80:20 Management Consulting

80:20 Management Consulting
part of the 80:20 Group

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Home Health & Safety. Christmas Tree Fires

Someone just sent me this video which I thought I might as well post it here seeing as Christmas decorations will start going up in homes around Australia tomorrow.

It's amazing how quickly the Christmas tree on the left (unwatered) goes up in flames versus the one on the right (regularly watered).

If you're going to have a real Christmas tree, ensure that

  • You only have lights on when you are around (definitely turn them off before bed)
  • You have a fire extinguisher readily available in your house.
  • You check your lights for cable damage (Some can be ooooold and may be frayed); and
  • You regularly water your tree to make it last longer and less flammable

Demistifying ISO9001 part 1

the ISO9001 standard (whilst good for its purpose) is a boring document that can be quite difficult to comprehend for a first timer. There are certain sections of the standard that can seem really difficult to apply to some industries if you haven't been through the process before.

For example lets look at Product & Service Provision.

7.5.3 Identification and traceability
Where appropriate, the organization shall identify the product by suitable means throughout product realization.
The organization shall identify the product status with respect to monitoring and measurement requirements throughout product realization.
Where traceability is a requirement, the organization shall control the unique identification of the product and maintain records (see 4.2.4).

For a company in a service industry, this requirement can be as confusing as hell.

Sometimes it's a matter of tweaking the terminology a bit and asking the question in a different way.

If you were an accountant for example your product is your time, advice, reports etc. So in this case, what kind of identification methods do you use to differentiate clients? Do you have a numbering system for reports? How do you track your time spent with a client for invoicing.

The next paragraph is a bit trickier. How do you identify the status of the work you're carrying out throughout the process? Using the accountant example again, how would you identify work in progress versus work completed? Perhaps you save all work in progress in a separate folder and mark it as draft?

The final paragraph may apply to you, it may not. What you need to ask yourself is "Does the product/service I'm providing need to be tracked or identified in some way. If it does, you need to keep records of it as per your records control procedure. Using the accounting example again, the product might be a tax return. You might save them with an individual file name or reference number and this would be listed somewhere (ie. records control register)

I hope this helps make at least one requirement of the standard easier to apply.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Another one for the QA "WTF" files

I posted a blog the other day about companies claiming quality without proving it.

Today's post is a bit different but still along the same lines.

I purchased some new drill bits the other day and when I turned over the packet to open them up I read this on the back.

There are two issues here. First one being you're not "accredited to ISO" you are certified. More importantly, ISO 9002 hasn't existed for over 12 years!!! Seriously, who is handling your document control???

I quick check of their website shows they are certified to ISO9001, but there is definitely a gap in the system somewhere.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

HHS, Home Health & Safety, OH&S's slightly dodgy sibling

I spend a lot of time working with companies to help improve their Health and Safety performance, however sometimes I forget to apply those same principles when I get home, and naturally there are consequences.

As some of you may know I am a rev head and enjoy restoring old motorcycles and tinkering with cars.

Generally this kind of work is conducted with a beer in hand, my best pair of safety thongs (flip flops for the overseas readers) and a high visibility singlet (high visibility from the sunburn radiating off my shoulders).

Unfortunately this also greatly increases my potential for injury as evidenced below.

Starting with the most recent, removing the chain from the motorbike, chain rotated and munched my finger through the nail in the sprocket. Should have put the bike in gear first before working on the chain. Can't see it very well in the picture but the tooth of the sprocket went right through my nail.

This one was sheer stupidity, put a soldering iron on the ground for two seconds, stood up to grab something (whilst wearing thongs) turned around and placed my toe squarely on the iron. The iron got stuck to the skin. Smelled reaaaallly bad

Here I slipped whilst trying to loosen a bolt and punched a sharp seat pan on the way through. This did not put me in a very good mood.

And possibly the stupidest of the lot was when I was using a wire brush drill bit to remove paint from a fuel tank. I wasn't concentrating and was wearing a fairly loose t-shirt. I slipped and the drill bit caught in the shirt and worked it's way up my torso munching me here and there on the way. I was lucky I didn't lose a damn nipple (the tear at the top of the shirt is where it finally stopped).

although none of these were particularly life threatening (mostly just involved a lot of swearing, band aids and stern looks from Mrs Taylor), it just goes to show that taking a relaxed view of safety at work or at home can have serious consequences.

In all of these instances, I would have avoided injury if I stopped, thought about what I was doing and planned a bit more carefully before rushing in.

