic drinks; It is also used to stun pigs and chickens before they are humanely processed through abatoirs; It used in many medical procedures for humans too and it is used during packaging of a variety of supermarket foods to ensure extended shelf life.  

Emergency Management Planning

In the UK, the current shortage of carbon dioxide has come about because two large fertiliser factories have stopped production because of soaring wholesale gas prices. Fertiliser plants generate CO2 as a by-product of their production process. The result? A 60% reduction in the UK’s food grade carbon dioxide supply.

Emergency Management Planning

The reduction in CO2 supplies has caused such shortages in the availability of a range of products that it has required intervention at a national government level. It is a remarkable situation and one that is proving difficult to resolve because the situation has arisen due to a fall in demand for fertilisers, not a fall in demand for carbon dioxide itself. The crisis has drawn attention to the fractured responsibility that exists in the supply chain and its management. Politically the issue lies across many areas of government.

Interestingly, this is not the first time a crisis involving the supply of Carbon Dioxide has occurred. It tends to be a cyclical event caused by a decrease in the production of fertiliser over the summer period. In 2018 a similar situation was reported. So, this incidence is entirely predictable and should have been resolved by proper emergency management planning to ensure resilience in the supply chain.

It is a great learning opportunity for all of us. All businesses need to ensure they have identified weaknesses and potential emergency situations and planned accordingly to deliver business continuity. Planning is the key to building resilience into systems and businesses.

The global pandemic has introduced a new normal to this equation. There’s more volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in our everyday lives, so we need to plan better for the unexpected. This requires a change in mindset and thinking. It requires businesses to perform detailed risk planning to identify vulnerabilities and adopt controls to ensure supply and operations.

Through Covid a key learning has been on the very issue the UK CO2 crisis illustrates – security of supply chains to ensure a business can continue to operate. There are many current examples where a lack of foresight has been exercised and businesses have been exposed. The automotive sector is a great source of learning along with many of our iconic parcel and package delivery services that have had to adjust their services due to unprecedented demand.

The learnings from the UK case study and Australia’s Covid experiences across a range of sectors make it abundantly clear that all businesses need to adapt quickly based on good data, intelligence, and evidence, leading to prompt decision making and the establishment of a rapid deployment capability.

It is an ever-changing world with new challenges and opportunities for businesses. Nuffield Group has the expertise and experience to support businesses in their risk assessment and emergency management planning.

Find out more:

contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

 

At Nuffield Group we don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel. We believe in helping create resilient businesses by sharing and collaborating non-competitive information. This approach has many advantages, not least of which is providing our customers with access to best practice frontiers based on learnings across industries and sectors.

Back in 2016 the Williams Formula One racing team worked with medical staff at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff to help apply their knowledge and procedures of pit lane operations to the resuscitation of newborn babies. The story is often invoked as an example of how you can learn from other industries and sectors to improve outcomes in your own.

In our industry we have adopted this principle by developing a practical solution; An online ‘Give ‘n’ Take Exchange (GNTX). GNTX is an innovative, collaborative and information sharing platform, supporting the development of best practice solutions across a range of organisations operating in various sectors and markets.

GNTX allows organisations, many with common goals, interests, and challenges, to share their approaches, policies, procedures, and practices to a range of issues.

The ability to access a diversity of experience, expertise and learnings creates an opportunity to understand and improve processes, tools, policies, and procedures among GNTX subscribers. Above all it enables the delivery of better outcomes in a timelier, better informed, less costly and efficient manner.

It’s like a virtuous circle driving continuous improvement which translates to better products, solutions and outcomes promoting sustainable business operations and improved consumer outcomes. It’s a new way of consulting with collaboration and validation of practices and is particularly centred on small and medium businesses to help them increase their capability and responsiveness.

Nuffield Group are proud of the ecosystem GNTX creates and the improvement it offers businesses. For further information on its functionality and application contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062

 

“Go hard, go early” is probably one of the most coined COVID catchphrases this year. You wouldn’t think ‘hard’ or ‘early’ could be interpreted differently but in the modern-day political spin cycle, it seems they can! So, for the purposes of applying this mantra to project management we’re going to need a pair of unequivocal definitions. Here’s mine:

“Go Hard”, in terms of project management means execute the project within a strict (hard) framework of ‘independent technical governance’. Such a framework provides the kind of rigid checks and balances required at critical milestones to ensure projects continue to run on time and in budget. It’s a framework that will protect an investors’ interests and an operator’s reputation.