I bet I'm not the only one that feels invincible in my own home sometimes. In most cases, improving safety is a matter of changing attitudes towards safety.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Businesses Claiming Quality Assurance that aren't Certified

I noticed this yesterday when I was grocery shopping and as someone that works hard to ensure that Quality Assurance means something it annoyed me quite a lot (I should probably get out more)

My problem with this is that although "Quality Assured" is stamped on there with a big tick, Black and Gold is not QA certified, neither is their parent company IGA. It's the equivalent of putting an organic label on something that has not gone through any form of certification process to ensure that it is organic.

I've noticed it a lot lately when I visit company websites. There are plenty of sites out there with a "Quality Assurance" tab and lots of fluffy words about their quality processes which make it look like they are a certified business, but when you look them up on the register of certified companies, they are nowhere to be found.

So that's my rant for the day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quality Assurance in Web and App design

I was doing a bit of research this morning on different industries we could approach and I discovered that I could not find a single web design or app design business within Melbourne that had Quality Assurance certification. Many websites had reference to performing QA tests or inspections but I couldn't find any that actually said "we are QA certified".

With so many competitors in the marketplace I was suprised that I could not find a single business that was advertising it at all. There were many that discussed quality assurance processes they follow but none actually certified.

With any new and popular industry there are many new competitors entering the market on a daily basis, the best way to distinguish yourself from the pack is by establishing a point of difference. If it comes down to a decision between one design company and another with similar prices but only one is certified, most people will go with the certified business because they know that they conduct business a certain way and have had to prove that they meet strict ISO guidelines.

By choosing a company with ISO9001 certfication you know:

  • They have a strict design and development system in place for all stages of the design process
  • They conduct internal audits of their own system to identify issues.
  • Any suppliers/subcontractors have been reviewed for suitability to established criteria; and 
  • They will be reviewed at minimum on yearly basis by an external certification provider to ensure they remain compliant.
If large businesses are shopping around for a new design firm, these are the kinds of things that help them make their final decision.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows of any quality certified companies.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creating an Evacuation Plan

Legislation regarding safety differs all over Australia but sometimes it doesn't hurt to follow best practice to ensure that you are meeting all of your obligations and ensuring your employee's safety.

A good place to start is by creating an effective evacuation plan for your premises. This can be a frustrating process if you've never done it before and don't know where to begin.

The best place to start is by finding plans of the building in electronic format that you can edit to your liking. Using paintbrush or any other image editing software you can crop, resize and erase parts of the image that you don't require. What you are trying to do is create an outline of the building with most of the detail removed (ie. plants, plumbing etc).

Once you have created this outline you can start adding in important features such as extinguisher locations, first aid kits, exits, muster points etc. These images can be found below and can be cut and pasted to your plan (image taken from www.buildings.com)

Here's an example of one I did for a client a while ago using their building plan. I edited out a lot of the detail and pasted in the important features.

Once you are happy with the plan, add in any important contact details such as police, fire, ambulance, local doctor etc.

When selecting a muster point, ensure that it is safe for employees to wait there whilst emergency crews arrive at the scene. For example if you are on a busy road, it might not be safe to set the muster point at the other side of the road.

Always check legislation to ensure your plan complies with requirements as they may differ from state to state.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Setting Quality Objectives

With any Quality, Safety or Environmental Management System, you are required to set Objectives that you want to achieve with the system over a given period of time. The standard is pretty open in terms of how to go about it as below.

Top management shall ensure that quality objectives, including those needed to meet requirements for product, are established at relevant functions and levels within the organization. The quality objectives shall be measurable and consistent with the quality policy.

This ties in with my post yesterday about writing a Quality Policy as your objectives must be consistent with your policy.

If you are building a new system, I would suggest having a brain storming session with top management and key employees as to what goals you want to set for the business. You can set as many or as few as you like as long as the requirements of the standard are met.

The statement "including those needed to meet requirements for product" is basically saying what are your quality requirements for the product/service that you sell? As a consulting business, our objective could be to ensure that all of our customers pass certification within a certain time frame. This is a measurable objective and something that can be reviewed periodically. I would then go on to set other objectives for relevant functions and levels within the business. For example I can set sales objectives, Customer satisfaction objectives, report writing objectives, anything that is relevant to the business that is measurable.

Go easy on yourself though at first. Setting too many objectives or setting objectives that are unreasonable will make life hard and ultimately hurt you in an audit if you're not achieving them.

Similarly you can't just pick an objective that you know you are already achieving or could achieve without any real input. For example if I am currently getting all of my reports completed within 5 days of audit, I wouldn't set my objective to complete all reports within 5 days.

Another thing to remember when setting objectives is to not set anything that may have a negative effect. For example if you set a target of no-non conformance's, it will discourage people from raising or reporting issues. Similarly setting objectives for no warranty payouts may push staff to abandon good customer service practices in order to reach targets.

The point of objectives is continual improvement, set meaningful goals that you want to achieve and can achieve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing a Quality Policy

Writing any type of policy can be difficult the first time. I bet a lot of people have googled "Quality Policy" and used somebody else's as "inspiration" (also known as copy, change company name, paste).

Writing a policy doesn't have to be difficult and ISO9001 at least gives you some fairly firm guidelines as to what the policy requires (see below).

Top management shall ensure that the quality policy
a) is appropriate to the purpose of the organization,
b) includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality
management system,
c) provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives,
d) is communicated and understood within the organization, and
e) is reviewed for continuing suitability.

If we break it down into its individual parts it can actually be pretty easy. There are only 2 things that it has to have, a commitment to requirements and continual improvement and a framework for quality objectives. The rest is up to you to make it appropriate to your business and your goals.

Lets look at requirement A. What does your business do? what do you sell? Who is your target audience? What are your goals? A discussion with Top Management will uncover this information pretty quickly.

Requirement B is even more simple, you can literally copy that sentence word for word from the standard and include it in your policy. It is up to you if you want to elaborate on it further. 

Requirement C is actually the most difficult part of the policy and many people do it poorly. What you are doing here is establishing a "framework" not just telling the reader what your objectives are. You want to say how you will establish your objectives, what you are basing those decisions on an how you will review them. 

As an example, say we are writing a quality policy for an smash repair business. You could say that you have set objectives for customer satisfaction, paint faults in final inspection and turnaround time. You could then elaborate on why these are the chosen objectives, how they are benchmarked, how you have set KPI's and how often it will be reviewed (frequency and method).

Requirement D can be difficult if you have a large business with people spread far and wide, the important thing is demonstrating that you have communicated it and showing evidence that it is understood. Auditors will sometimes ask your staff questions about the policy to see if it has been effectively communicated.

Requirement E is fairly straightforward, you can set your own requirements for review of the policy as long as it shows that it has been reviewed for continuing suitability. 

As a final side note, your CEO/MD etc DOES NOT HAVE TO SIGN THE POLICY. There is nowhere in the standard that says the policy has to be signed by top management. Some auditors will say that you have to because they think that you should, not because you're required to. If you don't want it signed, don't sign it.

Hope this is helpful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Motorcycle Riders to Wear Compulsory High Vis?

As a bit of an appendix to my article earlier today regarding PPE as risk control, I was driving to the office and saw a motorbike rider wearing a high vis vest and it reminded me of a recent news story.

The news story related to a push for making high visibility clothing compulsory for all Victorian motorcycle riders. This is a perfect example of choosing the easy way out and giving the illusion of improving safety, without actually fixing the root cause of the issue.

As a rider myself, visibility is not the problem, the problem is the lack of education and awareness of motorcycle riders on the road by drivers. I have had numerous occasions where a driver will look me right in the eye and pull out anyway, or alternatively not check their mirrors before changing lanes.

If you look at this purely from a risk control point of view, what is the root cause? It's not that the rider can't be seen, it's that the driver isn't paying enough attention to actually look for a motorcycle. 

Using the hierarchy of risk controls, the last resort would be to add PPE to the riders to make them more visible. The smarter option would be to increase awareness for the driver. If I'm riding through an intersection and a driver isn't looking for me, then no amount of fluro is going to save me., but at least I'll look safer.

PPE as a Risk Control Measure

This is an  issue that I find coming up more and more lately. Generally it's because more and more people have increased safety management responsibilities in their roles without actually understanding safety.

The issue that I have found is people implementing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) as a risk control measure when it should really be the last resort.

To illustrate my point I'll give an example.

Company A has had an injury and they are looking at ways of preventing the injury from happening in the future.

When investigating the cause of the injury it was found that one of the steps in the task being conducted involved a risk of a cutting injury if performed incorrectly. In order to fix the issue the company introduced Kevlar gloves for all staff.

The problem I have with this is, why didn't they look at eliminating that step first? If that's not possible then there are more options in the hierarchy of controls that can be investigated before resorting to PPE.

When introducing new PPE there is the possibility of new risks that may make the problem worse. In the example above, the gloves may make items more difficult to grip and pose a manual handling risk.

I find the majority of the time, PPE is introduced as a cheap, lazy option  to fix a problem or because it is seen as an easy fix. It might be cheaper to buy everyone new gloves rather than having guarding re-engineered or making large changes to a process. At the end of the day though has it actually made the process safer, or does it just look safer?

I'm Back!

Hi All,

Sorry there has been such a huge delay in posts, I got caught up in training and day to day running of a business but I hope to start posting more frequently again.

Shoot me an email if there are any particular questions or topics you would like covered.