“Go early” is just that. Nip any variances or issues in the bud before they become expensive to rectify. Small, regular corrections or adaptations before & during project executions can make a huge difference. A few million spent early can save tens of millions later.

Don’t take my word for it.

Data collected by the Independent Project Analysis group from thousands of major projects around the world shows:

  • A $100m capex project can expect a cost overrun between $9.6m and $48m
  • A $500m capex project can expect a cost overrun between $48m and $240m
  • A $1bn capex project can expect a cost overrun between $96m and $480m

So, if you apply the “go hard, go early” concept to a project the potential savings are immense.

But it’s not just about ‘policing’ a project. Early identification of potential weaknesses or potential improvements can provide a project team time to redesign procedures, models or processes to get a better outcomes. This positively impacts the success of a project and the projected revenue stream from it.

Of course, big projects have project teams, so it would be fair to assume they would be across this approach. The data says otherwise. Just look at the typical cost overruns above. So, that’s why you should “go hard” with an independent technical governance program. Because it’s not always what you know, it’s often what you don’t that trips you up!

Becht with Nuffield Group has the expertise and a proven ‘cradle to the grave’ governance program that identifies risk, provides solutions, and helps prevent expensive delays to capital projects.
Download Brochure Here or call us on 1300 308 257 for more information.

 

It seems that everywhere I look lately there are real examples of significant and unexpected change to the relative normality of life. This is no more evident than in the Covid 19 pandemic that has swept across the world over the past twenty months and impacted so many in ways that were unforeseen only two years ago. And yet, some things, like fires & floods are seasonal and predictible, which is why it’s time to spring into action.

During the most recent lockdown experienced here in Victoria, we have been privileged to watch the Paralympics. Each athletes individual sporting performance and achievements are very impressive but for so many, their backstory reminds me of just how quickly circumstances can change.

It is often said that the only constant in life is change and where this change is positive, it is embraced but unwelcome change is not embraced and rarely considered. We don’t like to think about the unthinkable and we rarely plan in advance in detail to overcome it when it occurs.

As we move into Spring, we will experience welcome changes in the weather. Warmer temperatures and blue skies will be more conducive to the outdoor lifestyle, exercising and preparing our properties for Summer. We welcome this change. But with Spring and then Summer comes erratic wind, extensive periods of heavy rain and scorching heat. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting above-average rainfall for Spring. These scenarios impact families and businesses by diverting attention away from day-to-day activities to unexpected activities such as cleaning up, repairing flood, storm or fire damage and implementing workarounds to maintain production and distribution.

Preparation for unexpected weather-driven events like fires & floods, is a risk to be managed utilising your risk management process.

Firstly, identify the risks. What are the possible weather-driven risks that could impact on you and how might that impact be realised? For example, are there tall trees that could fall during a strong wind event resulting in damage to buildings or an employee’s car in the carpark?

Secondly, analyse the risk. What is the likelihood of the identified risks occurring and what are the possible consequences? The risk can be assessed using your risk assessment matrix giving due consideration to such things as lost-time injuries, structural damage to buildings, power outages and denied access.

Thirdly, attend to the assessed risks in order to reduce the risk and avoid unexpected events. In the context of weather-driven events, this may include pruning trees, clearing drainage systems of silt and rubbish, securing loose objects, ensuring suitable access for emergency services and having the conversation with family members or employees at Health and Safety forums about looking after their safety and the safety of others in the event of an unexpected weather event.

The final step in the process is to review the risk to ensure that the actions taken have reduced the risk to a level that is acceptable, any maintenance required to provide ongoing management of the risk is included in maintenance plans and any residual risk which has the potential to interrupt business flow such as energy outages is addressed in your Business Continuity Plans.

It is not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN the next unexpected weather event will occur. Vigilance to the extreme weather warnings issued by the Bureau of Meteorology will compliment thoughtful planning and make it possible to endure these events with minimal impact.

Nuffield has spent decades developing expertise in the risk management space and provides a range of services to help organisatons become resilient.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the risk management services our Integrated Emergency Management & Recovery team provide, then Contact us via the form on this website; email us direct at nuffield@nuffieldgroup.com or call 1300 308 257 or +61 404 852 062